Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Trolley Problem Solved, with DOOM

A colleague just shared with me the best response to the Trolley Problem ever... from a student, of course:

"Push the fat man in the trolley's path, because he [the fat man] doesn't even care about his life."


We're doomed.

24 comments:

The Brooks Blog said...

Where's the exit?!

Anonymous said...

Where's the exit?!

I believe that there's a fat man stuck in it, and the only way to get him out of it is with dynamite.

Mostly Anonymous said...

The best response I've seen to the fat man + trolley scenario went something like, "There is no way a fat man could stop a trolley."

Krinos said...

Alternate DOOM(ed) solution: if there are people stupid enough to be on the tracks, they deserve to die. Note: Best if delivered while chewing gum.

Anonymous said...

Everybody loves a chubby dude.

John S. Wilkins said...

But it's Santa Claus!

Anonymous said...

I had a student say that they'd kill themselves so they wouldn't have to decide what to do in trolley cases.

Robert said...

The obvious answer is to fire a missile at the trolley from a predator drone. Come on, peoples, wake up.

Meat Sounds said...

In the last batch of papers I marked there was one student who argued that it's fine to conscript the organs of street racers for donation, because obviously they don't care about what happens to their bodies, so we can do with their remains what we like.

Anonymous said...

A student of mine one said he'd wait for the trolley to pass under the bridge, THEN push the fat man off.

Anonymous said...

I'm 6', 4" and weigh 320 pounds. I benchpress 450 pounds and legpress 900 pounds. I DARE anyone to throw me in front of a trolley!

Robert said...

In the unlikely event that the predator drone solution proves unworkdable, the answer is for Anonymous to benchpress or legpress the trolley.

Anonymous said...

Then it's agreed. We should kill people who cannot leg press 900 lbs. Glad to see scepticism about particular case intuitions was groundless.

Platowe said...

Please, please put my Dean in front of the trolley. Justice demands it, even if he does not.

Glaucon said...

This has nothing to do with the Trolley Problem, though it definitely seems a harbinger of doom.

Paul said...

We're doomed
Said the philosopher,
Yawn.

Florian Cova said...

Heard today, while interviewing a participant in a psychology experiment : "Well, you should push the fat guy because you don't know if he's not going to die from an heart attack soon and because he costs too much to society (from a medical point of view)"

Anonymous said...

Ban the trolley. Then, ban the fat man. Hell, ban everything...

Alastair Norcross said...

Several students in my summer class said of the original trolley case that the right thing to do was to let the trolley kill five. They explained that the world is overpopulated, and so the more who die the better. In my class this semester, though, 67% (in a class of 150) said to push the fat man onto the track. In Colorado, the air is clearer, and the students are brighter (though perhaps not the summer school students).

Krinos said...

New alternate DOOM(ed) solution: Oh, you definitely need to push the frat guy!

Anonymous said...

"I believe that there's a fat man stuck in it, and the only way to get him out of it is with dynamite."

Silly. It is only a possible fat man in the doorway. Where is your love of desert landscapes?

AVP715 said...

I think the whole thought experiment is flawed because we all make the decision with the knowledge in the back of our minds that if this were to actually happen, the fat man would have no chance of stopping the trolley.

If we change the situation to one in which "pushing the fat man" would actually guarantee saving five lives if the situation were to come up in real life, there would be less "moral confusion."

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