Monday, August 29, 2005

Moral Obligation

Traipsing through Washington Square Park when I saw a sign that read "Moral Test: $3 for participation." I was killing some time, so I approached the man in the Princeton T-shirt. He gave me a clipboard and a very nice pen, so I stole them. Guess I failed.


Anyway, here is the question I answered, via my memory:

There is a runaway trolley careering down the tracks. At the end of the tracks are five workmen, oblivious to the trolley. That trolley gon' kill those workmen. Midway between the trolley and the workmen is an overhead footbridge. On this footbridge is a workman wearing a large backpack and Joe. Assuming that it will stop the trolley, is it morally acceptable for Joe to push the workman off the footbridge onto the tracks?

My answer was that it was 6/9 acceptable, with 9 being the maximum amount of acceptability. But by no means is Joe morally obligated to push the man.

By the way, I used the $3 to buy a prostitute.



Anonymous said...

If not morally obligated, Joe is at least contractually obligated to push the worker, as ready-to-be-pushed workmen strategically positioned on footbridges is the primary safety mechanism of most trolley systems.

You are also morally obligated to knee the test giver in the groin, not only because he is somehow associated with Princeton, but for the blatent gender bias of the question. A fat workwoman thrown from the footbridge would do a much better job of stopping the trolley.

Anonymous said...

What if the workmen were replaced with Gallagher and 'N Synch?

Anonymous said...

Forget the workmen, where did you fine a 3$ prostitute?