Utilitarianism – Trolley Problem

Please read “Utilitarianism” which linked below.

Answer the following question in a short paper of about two pages (550 words)
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Do you think that a utilitarian would recommend pushing the man in front of the Trolley car in order to save two lives?  Why or why not?

(For reference, here is the relevant version of the trolley problem:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem#The_fat_man)

Utilitarianism – Trolley Problem 

            Utility being the state of being of beneficial or useful, the ethical dilemma arises when someone’s action are considered to be right if and only if they are helpful and for the benefit of the majority. The question arises, should we harm the minority to benefit the majority? If we opt to pull the fat man into the railway to stop the trolley, are not we harming the one person to achieve the greatest happiness principle of saving the five people on the main track? The preceding chapters will demystify the trolley problem from an utilitarianism point of view.

            An ordinary person will not push the fat man into the railway track to stop the trolley because that will be intending harm to the fat man instead he foresees the dying of the five people as unfortunate. Conversely, the doctrine of double effects puts constraints on intending evil.  The doctrine states that there is a moral constraint on intending evil when the evil will be a means of greater good, (LaFollette and Persson). A utilitarian will push the fat man into the trolley, since by doing so; he or she will be saving the lives of five people despite losing one. In the end, a utilitarian always achieves the greatest happiness principle.

            On the other hand, the concept of doing harm versus allowing harm, also informs how the utilitarian would address the trolley problem. Arguably, doing harm to someone is worse than just allowing harm to the same person. By pushing the fat man into the railway track he or she is doing harm to the fat man, rather than allowing harm to five people in the main railway track. The dilemma arises when the main objective of a utilitarian is to have a greater good at the end. To achieve this, a utilitarian will do what might be considered morally wrong. That is, doing harm instead of allowing harm.  So that he or she maximizes the greatest outcome of the trolley problem which is to save most lives.             A different point of view to look at the trolley problem is evaluating it on the point of introducing versus re-directing harm. By pushing the fat man, the utilitarian will be introducing a new threat to the new man, while re-directing the harm from the five people to the fat man simultaneously. It will be wrong to redirect a harm to kill more people instead of introducing a new threat that will reduce the effect of the harm that the prior threat would have caused. In the event of pushing the fat man, the utilitarian is introducing a new threat, whose greatest outcome will be a loss of one life and saving five. On the other hand, if the utilitarian directed that harm to the five people, then the loss of lives will be five which does not achieve the greatest happiness principle.  
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