Would you push a fat person off a bridge?

United States
September 6, 2008 9:01pm CST
I was taking a philosophy class and our teacher asked us these three scenarios. 1: You are standing by the switch near a train track. The train is coming and the brakes are broken. The train is headed on a path where it will run over five people who are tied to the tracks, killing them. If you pull the switch, the train will switch direction and go on a track where it will kill 1 person who is tied to the tracks, but if you don't pull it he will be safe. You have no time to untie anyone. What do you do? 2: You are standing on a bridge over a train track. The train is coming, the brakes are broken, and there are 5 people tied to the tracks. There is a fat man on the bridge. This man is fat enough that if you pushed him, he would stop the train from running over the 5 people, but he would be killed. Do you push him? 3: Same situation as #2, but the fat man is standing on a trapdoor. You are standing by a lever that will open the trapdoor, he will fall onto the tracks, stop the train from running over the five people, and be killed. Do you pull it? In my class (made of people from 8th - 11th grade), 3/4ths of the class picked to pull the switch in #1, 1/4 of the class chose to push the man in #2, and 2/4 of the class chose to pull the lever in #3. What would you do?
6 people like this
12 responses
@hardluck (375)
• United States
7 Sep 08
1- If I switch the track, then I have killed that person, who ever tied the five people to the tracks killed them five not me. To me I don't think I would want that persons blood on my hands, maybe most people would say your trading five for one, but I didn't kill the five, But if I switch the tracks I killed that person. The same with 2 and 3, I would not interfere. Maybe that's just a cop out, I'd hate to have to make that choise. Have a great day, Hardluck.
3 people like this
• United States
7 Sep 08
True, but you just stood there and watched the people die, knowing that it was in your power to stop it. To me, that feels the same as pulling the switch/pushing the man. Thanks for posting =)
1 person likes this
@hardluck (375)
• United States
7 Sep 08
Yeah; that's what my ole lady said, so I have to disagree, because that would make her right and I couldn't have that. LOL
2 people like this
• United States
7 Sep 08
Hehe
@hiddenwing (3721)
• China
7 Sep 08
Of course not! How come?
2 people like this
• United States
7 Sep 08
I wanted to know what the people of myLot thought about this. Why would you chose not to?
1 person likes this
@Hatley (164654)
• Garden Grove, California
7 Sep 08
common sense wow what a situation I hate it pull the switch on one. no.2. push the fat man,because he just might be only hurt 'No 3.pull the lever againin hop;es the fat man might only be hurt. Ihate this as it gives you no humane outlet. sadistic and unsettling.
1 person likes this
• United States
7 Sep 08
Hehe, it is kind of morbid... Let's just hope we don't ever end up in a situation like this, eh? Thanks for replying.
@myklj999 (13877)
• Olney, Illinois
7 Sep 08
If I'm gonna see blood and guts, I wanna see a lot of blood and guts, so I would do nothing.
1 person likes this
@Ithink (10673)
• United States
7 Sep 08
This is an excellent lesson and I think it brings out alot of things in a person. I posed this to my older children as we ate breakfast and was facinated by their answers and of course being teens it didnt take them long to decide anything.. LOL I myself thought about it and here is my answers #1. I would have to throw the switch and save the 5 instead of the 1 person. #2. This one was harder and I understood why, I would have to touch a person personally to get the same outcome. Would I? I honestly dont think I would. To have to feel their warm flesh and know that I am ending it .. cant do it. #3. I know that the outcome is the same and yet I think I would. Reason Im touching a non-living item to save 5 people. I dont have to feel the live person. I know in the end it is the same yet in your mind it is a little different.
@stephcjh (32328)
• United States
7 Sep 08
I'm not sure what I would do. that would be a very hard decision to make. I would want to save all of them and my time would run out before I could actually make the decision.
1 person likes this
@lou1982 (122)
8 Sep 08
i think those results are terrible the amount of people saying the would kill that one person its just the same as saying bush was rite to go to war what a few soldiers matter if you can save more (or rather take cheap oil) if the question was different like would you save the one or the five then i would save the five but to kill someone to save someone else that makes it as bad as the person who put them there
11 Sep 08
Only if the person who put them there achieved some greater good by doing so. The question asked of you was 'would YOU pull the lever/push the man etc?' and therefore your response is not so surprising. What if the situation were: A man has the lever in his hands. What should HE do? And why by the way do you not view this predicament as 'save the one or the five'? The train is unstoppable; one of the groups must die, one of the groups will be saved. It IS either or.
@barehugs (8986)
• Canada
8 Sep 08
Why would I want to kill anyone to save someone else? This does not make Commonsense to me. Its utter nonsense, like saying," Lets drop an atomic bomb on Japan! Sure we'll kill 200,000 people but we'll stop the war!" Does this make any sense to you? It didn't make any sense to the Japanese people either! Peace be with you!
• United States
8 Sep 08
Didn't make much sense when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor either... Its called cause and effect...
1 person likes this
• United States
7 Sep 08
It all depends on the one person that has to die... In the 1st scenario if the one guy knew the cure for cancer or aids or something else then I would save him and let the other people die..grant it if those five people didn't have the cure for something too.. In the 2nd and 3rd one of the fat guy was important in some way that the other people were not then he would live but if he was just fat then I would feel better saving 5 lives rather than one...
@MissGia (955)
• United States
7 Sep 08
i like questions like these because they really make you think and they test you as a person. As far as the first scenario..i would make that choice that would kill less people. the 2nd and 3rd scenario..no i would not push man off the bridge or make him fall through a trap door. If the man knew he was heavy enough to stop it that is his choice to risk him self to save 5 people..not my choice.
@AamidMS (73)
• India
7 Sep 08
let the 1 person go to heaven for saving the 5, similarly the fatty, let him use his birthlong flesh to save ppl, he may feel good... this is it without using brains...box
@Seppy1984 (2148)
• United States
7 Sep 08
I am gonna pick one scenario. The one I am gonna pick would be scenario 1. I know it says that you would not have time to untie anyone but this is how I would do it. I would pull the switch and run to the other person and try my best to untie him/her. I figure that way even if I could not untie him in time that I would not feel guilty because I tried to save him/her. And if I had to pick between the other two I would have to pick number three because the way I see it I would not want to feel too guilty about touching the fat guy and killing him because I would go insaine because the last thing I touched was his body before he hit the tracks and got hit. And If I went with number 3 like I said I would not feel so guilty because I did not have to touch the guy.