It has recently been argued that a person’s moral judgments (about both their own and others’ actions) are constrained by the nature and extent of their relevant ignorance and, thus, that such judgments are determined in the first instance by the person’s epistemic circumstances. It has been argued, in other words, that the epistemic is logically prior to other normative (e.g., ethical, prudential, pecuniary) considerations in human decision-making, that these other normative considerations figure in decision-making only after (logically and temporally) (...) relevant ignorance has constrained the decision-maker’s menu of options. If this is right, then a person’s moral judgments in some set of circumstances should vary with their knowledge and ignorance of these circumstances. In this study, we test the hypothesis of the logical priority of the epistemic. We describe two experiments in which subjects’ knowledge and ignorance of relevant consequences were manipulated. In the second experiment, we also compared the effect of ignorance on moral judgments with that of personal force, a factor previously shown to influence moral judgments. We found broad empirical support for the armchair arguments that epistemic considerations are logically prior to normative considerations. (shrink)
I offer eight arguments against the Doctrine of Double Effect, a normative principle according to which in pursuing the good it is sometimes morally permissible to bring about some evil as a side-effect or merely foreseen consequence: the same evil would not be morally justified as an intended means or end.
I analyse the relationship between the Doctrine of Double Effect and the Trolley Problem: the former offers a solution for the latter only on the premise that killing the one in Bystander at the Switch is permissible. Here I offer both empirical and theoretical arguments against the permissibility of killing the one: firstly, I present data from my own empirical studies according to which the intuition that killing the one is permissible is neither widespread nor stable; secondly, I defend a (...) normative principle according to which killing the one in Bystander at the Switch is not permissible. In conclusion, there just is no trolley problem. (shrink)
The philosophical–ethical literature and the public debate on autonomous vehicles have been obsessed with ethical issues related to crashing. In this article, these discussions, including more empirical investigations, will be critically assessed. It is argued that a related and more pressing issue is questions concerning safety. For example, what should we require from autonomous vehicles when it comes to safety? What do we mean by ‘safety’? How do we measure it? In response to these questions, the article will present a (...) foundation for a continued discussion on these issues and an argument for why discussions about safety should be prioritized over ethical concerns related to crashing. (shrink)
Argues for the role of personal acquaintance in both love and concern for individuals, as such. The challenge is to say what personal acquaintance is and why it matters in the way it does. These questions are addressed through the work of Emmanuel Levinas. Topics include: the ethics of aggregation, the basis of moral standing, and the value of human life.
In 2021, Germany passed the first law worldwide that regulates dilemma situations with autonomous cars. Against this background, this article investigates the permissibility of trade-offs between human lives in the context of self-driving cars. It does so by drawing on the debate about the traditional trolley problem. In contrast to most authors in the relevant literature, it argues that the debate about the trolley problem is both directly and indirectly relevant for the ethics of crashes with self-driving cars. Drawing on (...) its direct normative relevance, the article shows that trade-offs are permissible in situations with self-driving cars that are similar to paradigmatic trolley cases. In scenarios that are unlike paradigmatic trolley cases, the debate about the trolley problem can have indirect normative relevance because it provides reasons against the use of moral theories and principles that cannot account for the trolley problem. (shrink)
Consider three cases: -/- Turn: A trolley is about to kill five innocent strangers. You can turn the trolley onto me, saving the five and killing me. -/- Hurl: A trolley is about to kill five innocent strangers. You can hurl me at the trolley, saving the five and paralyzing me. -/- TurnHurl: A trolley is about to kill five innocent strangers. You can turn the trolley onto me, saving the five and killing me. You can instead hurl me at (...) the trolley, saving the five and paralyzing me. -/- Most find the following four claims intuitively plausible: -/- (1) It is permissible to turn the trolley onto me in Turn. (2) It is impermissible to hurl me at the trolley in Hurl. (3) It is impermissible to turn the trolley onto me in TurnHurl. (4) It is permissible to hurl me at the trolley in TurnHurl. -/- But how does turning go from permissible to impermissible, and hurling from impermissible to permissible, when both alternatives are available? I argue that such “secondary permissibility” claims are explained by contrastive consent. Even if I do not consent to being harmed, it is likely I’ll consent to being hurled at the trolley rather than being turned onto. (shrink)
Discussion of the ethics of driverless cars has often focused on supposed real-life versions of the famous trolley problem. In these cases, a driverless car is in a position where crashing is unavoidable and all possible crashes risk harm: for example, it can either continue on its current path and crash into five pedestrians or swerve and crash into one pedestrian. There are significant disanalogies between the human versions of the trolley problem and situations faced by driverless cars which affect (...) the application and moral significance of key deontological distinctions, such as the distinction between doing and allowing harm. The application and moral significance of the doing/allowing distinction in the context of the behaviour of driverless cars depend on (a) our conception of the behaviour of driverless cars; (b) the forms of driverless cars that are developed and used; (c) the background expectations of programmers/manufacturers/owners of driverless cars and the conditions of being able to put those cars on the roads. These are as yet unsettled – and may even be undetermined. Nonetheless, trolley problems may still be useful in thinking about the ethics of driverless cars. (shrink)
Prior research found correlations between reflection test performance and philosophical tendencies among laypeople. In two large studies (total N = 1299)—one pre-registered—many of these correlations were replicated in a sample that included both laypeople and philosophers. For example, reflection test performance predicted preferring atheism over theism and instrumental harm over harm avoidance on the trolley problem. However, most reflection-philosophy correlations were undetected when controlling for other factors such as numeracy, preferences for open-minded thinking, personality, philosophical training, age, and gender. Nonetheless, (...) some correlations between reflection and philosophical views survived this multivariate analysis and were only partially confounded with either education or self-reported reasoning preferences. Unreflective thinking still predicted believing in God whereas reflective thinking still predicted believing that (a) proper names like ‘Santa’ do not necessarily refer to entities that actually exist and (b) science does reveal the fundamental nature of the world. So some robust relationships between reflection and philosophical tendencies were detected even among philosophers, and yet there was clearly more to the link between reflection and philosophy. To this end, demographic and metaphilosophical hypotheses are considered. (shrink)
Sometimes one can prevent harm only by contravening rights. If the harm one can prevent is great enough, compared to the stringency of the opposing rights, then one has a lesser-evil justification to contravene the rights. Non-consequentialist orthodoxy holds that, most of the time, lesser-evil justifications add to agents’ permissible options without taking any away. Helen Frowe rejects this view. She claims that, almost always, agents must act on their lesser-evil justifications. Our primary task is to refute Frowe’s flagship argument. (...) Secondarily, it is to sketch a positive case for nonconsequentialist orthodoxy. (shrink)
"A runaway trolley is speeding down a track" So begins what is perhaps the most fecund thought experiment of the past several decades since its invention by Philippa Foot. Since then, moral philosophers have applied the "trolley problem" as a thought experiment to study many different ethical conflicts - and chief among them is the programming of autonomous vehicles. Nowadays, however, very few philosophers accept that the trolley problem is a perfect analogy for driverless cars or that the situations autonomous (...) vehicles face will resemble the forced choice of the unlucky bystander in the original thought experiment. This book represents a substantial and purposeful effort to move the academic discussion beyond the trolley problem to the broader ethical, legal, and social implications that autonomous vehicles present. There are still urgent questions waiting to be addressed, for example: how AVs might interact with human drivers in mixed or "hybrid" traffic environments; how AVs might reshape our urban landscapes; what unique security or privacy concerns are raised by AVs as connected devices in the "Internet of Things"; how the benefits and burdens of this new technology, including mobility, traffic congestion, and pollution, will be distributed throughout society; and more. An attempt to map the landscape of these next-generation questions and to suggest preliminary answers, this volume draws on the disciplines of philosophy, sociology, economics, urban planning and transportation engineering, business ethics and more, and represents a global range of perspectives. (shrink)
The standard way to test alternative descriptive theories of moral judgment is by asking subjects to evaluate (amongst others) sacrificial dilemmas, where acting classifies as a utilitarian moral judgment and not acting classifies as a deontological moral judgment. Previous research uncovered many situational factors that alter subject’s moral judgments without affecting which type of action utilitarianism or deontology would recommend. This literature review provides a systematic analysis of the experimental literature on the influence of situational factors on moral judgments in (...) sacrificial dilemmas. It analyses 53 articles in detail and reports mean effect sizes, as well as operationalizations, for 36 situational factors that significantly influence moral judgment. Moreover, the review discusses how the impact of situational factors relates to a dual process theory of moral judgment. It supports the view that utilitarian judgments are driven by controlled cognitive processes and shows that the drivers of deontological judgments depend on valence. (shrink)
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, frontline medical professionals at intensive care units around the world faced gruesome decisions about how to ration life-saving medical resources. These events provided a unique lens through which to understand how the public reasons about real-world dilemmas involving trade-offs between human lives. In three studies (total N = 2298), we examined people’s moral attitudes toward the triage of acute coronavirus patients, and found elevated support for utilitarian triage policies. These utilitarian tendencies did not (...) stem from period change in moral attitudes relative to pre-pandemic levels–but rather, from the heightened realism of triage dilemmas. Participants favoured utilitarian resolutions of critical care dilemmas when compared to structurally analogous, non-medical dilemmas–and such support was rooted in prosocial dispositions, including empathy and impartial beneficence. Finally, despite abundant evidence of political polarisation surrounding Covid-19, moral views about critical care triage differed modestly, if at all, between liberals and conservatives. Taken together, our findings highlight people’s robust support for utilitarian measures in the face of a global public health threat, and illustrate how the dominant methods in moral psychology (e.g. trolley cases) may deliver insights that do not generalise to real-world moral dilemmas. (shrink)
The Trolley Problem is one of the most intensively discussed and controversial puzzles in contemporary moral philosophy. Over the last half-century, it has also become something of a cultural phenomenon, having been the subject of scientific experiments, online polls, television programs, computer games, and several popular books. This volume offers newly written chapters on a range of topics including the formulation of the Trolley Problem and its standard variations; the evaluation of different forms of moral theory; the neuroscience and social (...) psychology of moral behavior; and the application of thought experiments to moral dilemmas in real life. The chapters are written by leading experts on moral theory, applied philosophy, neuroscience, and social psychology, and include several authors who have set the terms of the ongoing debates. The volume will be valuable for students and scholars working on any aspect of the Trolley Problem and its intellectual significance. (shrink)
The trolley problem is one of the liveliest research frameworks in experimental ethics. In the last decade, social neuroscience and experimental moral psychology have gone beyond the studies with mere text-based hypothetical moral dilemmas. In this article, I present the rationale behind testing the actual behaviour in more realistic scenarios through Virtual Reality and summarize the body of evidence raised by the experiments with virtual trolley scenarios. Then, I approach the argument of Ramirez and LaBarge (2020), who claim that the (...) virtual simulation of the Footbridge version of the trolley dilemma is an unethical research practice, and I raise some objections to it. Finally, I provide some reflections about the means and ends of trolley-like scenarios and other sacrificial dilemmas in experimental ethics. (shrink)
Since the publication of Judith Thomson’s 1976 paper, solving the Trolley Problem has been a favourite preoccupation of utilitarians and deontologists: Is there a general moral principle that can explain or support our conflicting intuitions in the Bystander and Footbridge cases? Why is it permissible to divert a runaway trolley, thereby killing one person to save five others, but impermissible to push a big man onto a track to save five others? I briefly discuss the reasons why virtue ethicists tend (...) to avoid the Trolley Debate and then, with a few reservations and qualifications in place, go on to argue that a virtue ethicist can support our common-sense intuitions in the Bystander and Footbridge cases while also offering a response to Thomson’s Loop Challenge. (shrink)
Thomson's goal in presenting her famous Trolley problem is to evince an explanatory weakness in the principle that killing is worse than letting die. Along the way, she tries to evince a similar weakness in the Kantian principle forbidding the use of people as mere means (henceforth: the Kantian prohibition). However, Thomson's negative assessment of the Kantian prohibition is unwarranted, and that is what this paper aims to show. The paper is divided into three sections. In the first, I introduce (...) the Kantian prohibition on using persons as mere means. In the second, I explain where the Trolley problem gets onto the wrong track. To do so, I shall engage with Kleingeld's recent and ingenious Kantian contribution to the trolley problem literature. In the third, I sketch some of what is needed for a Kantian solution to the Trolley problem. (shrink)
In this book chapter I argue that, contrary to what is said by Paul Guyer in his book Kant (Routledge, 2006), Kant's moral philosophy prohibits the bystander from throwing the switch to divert the runaway trolley to a side track with an innocent person on it, in order to save more people who are in the path of the trolley, in the "Trolley Problem" case made famous by Judith Jarvis Thomson (1976; 1985). Furthermore, Thomson herself (2008) came to agree that (...) it would be wrong to throw the switch, just as it is wrong to push the person off the bridge to stop the trolley (1976; 1985). In changing her mind about this case, Thomson came to agree with Kant, as well as with Philippa Foot (1967), who argued in original paper that a negative duty not to harm one healthy patient outweighed a positive duty to give aid to five other patients by transplanting the healthy person's organs. (shrink)
It is not yet clear which response behavior requires self-regulatory effort in the moral dilemma task. Previous research has proposed that utilitarian responses require cognitive control, but subsequent studies have found inconsistencies with the empirical predictions of that hypothesis. In this paper we treat participants’ sensitivity to utilitarian gradients as a measure of performance. We confronted participants (N = 82) with a set of five dilemmas evoking a gradient of mean utilitarian responses in a 4-point scale and collected data on (...) heart rate variability and on utilitarian responses. We found positive correlations between tonic and phasic HRV and sensitivity to the utilitarian gradient in the high tonic group, but not in the low tonic group. Moreover, the low tonic group misplaced a scenario with a selfish incentive at the high end of the gradient. Results suggest that performance is represented by sensitivity correlated with HRV and accompanied with a reasonable placement of individual scenarios within the gradient. (shrink)
This chapter critiques the use of the trolley problem—a well-known ethics thought experiment that highlights the limitations of utilitarian ethics—and its frequent application in discussions of autonomous vehicle safety. It introduces other approaches that include “moral crumple zones”, “wicked problems”, and gradations of system control, and considers the ethical issues of Department of Defense funding in tech companies. It suggests that approaches from design might help to better engender the dynamics at play in computational technologies and frame their ethical implications.
Since its inception, the trolley problem has sparked a rich debate both within and beyond moral philosophy. Often used as a primer for students to begin thinking about moral intuitions as well as how to distinguish between different forms of moral reasoning, the trolley problem is not without its uses in very practical, applied field like engineering. Often thought of as unrealistic by technically-oriented engineers, trolley cases in fact, help us to think about moral responsibility in a high tech world. (...) This chapter explores the usefulness of trolley-like thinking within the realm of responsible innovation and discusses how despite the inherent issues with trolley scenarios, they remain nonetheless an indispensable tool for helping us to explore ways to maximize our moral responsibility in innovation. (shrink)
Introduced by the British philosopher Philippa Foot, the trolley problem asks us to imagine a runaway trolley heading toward five unfortunate workmen. They can only be saved from being crushed and killed if the trolley is diverted to a side track, occupied by a sixth unfortunate workman who would meet the same fate. For the early Michael, a demon torturer and architect of the human afterlife, the 'problem' here is how we could manage to kill all six workmen. But, in (...) line with what may be The Good Place's most dominant moral theme, even an immortal demon torturer can learn human ethics. After he has learned what it means to face a moral dilemma, Michael claims to have solved the (real) trolley problem: you should sacrifice yourself. Although self-sacrifice is not an available option in the set up of the original trolley problem, this article argues that self-sacrifice might still have normative implications for our judgements about different kinds of trolley cases. (shrink)
This chapter proposes a solution to the Trolley Problem in terms of the Kantian prohibition on using a person ‘merely as a means.’ A solution of this type seems impossible due to the difficulties it is widely thought to encounter in the scenario known as the Loop case. The chapter offers a conception of ‘using merely as a means’ that explains the morally relevant difference between the classic Bystander and Footbridge cases. It then shows, contrary to the standard view, that (...) a bystander who diverts the trolley in the Loop case need not be using someone ‘merely as a means’ in doing so. This makes it possible to show why the Loop scenario does not undermine the explanation of the salient moral difference between the Bystander and Footbridge cases. (shrink)
El autor recobra las fuentes originales del llamado Dilema del Tranvía pues considera que existe confusión sobre quién es el autor original. Sostiene que no es Phillipa Foot como suele citarse comúnmente, ni siquiera Judith Thomson, sino que sus raíces son más lejanas y se encuentran en dos juristas alemanes: Hans Welzel y, aún antes, Karl Engisch. Propone que la solución al dilema está dada desde el Derecho positivo y no en especulaciones consecuencialistas. ABSTRACT The author recovers the original sources (...) of the so-called Trolley Dilemma because he considers that there is confusion about who the original author is. He argues that it is not Phillipa Foot as it is commonly cited, not even Judith Thomson, but that its roots are more distant and are found in two German jurists: Hans Welzel and, even earlier, Karl Engisch. Proposes that the solution to the dilemma is given from the positive law and not in consequentialist speculations. (shrink)
I argue that ignorance of who will die makes a difference to the ethics of killing. It follows that reasons are subject to ‘specificity’: it can be rational to respond more strongly to facts that provide us with reasons than to the fact that such reasons exist. In the case of killing and letting die, these reasons are distinctively particular: they turn on personal acquaintance. The theory of rights must be, in part, a theory of this relation.
(This is a book review of Mark Fedyk's The Social Turn in Moral Psychology.) Mark Fedyk argues persuasively for both the importance and the perils of interdisciplinarity in studies of ethical life. The book is dense with incisive argumentation and innovative proposals for integrating moral, social, and political philosophy with the psychological and social sciences. It will be of interest to aprioristically inclined normative and social theorists peeking over the fence at the empirical side of things, to experimentalists trying to (...) operationalize or intervene upon real-world ethical thought and action—and to everyone in between... (shrink)
Resumen: En este artículo se analizan cinco argumentos a favor del deontologismo. Sin embargo, considera que ninguno de ellos es suficiente para sostener que una ética por principios deba ser preferible a una ética por consenso o utilitarista. Concluye que lo anterior, no cancela la necesidad de adoptar una legitimidad conceptual que los derechos humanos reclaman. Desde una racionalidad teórica, una ética normativa no podrá ser jamás justificada, en cambio, desde una racionalidad práctica, considera el autor que es mejor seguir (...) creyendo en la valía de los derechos humanos como un imperativo universal, aunque racionalmente indemostrable. (shrink)
I focus on the question as to what rationale could possibly underlie the doctrine of double effect or related principles. I first briefly review the correct critiques of the claim that people who intend some evil as a means to a good must be “guided by evil,” and that this is allegedly always wrong. I then argue that Quinn’s claim that violations of the DDE express certain negative attitudes of the agent and that agents violating the DDE must make an (...) additional morally problematic presumption regarding their victims is mistaken. Tadros claims that an agent violating the means principle must force his victims to adopt his goals. I demonstrate that the difference Tadros tries to construe between an agent inflicting intended harm and an agent inflicting merely foreseen harm is non-existent. Sarch’s official rationale for the DDE also fails to distinguish harming as a means from side-effect harming, and reformulations of his rationale that suggest themselves run into severe problems. Walen’s defense of the means principle in terms of the “restricting claims principle” and Øverland’s appeal to “moral obstacles” are susceptible to counter-examples and appear to be question-begging. Recently, Walen has offered a revised formulation of his Restricting Claims Principle, claiming that it overcomes counter-examples and explains the means principle. I will argue that it contradicts the means principle and does not overcome the counter-examples. Thus I conclude that so far we are still left without a reasonable rationale for the DDE or related principles. (shrink)
Many philosophers, psychologists, and medical practitioners believe that killing is no worse than letting die on the basis of James Rachels's Bare-Difference Argument. I show that his argument is unsound. In particular, a premise of the argument is that his examples are as similar as is consistent with one being a case of killing and the other being a case of letting die. However, the subject who lets die has both the ability to kill and the ability to let die (...) while the subject who kills lacks the ability to let die. Modifying the latter example so that the killer has both abilities yields a pair of cases with morally different acts. The hypothesis that killing is worse than letting die is the best explanation of this difference. (shrink)
Trolley cases are widely considered central to the ethics of autonomous vehicles. We caution against this by identifying four problems. Trolley cases, given technical limitations, rest on assumptions that are in tension with one another. Furthermore, trolley cases illuminate only a limited range of ethical issues insofar as they cohere with a certain design framework. Furthermore, trolley cases seem to demand a moral answer when a political answer is called for. Finally, trolley cases might be epistemically problematic in several ways. (...) To put forward a positive proposal, we illustrate how ethical challenges arise from mundane driving situations. We argue that mundane situations are relevant because of the specificity they require and the scale they exhibit. We then illustrate some of the ethical challenges arising from optimizing for safety, balancing safety with other values such as mobility, and adjusting to incentives of legal frameworks. (shrink)
Argues that the ethics of killing and saving lives is best described by agent-neutral consequentialism, not by appeal to agent-centred restrictions. It does not follow that killings are worse than accidental deaths or that you should kill one to prevent more killings. The upshot is a puzzle about killing and letting die.
Arguing against the doctrine of double effect, Bennett claims that the terror bomber only intends to make his victims appear dead. An obvious reply is that he intends to make them appear dead by killing them. I argue that the alleged refutations of this reply rest on a mistaken test question to determine what an agent intends, as Bennett's own test question confirms, and that Bennett is misled by confusing metaphorical death and literal death. Moreover, Bennett's argument is half-hearted anyway, (...) and going the whole way would not only undermine the DDE but also Quinn's revision of it. (shrink)
There are different formulations of the doctrine of double effect, and sometimes philosophers propose “revisions” or alternatives, like the means principle, for instance. To demonstrate that such principles are needed in the first place, one would have to compare cases in which all else is equal and show that the difference in intuitions, if any, can only be explained by the one remaining difference and thus by the principle in question. This is not the methodology defenders of the DDE and (...) of related principles use, however. I will discuss how they actually proceed, focusing on their preferred four pairs of examples. While these examples might have rhetorical force, they are nevertheless philosophically and methodologically useless. As a corrective, I shall offer examples that do keep all else equal. These examples undermine the DDE and related principles. I then argue that while the Loop case and the “closeness” problem in the context of Jonathan Bennett’s Sophisticated Bomber example might once have been an embarrassment of sorts for defenders of the DDE, meanwhile their discussion serves as a convenient distraction from the many clear examples disproving the DDE and related principles. I conclude that the methodological mistakes found in defenses of the DDE – the biased framing, the rigged examples, the empirically unwarranted claims about how widely shared certain intuitions are, and the avoidance of the strongest counter-examples – can only be explained by systematic bias. There is simply no sufficient intuitive support for the DDE or related principles. Thus, instead of looking for their “rationales,” they should be abandoned. (shrink)
Self-driving cars currently face a lot of technological problems that need to be solved before the cars can be widely used. However, they also face ethical problems, among which the question of crash-optimization algorithms is most prominently discussed. Reviewing current debates about whether we should use the ethics of the Trolley Dilemma as a guide towards designing self-driving cars will provide us with insights about what exactly ethical research does. It will result in the view that although we need the (...) ethics of the Trolley Dilemma as important input for self-driving cars, the route towards simply implementing it into automated cars is blocked. (shrink)
For ambitious metaphysical neo-sentimentalists, all normative facts are grounded in fitting attitudes, where fittingness is understood in naturalistic terms. In this paper, I offer a neo-sentimentalist account of blameworthiness in terms of the reactive attitudes of a morally authoritative subject I label a Nagelian Imp. I also argue that moral impermissibility is indirectly linked to blameworthiness: roughly, an act is morally impermissible if and only if and because it is not *possible* in the circumstances to adopt a plan of performing (...) it without meriting blame, assuming the agent is rational, informed, and meets the conditions of accountability. (shrink)
With their prospect for causing both novel and known forms of damage, harm and injury, the issue of responsibility has been a recurring theme in the debate concerning autonomous vehicles. Yet, the discussion of responsibility has obscured the finer details both between the underlying concepts of responsibility, and their application to the interaction between human beings and artificial decision-making entities. By developing meaningful distinctions and examining their ramifications, this article contributes to this debate by refining the underlying concepts that together (...) inform the idea of responsibility. Two different approaches are offered to the question of responsibility and autonomous vehicles: targeting and risk distribution. The article then introduces a thought experiment which situates autonomous vehicles within the context of crash optimisation impulses and coordinated or networked decision-making. It argues that guiding ethical frameworks overlook compound or aggregated effects which may arise, and which can lead to subtle forms of structural discrimination. Insofar as such effects remain unrecognised by the legal systems relied upon to remedy them, the potential for societal inequalities is increased and entrenched, situations of injustice and impunity may be unwittingly maintained. This second set of concerns may represent a hitherto overlooked type of responsibility gap arising from inadequate accountability processes capable of challenging systemic risk displacement. (shrink)
The Trolley Problem arises from a set of moral dilemmas, most of which involve tradeoffs between causing one death and preventing several more deaths. The normative and descriptive Trolley Problems are closely related. The normative Trolley Problem begins with the assumption that authors' natural responses to these cases are generally, if not uniformly, correct. Thus, any attempt to solve the normative Trolley Problem begins with an attempt to solve the descriptive problem, to identify the features of actions that elicit their (...) moral approval or disapproval. The chapter explains an empirical research paper to provide an approximate descriptive solution to the Trolley Problem. More specifically, this research highlights the influence of two factors that exert a powerful influence when both are present. From a normative perspective, the personal force factor is notable because it is not one that the authors ordinarily regard as morally relevant. (shrink)
There has been a great deal of philosophical discussion about using people, using people intentionally, using people as a means to some end, and using people merely as a means to some end. In this paper, I defend the following claim about using people: NOT ALWAYS WRONG: using people—even merely as a means—is not always morally objectionable. Having defended that claim, I suggest that the following claim is also correct: NO ONE FEATURE: when it is morally objectionable to use people, (...) this is for many different kinds of reasons—there is no one wrong-making feature that every morally objectionable using has in common. After discussing these claims, I use them to present and motivate what I call the “precaution” theory of norms against using people. I conclude by considering a few cases from the criminal law context—cases that are naturally described as using people—to assess the moral appropriateness of this kind of use in these cases, and to demonstrate how the theory applies to the real world. (shrink)
This book argues that critics of consequentialism have not been able to make a successful and comprehensive case against all versions of consequentialism because they have been using the wrong methodology. This methodology relies on the crucial assumption that consequentialist theories share a defining characteristic. This text interprets consequentialism, instead, as a family resemblance term. On that basis, it argues quite an ambitions claim, viz. that all versions of consequentialism should be rejected, including those that have been created in response (...) to conventional criticisms. The book covers a number of classic themes in normative ethics, metaethics and, particularly, ethical methodology and also touches upon certain aspects of experimental moral philosophy. It is written in clear language and is analytic in its argumentative style. As such, the book should appeal to students, graduate students as well as professional academics with an interest in analytic moral philosophy. (shrink)
Self-driving cars hold out the promise of being safer than manually driven cars. Yet they cannot be a 100 % safe. Collisions are sometimes unavoidable. So self-driving cars need to be programmed for how they should respond to scenarios where collisions are highly likely or unavoidable. The accident-scenarios self-driving cars might face have recently been likened to the key examples and dilemmas associated with the trolley problem. In this article, we critically examine this tempting analogy. We identify three important ways (...) in which the ethics of accident-algorithms for self-driving cars and the philosophy of the trolley problem differ from each other. These concern: the basic decision-making situation faced by those who decide how self-driving cars should be programmed to deal with accidents; moral and legal responsibility; and decision-making in the face of risks and uncertainty. In discussing these three areas of disanalogy, we isolate and identify a number of basic issues and complexities that arise within the ethics of the programming of self-driving cars. (shrink)
A rigorous treatment of a thought experiment that has become notorious within and outside of philosophy - The Trolley Problem - by one of the most influential moral philosophers alive todaySuppose you can stop a trolley from killing five people, but only by turning it onto a side track where it will kill one. May you turn the trolley? What if the only way to rescue the five is to topple a bystander in front of the trolley so that his (...) body stops it but he dies? May you use a device to stop the trolley that will kill a bystander as a side effect? The "Trolley Problem" challenges us to explain and justify our different intuitive judgments about these and related cases and has spawned a huge literature. F.M. Kamm's 2013 Tanner Lectures present some of her views on this notorious moral conundrum. After providing a brief history of changing views of what the problem is about and attempts to solve it, she focuses on two prominent issues: Does who turns the trolley and how the harm is shifted affect the moral permissibility of acting? The answers to these questions lead to general proposals about when we may and may not harm some to help others. Three distinguished philosophers - Judith Jarvis Thomson, Thomas Hurka, and Shelly Kagan - then comment on Kamm's proposals. She responds to each comment at length, providing an exceptionally rich elaboration and defense of her views. The Trolley Problem Mysteries is an invaluable resource not only to philosophers concerned about the Trolley Problem, but to anyone worried about how we ought to act when we can lessen harm to some by harming others and how we can reach a decision about the question. (shrink)
The Trolley Problem Mysteries considers whether who turns the trolley and/or how it is turned affect the moral permissibility of acting and suggests general proposals for when we may and may not harm some people to help others.
Bankers have a reputation for deviating from standard morals. It is an open question, though, if this claim can be substantiated. Here, it is tested directly if bankers respond differently to moral dilemmas. Evaluations of the moral acceptableness of behavioural options in two trolley cases by bankers (n = 23) are compared to those of ordinary people (n = 274). An apparent difference in response behaviour between the groups can be fully explained by a difference in the response behaviour of (...) men and women. When controlling for gender, no differences between bankers and other people remain. (shrink)
Cognitive scientists have revealed systematic errors in human reasoning. There is disagreement about what these errors indicate about human rationality, but one upshot seems clear: human reasoning does not seem to fit traditional views of human rationality. This concern about rationality has made its way through various fields and has recently caught the attention of philosophers. The concern is that if philosophers are prone to systematic errors in reasoning, then the integrity of philosophy would be threatened. In this paper, I (...) present some of the more famous work in cognitive science that has marshaled this concern. Then I present reasons to think that those with training in philosophy will be less prone to certain systematic errors in reasoning. The suggestion is that if philosophers could be shown to be less prone to such errors, then the worries about the integrity of philosophy could be constrained. Then I present evidence that, according to performance on the CRT (Frederick 2005), those who have benefited from training and selection in philosophy are indeed less prone to one kind of systematic error: irrationally arbitrating between intuitive and reflective responses. Nonetheless, philosophers are not entirely immune to this systematic error, and their proclivity for this error is statistically related to their responses to a variety of philosophical questions. So, while the evidence herein puts constraints on the worries about the integrity of philosophy, it by no means eliminates these worries. The conclusion, then, is that the present evidence offers prima facie reasons to ascribe a mitigated privilege to philosophers' ability to rationally arbitrate between intuitive and reflective responses. (shrink)
Ethics Without Intention tackles the questions raised by difficult moral dilemmas by providing a critical analysis of double effect and its most common ethical and political applications. The book discusses the philosophical distinction between intended harm and foreseen but unintended harm. This distinction, which, according to the doctrine of double effect, makes a difference to the moral justification of actions, is widely applied to some of the most controversial ethical and political questions of our time: collateral damages in wars and (...) acts of terrorism; palliative care, euthanasia, abortion, and embryo research; self-defence, suicide, and self-sacrifice. It is also crucial to the now notorious theoretical cases of the trolley problem and the knobe effect. -/- Di Nucci approaches the doctrine of double effect from four key directions: its historical origins, which can be traced further back than the classic attribution to Aquinas; its theoretical coherence, which is the subject of a lively contemporary debate in philosophy; its moral intuitiveness, which has always been taken for granted but has recently begun to be questioned; and finally its relevance to the difficult moral and political decisions of our time. An engaging and comprehensive introduction to the doctrine of double effect. (shrink)