Select ONE of the provided ethical cases, and write your ess…

The ethical case I have chosen to discuss is the Trolley Problem. The Trolley Problem is a thought experiment in ethics that presents a moral dilemma involving the choice between actively causing harm to save the lives of others or refraining from action and allowing harm to occur. This thought experiment was first introduced by philosopher Philippa Foot in 1967 and has since been widely discussed and debated within the field of moral philosophy.

The scenario of the Trolley Problem is as follows: a runaway trolley is hurtling down a track with five people tied to it and will inevitably kill them if nothing is done. However, you have the ability to divert the trolley onto another track, which has only one person tied to it. This diversion would result in the death of the one person but save the lives of the other five. The ethical dilemma arises from the question of whether it is morally justifiable to actively cause harm to one person in order to save the lives of five.

There are different perspectives and ethical theories that can be applied to analyze the Trolley Problem and its associated moral dilemma. One common framework is consequentialism, which holds that the morality of an action is determined by its consequences. From a consequentialist perspective, diverting the trolley onto the other track would be considered morally justified, as it maximizes overall happiness or utility by saving the lives of the greater number of people. In this view, the ends justify the means, and the ethical imperative is to minimize harm and maximize the overall well-being of those affected.

Another ethical theory that can be applied to the Trolley Problem is deontology, which focuses on the inherent rightness or wrongness of actions rather than their consequences. From a deontological standpoint, the act of actively causing harm to one person, even if it results in the greater good of saving five others, would be considered morally wrong. Deontologists argue that certain actions, such as intentionally killing an innocent person, are inherently immoral and should never be undertaken, regardless of the consequences.

One variation of the Trolley Problem, known as the Footbridge Dilemma, adds an additional layer of complexity. In this scenario, instead of diverting the trolley onto a different track, you are standing on a footbridge overlooking the track. There is a large person next to you, and pushing this person onto the track would stop the trolley and save the lives of the five people tied to it. Here, the ethical dilemma involves the use of personal force to cause harm to an innocent person in order to save the lives of others.

When analyzing the Footbridge Dilemma, consequentialists may argue that pushing the person off the footbridge is morally justifiable, as it leads to the greatest overall happiness by saving five lives. However, deontologists would maintain that intentionally causing harm to an innocent person is inherently wrong, regardless of the greater good that may result.

In addition to consequentialism and deontology, other ethical frameworks, such as virtue ethics and rights-based ethics, can also be applied to the Trolley Problem. Virtue ethicists would consider the character and intentions of the person deciding whether to divert the trolley or push the person off the bridge. They might focus on cultivating moral virtues, such as courage, compassion, and justice, in order to guide ethical decision-making. Rights-based ethicists, on the other hand, may prioritize the individual rights of each person involved, arguing that intentionally causing harm violates the inherent rights to life and bodily integrity of the one person involved.

In conclusion, the Trolley Problem presents an intriguing ethical dilemma that forces individuals to grapple with conflicting moral obligations. The decision to actively cause harm to one person in order to save the lives of others raises profound questions about the underlying principles and values that guide ethical decision-making. Different ethical theories offer distinct perspectives on the moral justifiability of such actions, with consequentialism emphasizing the importance of overall consequences and deontology focusing on the inherent rightness or wrongness of actions. Ultimately, the Trolley Problem challenges individuals to critically examine their own ethical beliefs and consider the complexities of morality in real-life scenarios.