Christmas Time Thoughts of Good Will to Men. What Would You Do to Save a Life?

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    Dec 24, 2013 6:25 PM GMT
    Christmas time thoughts of good will to men. Most guys on here would do something to save someone from being killed, if they could. But what would you do if to save lives you have to make a choice by which another's life will be lost?

    You're an inspector on an out of control streetcar, where the driver has slumped over, dead of a heart attack, after having tried to apply the brakes which are not working. Just ahead is a group of five children playing on the tracks. There is no way to stop or slow the car. Just ahead is a switch which could divert the car to sidetrack. If you act quickly, you can open the switch, and divert the car to the sidetrack. But a man is standing on the sidetrack, just ahead. If you switch the car to the sidetrack, he will be killed. If you do nothing, the five children will be killed. What would you do? Why?

    Assume the same out of control streetcar, this time with do motorman, but instead of being in the car, you are standing next to a large stranger on a footbridge over the tracks. There is no railing. If the car is not stopped or slowed, the children will be killed. If you push the large man off the bridge onto the tracks, his body is a large enough mass to bring the streetcar to halt when it hit him.

    Now what do you do? Kill the large stranger to save the five children? Do nothing? Close your eyes?

    You cannot change the facts in this problem.

    Problem originally proposed by philosopher Phillipa Foot.
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    Dec 24, 2013 6:36 PM GMT
    This seems like an updated version of "Sophie's Choice".
    Hard.
    But I imagine it's better to save the children. First, there are 5 of them. Second, they have more life to look forward to than the man.
    But it would be agonizing either way.
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    Dec 24, 2013 8:25 PM GMT
    This is a strange dilemma to link to Christmas.
    Nevertheless, I wouldn't kill one innocent man to save any amount of people.
    In the second example, I'd be free to jump myself if I thought a sacrifice was in order.
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    Dec 24, 2013 8:28 PM GMT


    "Assume the same out of control streetcar, this time with do motorman, but instead of being in the car, you are standing next to a large stranger on a footbridge over the tracks. There is no railing. If the car is not stopped or slowed, the children will be killed. If you push the large man off the bridge onto the tracks, his body is a large enough mass to bring the streetcar to halt when it hit him."

    Simple. Everyone gets to live if I jump on the tracks and the streetcar kills me instead, slowing it down.

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    Dec 24, 2013 8:31 PM GMT
    Hmm.
    Then again, an adult should know better than to stand on the tracks.
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    Dec 24, 2013 8:34 PM GMT
    This reminds of a true story I recently read about a teen whose car got stuck on the tracks. He got out of the car in just enough time to avoid being killed by the train which, of course, demolished the car.
    When his parents got there, he thought he was going to catch hell. He was confused by his parents rejoicing.
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    Dec 24, 2013 8:38 PM GMT
    Jaggal said
    JohnSpotter saidThis is a strange dilemma to link to Christmas.
    Nevertheless, I wouldn't kill one innocent man to save any amount of people.
    In the second example, I'd be free to jump myself if I thoughth a sacrifice was in order.


    You just became 1000x hotter ;)


    lol, I should have read the whole topic before posting.

    Merry Christmas, John!
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    Dec 25, 2013 1:08 PM GMT
    You live with the guilt of having taken no action, instead, as an observer, simply let life play out because in both those situations as described, the only alternative to witness is divine intervention with you playing God, making value judgments on the lives of others who are not you. And also you are not God.

    Otherwise, Meninlove's answer would be correct but that changes the "facts in this problem" because one of the facts is to maintain the conditions as described per the rules of this game.

    Merry Xmas to all and all that.

    God, What a depressing start of the day! What else ya got?