Moral Monday: Trolley Problem and the Fat Man

Trolley photo by

Last week we looked at the classic philosophic conundrum of the trolley. Nearly 70% of respondents said that they would flip a switch in order to divert a trolley that would then kill one person, but miss 5 others at which it was previously heading. This response percentage tends to line up with surveys that have been given to the general population before: most people would choose to flip the switch, but some would not.

This week, we alter the situation slightly.

As before, a trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by dropping a heavy weight in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you – your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five. Should you proceed?

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