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Ethics Theories & The Trolley Problems

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For this first short paper, read the separate attachment, The Trolley Problems.

1. Please summarize the two Trolley Problems.

2. Apply Kantian ethics to the Trolley Problems. What answers would a Kantian give to the Trolley Problems and why?

3. Apply Utilitarian ethics to the Trolley Problems. What answers would a Utilitarian give to the Trolley Problems and why?

4. Evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of Utilitarian and Kantian ethics based on your answers to #2 and #3. If you had to pick one of these two theories to live under, which would it be and why?

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OTA 105878/Xenia Jones

Q&A Ethics: Kantian & Utilitarianism

Trolley Problems

Advice - when writing summaries, you have to stick to the main points to explain a particular narrative or problem. Since there are 2 trolley problems you are expected to give 2 summaries. They ought to appear as below, for example:

The trolley problems, created by Profs. Foot & Thomson are ethical situations that require the respondent to take a position. Problem 1 by Prof. Foot talks about a runaway trolley that will surely kill 5 people on the track. The respondent is put in a position where he has immediate access to a switch that can divert this runaway trolley but in so doing kill one person on that side track. Problem 2. by Prof. Thomson puts the respondent on a bridge over the tracks next to a very large person who, if the respondent pushes on the track will stop the runaway trolley, thereby saving the life of 5 people on the track ahead but taking the life of the large person used to stop the trolley. Both question asks - will the respondent chose to kill the 1 person-on the side-track/large-man-on-the-bridge to save the lives of 5 more? Both questions require an answer of yes or no only and requires the respondent to reflect according to his/her ethical and moral views.

Kantian View

Advice - use Kant's idea of 'moral worth or moral imperative', for example:

For Kant, if the purpose of life is happiness, it is impossible to achieve. Being happy and being good are 2 different things and since happiness cannot be a universal bases for doing good, what we can use to avoid ...

Solution Summary

The solution provides advise and insight in tackling the 'trolley problems'. It looks to the task listed in the original problem (see above), provides advise in how to solve them using Kantian and utilitarian ethics. References are listed for further exploration of the topic. A word version of the solution is attached for easy download and printing.

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