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We have already begun discussing ethical dilemmas with Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” essay. Now we are going to include other ethical dilemmas. This week discuss the following ethical dilemmas:
“The Runaway Trolley Car” and “The Fat Man and the Trolley Car”
Combine (synthesize/blend) these ethical dilemmas into one discussion. Because you will want your discussion to go beyond a personal reaction, include what you identify as appropriate supporting material from one or more of the following to receive full credit:
“A Framework for Thinking Ethically”
“Heinz’s Dilemma: Kohlberg’s Six Stages of Moral Development”
You will find these supporting articles useful to help you frame your discussion in a more substantive and complex way. I will begin discussing these supporting articles in Tuesday’s Teams meeting to further define ethics and ethical dilemmas.
Although these ethical dilemmas are thought experiments and seem simple, they really are not. Think about how these reflect human nature–how we make decisions and why.
The following are some questions we can ponder about this dilemma. Consider them prompts to get you started; you may have some questions or solutions of your own that will be welcome to the discussion.
The Ethical Dilemma for “The Runaway Trolley Car”: should a person save the people on the trolley, flipping a switch, even if it means killing one person to save others? Why or why not? Why should a person be obligated to strangers? Or, why not?
The Ethical Dilemma for “The Fat Man and the Trolley Car”: should a person save the people on the trolley if it entails jumping onto the track as an act of self-sacrifice? However, to complicate matters, there is a fat man standing nearby, and to save the trolley, all it takes is a small push. Should one do that–to sacrifice one person to save others? To make this dilemma more complex, assume that part of the rationale is that a “fat” person is expendable (not handsome or beautiful, perhaps not in the best of health). If that person were a slim beautiful woman or a slim, handsome man, would that change the decision? What about religion or ethnicity? Would the decision change if the person were of a different religion or ethnicity?
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