A Terrible Philosophy

You are standing next to a lever that controls a runaway trolley. The trolley is headed straight for five people who are tied to the track. You can pull the lever to divert the trolley onto a different track, but there is one person tied to that track. Do you pull the lever?

You decide to pull the lever. Unfortunately, due to lack of infrastructure upkeep, the lever malfunctions and snaps off and you witness the brutal massacre of five innocent workers. It’s a good thing they were unionized and their widows are now receiving proper indemnity benefits.

A runaway trolley is headed towards five people who are tied to the track. There is no lever that you can pull to divert the trolley, but there is a large person standing next to you. The only way to stop the trolley and save the five people is to push the large person off the bridge and onto the track.

You try to push the person off the track. But you, a scrawny philosophy student who subsists on a diet of ramen and Cheetos, lack the power to push the large person off. As retaliation, the large person shoves you instead, and your last thought before you are crushed is about Camus.

You are a surgeon performing an operation on a patient. Suddenly, five other patients rush into the operating room. They have all been involved in a car accident and are in critical condition. You can only operate on one patient, and you know that the other five patients will die if you don’t operate on them.

After asking the RN to find insurance cards in their wallets and realizing that the five new patients are most likely on high deductible plans, you decide to simply operate on the original patient. After all, he has that new BCBS plan that will finally help you make a dent in that ridiculous $100,000 student loan. So much for the Hippocratic oath.

You are a self-driving car engineer. You are working on a new algorithm that will prevent self-driving cars from hitting people. However, you know that the algorithm is not perfect, and there is a small chance that it will cause the car to swerve into oncoming traffic and kill the people in the car. Do you release the algorithm?

Your boss is Elon Musk. Of course you do/did and was/will be the cause of a major pile up on I-75 one of these days.

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