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Questions for Trolley Problem and The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas
1. Most people would save the people on the trolley and kill the man tied to the spur. I probably would do the same thing. But replace the trolley problem with a fat man and the problem is different. I think there is a visceral response to killing the fat man. The problem assumes the two choices are morally equal, but they are not. There is a difference in the way human beings think about actions that makes it morally repulsive to drive over the fat man.
2. Yes, I think aggregating happiness is morally acceptable. Not only should the least quantity of people suffer, but happiness should be distributed to as many people as possible. Sometimes the means justify the ends. Having said that, the trolley problem also shows that it is difficult in practice to make these choices, even if you agree with aggregating happiness.
3. The criticism of the story is that in society we place value on the happiness of the many, at the expense of the unhappiness of the few. I think Le Guin is right to criticize injustice in distributive justice. It is fair to say that happiness IS NOT spread equally in the world. I think the answer is not to walk away from Omelas, however, but to find ways to equally distribute the wealth and resources of the world.
Questions For Pinto Madness and Kant_Criticism of Consequentialism
1. The executives at Ford calculate that if the cost to save a human life rises above $200,000 a person, then it is not worth the cost to implement any future-life saving features on their automobiles. What this means is that, at least when Ford was selling the Pinto, that they were willing to forgo the lives of at least “180 fiery deaths per years.” A Utilitarian would argue differently according to what they consider is the best distribution of happiness. The idea of cost-benefit analysis, that the cost is greater than the benefit, the project is not worth it is not necessarily a strictly Utilitarian maxim of the great possible good for the greatest number of people. The Utilitarian maxim could be read to mean that automotive companies ought to create cars that prevent the least number of deaths. Period. Utilitarians are not economists...
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