View Poll Results: What would you do?

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  • Switch the track

    17 56.67%
  • Let the train continue

    13 43.33%
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Thread: The Murder Dilemma (an ethics question)

  1. #21
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    Re: The Murder Dilemma (an ethics question)

    Quote Originally Posted by DifferentDrummr View Post
    It might qualify as voluntary manslaughter (and even then I'm not so sure), but there's no way it could be involuntary if the decision to flip the switch is made of your own free will.
    Actually it does come under involuntary manslaughter. The reason being is that the person comes into a situation not of his doing and reacting as a fairly reasonable man would. There really is no choice in the situation looking at it from a logical perspective. Further I doubt highly any prosecutor would even bring up charges. If they did I could just about guarantee that a jury would NEVER convict someone of any "crime" relating to this incident in these circumstances. The law is based on what presumably a reasonable man would do and that is one of the test though which law must pass muster. Or least it used to.
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    Re: The Murder Dilemma (an ethics question)

    Quote Originally Posted by PirateMk1 View Post
    Actually it does come under involuntary manslaughter. The reason being is that the person comes into a situation not of his doing and reacting as a fairly reasonable man would. There really is no choice in the situation looking at it from a logical perspective. Further I doubt highly any prosecutor would even bring up charges. If they did I could just about guarantee that a jury would NEVER convict someone of any "crime" relating to this incident in these circumstances. The law is based on what presumably a reasonable man would do and that is one of the test though which law must pass muster. Or least it used to.
    That was part of the reason the scenario was framed this way. To factor out any legal issues and leave the decision purely to ethics.
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  3. #23
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    Re: The Murder Dilemma (an ethics question)

    I've been trying to imagine myself in that situation and I honestly have no clue what I would do. I probably would instinctively react at the last possible second, but I really don't know which way.
    "Yes, but are you a Protestant atheist or a Catholic atheist?".- Northern Irish joke

  4. #24
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    Re: The Murder Dilemma (an ethics question)

    Quote Originally Posted by DifferentDrummr View Post
    Technically, if you flip that switch, you're murdering the person on the tracks, no matter how you look at it.
    Lesser of two evils doctrine in actuality routinely employed in rain/flooding situations. It is interesting though.

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    Re: The Murder Dilemma (an ethics question)

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcana XV View Post
    I've been trying to imagine myself in that situation and I honestly have no clue what I would do. I probably would instinctively react at the last possible second, but I really don't know which way.
    The decision is a no brainier.

  6. #26
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    Re: The Murder Dilemma (an ethics question)

    Quote Originally Posted by newpublius View Post
    The decision is a no brainier.
    Not for me, it's not. It would all depend on how clearly I can see the person tied up on the tracks. If I can see their eyes, looking at me, especially if it's a very young person, there's no way I'm pulling that switch. At that point the people on the train are abstract entities. The person on the tracks, however, is very real.
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  7. #27
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    Re: The Murder Dilemma (an ethics question)

    I wish freshman classes would shoot everyone that refused to switch the tracks and get on with the semester.

  8. #28
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    Re: The Murder Dilemma (an ethics question)

    I don't know what I would do.

    Perhaps if the train was traveling very slowly, I'd let it derail....but that's still a ****-ton of momentum.

    Thinking about it at this moment, I think I would probably switch the track and hate myself for the rest of my life for killing that guy, no matter how reasonable it was.

    But I have no idea how I would react in that situation.
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  9. #29
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    Re: The Murder Dilemma (an ethics question)

    Let the train continue. I'd feel less guilty about it, and would be less likely to be held legally liable.
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  10. #30
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    Re: The Murder Dilemma (an ethics question)

    Quote Originally Posted by DifferentDrummr View Post
    Consider the following scenario:

    You are in a tower at a rail yard where you can control one switch. A train full of passengers is approaching the fork in the tracks with that switch. You cannot leave the tower or call anyone until the train passes.

    On one track, a person is tied to the rails. The other track is damaged. If you do nothing, the train will continue onto the damaged track and derail. Many of the passengers and crew will be killed as a result.

    If you switch the train onto the other track, it will pass safely onto its destination, but it will kill the person tied to the tracks.

    It's your decision . . .

    [Additional details: (1) Once the train passes the fork in the tracks, it can’t be stopped until it hits the person who’s tied up or derails. (2) Switching the tracks isn't actually your job; you just happen to be in the tower because of a set of random circumstances. (3) The person on the tracks was already tied to them when you got there.]
    Not enough information. Who is on the tracks? Who is on the train? Where is the train coming from? Where is it going to?
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