Lesser-Known Trolley Problems


Kyle York at McSweeney’s presents a very funny selection of lesser-known trolley problem variations. Here are just a few. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

The Time Traveler
There’s an out of control trolley speeding towards a worker. You have the ability to pull a lever and change the trolley’s path so it hits a different worker. The different worker is actually the first worker ten minutes from now.

The Cancer Caper
There’s an out of control trolley speeding towards four workers. Three of them are cannibalistic serial killers. One of them is a brilliant cancer researcher. You have the ability to pull a lever and change the trolley’s path so it hits just one person. She is a brilliant cannibalistic serial killing cancer researcher who only kills lesser cancer researchers. 14% of these researchers are Nazi-sympathizers, and 25% don’t use turning signals when they drive. Speaking of which, in this world, Hitler is still alive, but he’s dying of cancer.

The Meta-Ethical Problem
There’s an out of control trolley speeding towards Immanuel Kant. You have the ability to pull a lever and change the trolley’s path so it hits Jeremy Bentham instead. Jeremy Bentham clutches the only existing copy of Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. Kant holds the only existing copy of Bentham’s The Principles of Morals and Legislation. Both of them are shouting at you that they have recently started to reconsider their ethical stances.

(via Victor Kumar)

Also along these lines is this classic:

allegory of the trolley problem paradox

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sin nombre
sin nombre
6 years ago

Can you get the Trolley to hit both Bentham and Kant?Report

David Morrow
David Morrow
6 years ago

And don’t forget Michael Patton’s Classic about the trolley and the brain in the vat: http://www.mindspring.com/~mfpatton/Tissues.htmReport

Jasper
Jasper
6 years ago

Probably the most elaborate out there:
http://www.mindspring.com/~mfpatton/Tissues.htmReport