Trolley Problem; Tata Group's Response to the Mumbai Terrorist Attack (560 words)

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Question

Respond to the following cases:

(1) Version 2 of the Trolley Problem

Most people would steer a run-away trolley toward one rather than have it kill 5 people. But consider this twist: suppose there is no switch in the track, but still, there are 5 people about to be killed by the run-away trolley. But you are standing above the tracks, and you notice that there is a man so fat that if you push him onto the tracks, he will die by blocking the trolley but the 5 will be saved (you are not fat enough to save the 5 by jumping onto the track yourself).

It may surprise you to know that most people would choose NOT to push the fat man, even though they said that they WOULD steer the car away from the 5 and kill the 1.

So there are two questions: 1) are people being inconsistent in their answers? (because either way, one person dies in order for 5 to live); and 2) what would you do?

(2) Consider the example of Tata's exceedingly caring response toward its employees in the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attack. Is this good business? Why or why not? Could the Tata group be richer? Would that be better?

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Trolley Problem
1. Whether or not people are being inconsistent in their answers depends, I think, on the scope at which the question is asked. If all we’re concerned with is that one person dies so that five others live, then, yes, people are being inconsistent when they approve of one course of action with that outcome but not another. But if we’re concerned with why they make those choices, the inconsistency vanishes, I think. ...

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