Talk:1455: Trolley Problem

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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I think Randall missed a trick here.. He should have had Black Hat offer to leave the lever (killing the 5) if Cueball was the 1 person on the other track, for $1 of course. That way Cueball is put in a situation of moral contradiction: The utilitarian in him says save the 5 (sacrifice self), self interest says save yourself (thereby killing 5). --Pudder (talk) 09:24, 3 December 2014 (UTC)

Randall had to make a choice between your scenario and Black Hat interrupting Cueball to emphasise BH's lack of care for the people on the track. As he chose the latter, BH didn't know there was a person on the second track, so couldn't have offered your scenario. -- Notso (talk) 11:05, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
Good point, I hadn't noticed that BH was never aware of the single person. That makes BH an even less moral person than I'd realised! As far as he knows, he could save 5 lives with no consequences, but that means standing up.... --Pudder (talk) 12:00, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
I think Randall made the morally correct choice there, don't you? -- Brettpeirce (talk) 12:38, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
Thats the thing with morals, something is only 'morally correct' if I subscribe to your moral viewpoint. While not such a popular view, some would argue that intervening to switch the track (thus causing the 1 worker to die) is morally wrong (because of your action you have changed the course of events, or some other reason). While most would agree that it is morally wrong to kill a human, as you start changing the circumstances, it become difficult to stick to hard and fast rules. What about abortion of a foetus, abortion where a life-limiting condition is detected, use of condoms, the death penalty, euthanasia? I would really recommend anyone to run through some of the Philosophy Experiments, it certainly made me examine my own morals, which previously I thought were well defined and logical. --Pudder (talk) 13:23, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
"some would argue that intervening to switch the track (thus causing the 1 worker to die) is morally wrong (because of your action you have changed the course of events"
If you base morality on what choices are made, rather than what actions are taken, then failing to intervene, choosing not to take action, would be morally wrong. Basing morals on actions suggests someone could stand by and always do nothing and remain moral. A position I don't think anyone could seriously defend. But you're absolutely right that "morals" are never well defined or logical. An example can always be found to put someone's strong moral stance in an immoral position. Equinox 17:41, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
The majority of people will make a distinction between killing someone and letting someone die, even if that distinction isn't something they are conscious of. Of course the end result is the same, whether it is classed as killing or letting die. For those whose morals are guided by christianity for example, the ten commandments specifically states 'Thou shalt not kill', and your action of pulling the lever could be seen as killing the 1 person, whereas by not acting, or choosing not to act, you are 'merely' letting 5 people die. --Pudder (talk) 21:03, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
Folks who make some kind of moral distinction between choosing to kill someone and choosing to let someone die are just trying to avoid responsibility for their actions. It's a self-righteous and self-serving. Masking that by claiming some religeous basis (God said "Thou shall not kill" so I'm, ahem, just following orders.) doesn't change that.
I'm not in any way suggesting it wouldn't be a wrenching decision to have to make. But someone claiming they can choose not to decide who lives and who dies (while in fact they are thereby actually making that decision) and therefore not have any responsibility for what happens as a consequence is far from being honest or acting morally. Equinox 17:39, 4 December 2014 (UTC)

Black Hat first sells his hypothetical decision for $1, which can be seen as a cheap bargain for one's life; but how probable is this concrete situation with these exact persons to come true, except we are speaking of Black Hat here. $5 still is for a hypothetical, but more probable scenario given Black Hat's attitude; agreeing to pay would make Cueball open for further blackmailing in general and so be imprudent, but even for that counter-argument Black Hat has an even more expensive solution. Black Hat goes more and more meta and counters arguments bringing the concrete decision from hypothesis to reality and earning money on the way. Sebastian -- 10:13, 3 December 2014 (UTC) Pudder

Or one can treat this like Captain Kirk did with the infamous "Kobayashi Maru" problem and cheat, and say that they would throw the lever after the lead wheels have cleared the switch.  This would divert the trailing wheels onto the other track which would cause the trolley to derail and thus save all six. 13:16, 3 December 2014 (UTC)

And kill everyone on board! Its easy to cheat, and construct ways to avoid the hypothetical situation, or reasons why it could never happen in the first place. To me its more interesting to examine and challenge the thought process involved in making a decision where the answer isn't necessarily 'correct'. --Pudder (talk) 13:27, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
Nowhere does it say there are people on the trolley.  You are assuming that there are.  I am assuming the opposite — that it is a runaway and no one is aboard; otherwise someone would be able to apply the brakes. 15:06, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
My response was an off the cuff joke, it doesn't matter whether there are people on board, whether they would survive, whether they could pull the brakes on, if the brakes have failed, whether you could fire an orange portal in front of the 5 people and a blue one after them, etc etc etc. The importants part is the second half of my statement, that its easy to cheat, and construct ways to avoid the hypothetical situation, or reasons why it could never happen in the first place. Once you accept the hypothetical limits of the situation, that is where the interesting philosophical questions lie. --Pudder (talk) 15:30, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
The correct answer is to have a moral trolley company that trains its workers to OSHA rules; thus the correct answer would be to throw the lever to head towards the worker, confident that the worker has been trained to listen to the "singing of the rails" indicating an approaching vehicle and will jump out of the way. Seebert (talk) 13:49, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
In the original problem, all 6 potential victims are bound and helpless and none of them are "workers". Smperron (talk) 14:07, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
If the trolley is a runaway trolley, then it's a good chance that all on board (if anyone) would die anyway, so may as well save all six people on the track. -- 14:46, 3 December 2014 (UTC)

The explanation is missing that Black Hat doesn't offer to press the lever for $1. He offers to promise to press the lever for $1. Hsdgsgh (talk) 13:57, 3 December 2014 (UTC)

It depends - are any/all of those five people Hitler? 16:54, 3 December 2014 (UTC)

The tiered levels appear similar to kickstarter campaigns.

The trolley problem continues: The trolley is under control, but heading towards a bend. If the driver brakes now, then the five people hidden round the corner will survive. You could certainly make the driver brake by pushing someone onto the track. If you would divert the trolley in the original scenario, would you also push a random stranger into the path of an oncoming train, and if not, why not. Does the more visceral act of pushing someone onto a track make this morally different? 20:57, 3 December 2014 (UTC)

The statistics show that far fewer people will push the person onto the track than would change the lever. As you say, its far more visceral and personal to push someone than to flick a switch. -- Pudder (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)