The Lit List: The Trolley Problem


Name: The Trolley Problem or Would You Throw the Fat Guy Off the Bridge?

Best Features: Intriguing ideas, short read, leaves you thinking, sheds light on different philosophical and ethical thought processes

Possible Pitfalls: writing style jumps around to various scenarios without consistency, ending may feel inconclusive

Overall Rating: ♥♥♥♥ [4/5]

Discussion: This book was a wonderful and very easy read. It definitely got me thinking a lot about the various aspects of philosophical ethics, and even challenged me to evaluate how I formulate my own opinions. Ultimately, the book centers on the thought experiment of if you were walking on the side of the road, and suddenly you saw a trolley approaching and that it would surely hit and kill five people if it continued on its course. However, you see a lever, in which you can divert the trolley to a different set of tracks. Unfortunately, this other path also has one person tied to the railway. So, would you flip the lever in order to save the five but sacrifice the one, or would you let fate take its course? It’s a tough question, but thankfully the book provides many scenarios and thoughts to consider when trying to validate a response. It gives context for various forms of ethics throughout history, touching different groups such as utilitarians and deontologicals and their views on what “good” is relative to within society. Overall, it’s definitely a great book that encourages thought and I would definitely recommend it if you have a free afternoon.

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