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Tma 3

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Tma 3 asks us to consider the ends justify the means in relation to consequentialism..

I am tempted to use the trolley thought experiment to answer the tma question.

Or would that be to simplistic?

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Remember: it is about the argument.  What is the best counter-argument to the ends-justify-the-means?  And what is the counter to that?  I think that was the purpose of the various forms of the trolley problem.

IIRC (and I probably don't) this trolley thought experiment highlights problems with the different sorts of utilitarianism.  And I think this is where Kant might come in too.  There's also that business of the innocent man hanged for the Fire of London to make the mob happy.

Does inaction have the same moral implication as action?  You can change the trolley problem to explore that avenue.  That is, should you fatally push someone in front of the trolley to stop it?  Is killing the same thing as letting someone die?  And there is another case which I don't think came up in the text book: throw yourself under the trolley to stop it.  Are you morally obliged to self-sacrifice to save the five?  How is that different from pushing someone else in front of the trolley to stop it, from the view of a consequentialist?  Does that suggest the consequentialist is wrong?

Is pushing someone under the trolley the same thing as pulling a lever that makes it squash someone?  One is a direct act, the other is a consequence.

What about unforeseen consequences?

It is not about what you think is the right answer, but what the philosophers would stand and argue amongst themselves (while the trolley goes trundling past toward the crowd of innocent children)*.

* Page 28 of this study says 89.9% of the population would switch the trolley and save the children, page 16 says 68% of philosophers would switch the trolley.  The others would wander off to discuss the TMA answer over a bottle of absinthe.

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Page 38: it's even worse.  Only 47.9% of philosophers would actually act and make a decision to switch or not switch.

There'd better be lots of free tables in the station cafe for all these philosophers!