The Trolley Problem
Q&A Radio: Sunday, 1 September 2013, Question 3
I answered a question on the trolley problem on Philosophy in Action Radio on 1 September 2013. You can listen to or download the podcast segment below – or check out the whole episode.
Does the "trolley problem" have any validity or use? I often come across people who think ethical philosophy consists of asking others what they would do in hypothetical situations in which they are allowed only two options, both terrible. One I keep coming across is that of the Trolley Problem proposed by Philippa Foot and modified by Judith Thomson, in which one must choose whether to kill one person or let five others die. Is it valid for moral philosophers to pose the Trolley Problem to people and to insist that people's answers show that one can only either be a deontologist or a utilitarian?
My Answer, In Brief: The trolley problem is neither a valid starting point to ethics, nor signals a divide between deontology and consequentialism. Instead, a person's response often suggests implicit views about responsibility for acts of omission versus commission.
- Duration: 18:41
- Download: MP3 Segment (8.6 MB)
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About Philosophy in Action Radio
I'm Dr. Diana Hsieh. I'm a philosopher specializing the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I received my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. My dissertation defended moral responsibility and moral judgment against the doubts raised by Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck."
My radio show, Philosophy in Action Radio, broadcasts live over the internet on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. On Sunday mornings, I answer four meaty questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life in a live hour-long show. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers co-hosts the show. On Wednesday evenings, I interview an expert guest about a topic of practical importance.
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