Trolley Problem Discussion Summary

My discussion questions are a bit different in that it compares the situations of the Trolley Problem to each other. In my discussion, I talked about three situations that Thomson describes from Foot’s Trolley Problem: the Trolley Driver situation (Thomson 1985 P. 1395), the Surgeon situation (Thomson 1985 P. 1396) , and the Fat Man situation (Thomson 1985 P. 1409). I decided to build my questions around these situations, rather than the text itself, because I felt that it would be more effective if I did so.

My questions were addressed to the class:

What would you do in each situation?

One person said, “As long as you are aware of the situation and the weight of your decision, you can [sacrifice the one to save the five]”

For the Trolley Driver situation, most people would pull the switch, saving the five but killing the one in the process.

For the Surgeon situation, most people would choose to do nothing and let the one healthy person live, but let the five patients die.

For the Fat Man situation, most people would do nothing and let the five people die, but sparing the fat man.

In each of these situations, when and why is it morally permissible or not morally permissible to sacrifice the one to save the five?

The class answered that the Fat Man Situation and the Surgeon situation are different from the Trolley Driver situation because there is a difference in agency and there is a presence of bystanders that you are potentially forcing into the situation, as opposed to the Trolley Driver situation.

The situation changes for each of these situations, and that is why the morals are different.