Youare a trolley driver and the brakes suddenly fail. As you are headingdown the track, you see five workers who will be killed by theunstoppable trolley. At the last moment you see that it is possibleto redirect the runaway trolley, but in doing so, you will kill aninnocent person. What do you do if you are a:
Asa utilitarian, I would take the option that would lead to theproduction of the greater good. In this case, the trolley having itsbrakes failed, and this is likely to kill five workers in case I donot take the chance of redirecting it. It is also imperative to notethat redirecting the trolley will lead to the death of one innocentperson. It would be of greater good to save the life of the fiveworkers by redirecting the trolley and compromising the life of oneinnocent person (Rainbow, 2016).
Deontologistsconsider its ethical system as the duty of the individual, in thiscase, therefore, it is my responsibility to consider whichalternative saves my duty and the alternative that is morally right.In this case, redirecting the trolley and killing the one innocentperson would not be moral, this is because I would have intentionallychosen to kill that person and hence the best and the most morallyright thing is to continue on course and hope that the trolley won’tpossibly kill all the five workers (Rainbow, 2016).
Asa virtue ethicist, the main objective is to do that which developscharacter and good habits. In this particular case, the alternativethat develops the best future character is the one that is consideredto be right. Driving the trolley with failed brakes and risking thelives of five workers without any change in the course cannot be thebest alternative as this will not develop a good character forfuture. It is, therefore, best for me to redirect the trolley andrisk the life of one innocent person instead (Rainbow, 2016).
Youare a physician and have five needy patients all of whom are indanger of dying unless you get suitable organs within the day. Oneneeds a heart transplant, one needs a kidney, two need a lung each,and another needs a liver. A tramp who has no family walks into thehospital for a routine checkup. By killing him and using his organsfor the first five patients, you could save five people, restoringthem to health. If you don`t kill the tramp, you are indirectlyresponsible for the death of the five other patients. What do you doif you are a:
Asa utilitarian, it is the best alternative to do that which is ofgreater good and that which is likely to save the lives of manypeople. As a physician, and with five patients in need oftransplants, I am highly influenced to help them in any way possible.The best alternative is to save the lives of the five patients bytaking the life of the tramp and using his organs to save the livesof the patients. This alternative leads to the death of oneindividual and saving of five patients (Rainbow, 2016).
Asa deontologist, the best alternative is that which saves my duty andthe alternative that is completely morally right. In this particularcase, as a physician with five patients whose lives are at stake andthe tramp who has been coming for checkups, choosing to save thelives of the patients doesn’t serve my duty which is to save livesand not killing. It is not morally right to take a life of personeven with the intention of saving the life of another. Therefore, thebest alternative is to let the patients fight for their lives, andthe tramp also continues living (Rainbow, 2016).
Inthis particular case, as virtue ethicist would take the alternativethat will help in developing future character and virtue withoutconsidering the actions that have been taken. It is, therefore,important to note that saving the lives of the many patients andscarifying the live of the tramp would lead not lead to futureethical virtues as this will be taking the live of the tramp. Thebest alternative, in this case, is to leave the patients to fight fortheir individual lives and the tramp to continue living (Rainbow,2016).
Rainbow, C. (2016, June 09). Descriptions of Ethical Theories and Principles. Retrieved from bio.davidson.edu:http://www.bio.davidson.edu/people/kabernd/indep/carainbow/theories.htm