The Last Word On Nothing | The trolley and the psychopath
Here's a good post on the trolley problem and what it may, or may not, show about utilitarianism.
(The site it's on looks like quite a charming mix of science and well crafted writing, too.)
Update: as it happens, I just found a short animation that talks about the trolley problem, via Open Culture, a website I have been meaning to add to my blogroll:
And have I mentioned my own use of a sacrificial dilemma to challenge some Catholics at Catallaxy a couple of years ago? Let 's say a supercriminal with a predilection to setting up ethical dilemmas for pro-Lifers sets up a scenario where 5, or 10, or 200, frozen embryos are sitting on a balance far above the ground, with a young, healthy, randomly chosen and innocent woman on the other side. The physical set up only allows one side to be saved - removing one will cause the other side to tip and plummet to the ground to certain destruction. Surely peoples' reaction to who should be saved tells us something about the status we give to life in embryonic form, compared to that of a healthy adult.
The Catallaxy Catholics did not like this challenge. As far as I can recall, it was never properly addressed.