Mar. 12-23 (Singer, Nussbaum, Thomson)

Monday, March 12


Peter Singer, on Wikimedia Commons, public domain
Peter Singer, on Wikimedia Commons, public domain

1. Peter Singer, “Famine, Affluence and Morality” (1972), available here:—-.htm

2. Singer, “The Singer Solution to World Poverty” (New York Times Magazine, 1999):



Wed. March 14

Finish Singer, start Nussbaum.

Martha Nussbaum, by Robin Holland, on Wikimedia Commons, licensed CC BY-SA 3.0


Nussbaum, Martha. “Capabilities and Human Rights.” Fordham Law Review 66.2 (1997): 273-300



Discussion meetings March 14 and 16

There will be student-led discussions in discussion meetings this week.

Monday, March 19

Peer feedback on draft of essay 2 this week. See the instructions for essay 2 for how to complete it (will be posted under “assignments” when ready).

Finish Nussbaum, start trolley problem.



Watch video lectures on this material before class.

1. Reading:

  • Judith Jarvis Thomson, “The Trolley Problem,” The Yale Law Journal 94:6 (May 1985). You only need to read up through section VIII, stopping on p. 1412 (the rest is optional).

2. Videos

Overview of the trolley problem, from BBC:

After watching the video above, please participate in these two polls (optional; this doesn’t keep track of who has done so or not, but it could be interesting to see the results!)

Do you think it's permissible for the bystander to flip the switch and move the trolley onto the track with one person instead of five?

  • Yes (80%, 4 Votes)
  • No (20%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 5

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Do you think it's morally permissible for the bystander to push the large person onto the tracks, thereby killing one instead of five?

  • Yes (60%, 3 Votes)
  • No (40%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 5

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Below there are two video lectures on the trolley problem and on Thomson’s article, that I have made. You will need to watch them before class on Wed., March 14.


Wednesday March 21

Please watch this last video lecture on the trolley problem, and be sure to read Thomson’s article before class if you haven’t already!


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