The Trolley Experiment Analysis

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The Trolley Experiment: Do You Pull It?
Imagine you sit atop a hill overlooking a train track that splits into two, the sun shining over you in magnificence. As you enjoy the beautiful day, you are horrified to see a trolley careening down the track towards five unsuspecting workers at such a speed that will undoubtedly kill them. You are too far to yell and alert them, but you do notice a lever a few feet away that, if pulled, will change the cart’s direction and save the five workers’ lives. However, on the other end of track, a man is sleeping. Likewise, you are too far away to alert him, so if you pull the lever, the cart will bowl in his direction and kill him. Should you pull the lever, or not? This scenario, known as the Trolley Problem, was introduced by Philippa Foot in her 1967
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In Martin McDonagh’s play, The Pillow Man, a pseudo-cop character weaves a similar tale to the trolley experiment about a deaf boy wandering down railroad tracks. As the deaf boy trudges along, a train barrels towards him in the distance. The boy cannot hear the train, and he will be undoubtedly killed once the train approaches him. However, in the far distance, there is a tall tower with an open window at the top where an old, kooky man lives. The old man, seeing the boy, does not act, but instead does a mathematical calculation to devilishly see when the boy will be hit by the train so that he can watch. As the boy is one foot away from the spot where the old man calculated that the train would splatter him, the boy steps off the track and the train whizzes by him. While the moral of the story within the context of the play attributes more to the parallel paths that people cross with destiny lurking around them, when laid in congruence with the trolley experiment, it yields a message that events have a way of happening, and the ethics of any situation is really about making a choice that you can live with because it is all individual, and uncertainty exists in every

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