In ethical reasoning, the Trolley Problem is an excellent example of what most people find to be ethical and unethical. Unfortunately, there is really no right answer. However, the most common answers to the two Trolley Scenarios are: it is ethical to pull the lever, but it is unethical to push the very large person.
In the scenario of having to pull the level and kill one person verses killing five people, most people’s reaction is to pull the level. This was also my reaction. The ethical reasoning behind this is based on the Teleological or Consequentialist principles, which focuses on the outcome or end result of a decision (Fritzsche, 2005). Whether a person acted in a morally right or wrong way depends solely upon the consequences of the act. In this scenario, more people benefited from the action because their lives were saved, thereby making it ethical based on the teleological or consequentialist principles.
In the scenario of having to push the very large person and killing one person verses killing five people, most people’s reaction is that it is unethical to do such a thing. This was also my reaction. The ethical reasoning behind this is based on the Deontological or Nonconsequentialist principles, which consist of a set of rules – it can be generally classified as either rights or justice based (Fritzche, 2005). A person uses the set of rules to make ethical decisions based on logic and one’s duty. In this scenario, it is both unethical and illegal to knowingly and intentionally cause the death of an innocent person or any person for that matter, regardless of the situation.
For some people, the two scenarios can be overwhelming, as well as confusing. In the first scenario, it is ethical to pull the lever and cause the death of one person opposed to doing nothing and causing the death of five people. Like the old saying, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of one” (Meyer & Sowards, 1982). On the...
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