Happy Trolley Day!

Happy #trolleyday!

Today’s the birthday of Philippa Foot, the mother of one of the best known ethical dilemmas of our time: the ‘trolley problem’.

The original trolley problem is as follows:

A brakeless trolley nears.
If you don’t act, 5 people will die. These five people are already on the regular track (i.e. consider it as their destiny).


If you change its track by pulling the lever, only 1 will die. This person is a poor worker who is working on the other track.

What will you do? Will you let 5 people die or will you save 5 and sacrifice 1? What if that 1 person happens to be a small kid or an infant baby?

The core dilemma is explained by a quote by Marcus Aurelius thousands of years ago.

“You can also commit injustice by doing nothing.” — Marcus Aurelius

A variation of the trolley problem goes like this:

5 people in hospital will die if they don’t receive a different vital organ. 1 healthy person enters hospital with all 5 vital organs functioning.

Is it better to save the 5 by killing the 1?

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