Instigator / Pro
4
1731
rating
167
debates
73.05%
won
Topic
#2633

# Should you switch the trolley track on the problem described in the description section below?

Status
Finished

The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

Winner & statistics
Better arguments
0
3
Better sources
2
2
Better legibility
1
1
Better conduct
1
1

After 1 vote and with 3 points ahead, the winner is...

CalebEr
Tags
Parameters
Publication date
Last updated date
Type
Standard
Number of rounds
3
Time for argument
One week
Max argument characters
10,000
Voting period
Two weeks
Point system
Multiple criterions
Voting system
Open
Contender / Con
7
1519
rating
4
debates
50.0%
won
Description

This is the description I am referring to. Kritiks aren't allowed.

Trolley Problem: This is my version of the story we will be using and using any other stories that contradicts my tale will be against the rules and any points based on said other stories will be nullified.

Suppose on your job you are driving a trolley that can't be stopped for some reason, and there are 5 people tied to the track on your usual route that is the cleanest, and there is a single person tied onto an unused branch that leads to a whole different place(that can, however, lead back to your usual route, but you do not know where this branch leads to exactly). The 6 people never ride your trolley and you do not know them. In the trolley there are approx. 20-30 passengers. You have the choice of going straight and crush those 5 people vs switch the track to turn to the right, and going on a branch killing 1 person. Which one do you choose?

I, Intelligence_06, will choose the Pro stance, that is, said driver should keep going straight and in the way crushing 5 people to their death.

You, the challenger, will choose the Con stance, that is, said driver should turn to the right, go on a branch and crushing 1 person.

The Burden of Proof is shared. Good luck!

Round 1
Pro
#1
Due to that I am unable to hold grasp of my computer(or my phone in most scenarios) within my new school, I apologize for the late response. Unless my friend CalebEr completes his first argument before Sunday, it is not to be expected for me to type a new argument before next Friday.

However, within the weekdays, I have been contemplating my argument. Here are the results.

Argument 1: Suppose on your job you are driving a trolley...

For the very first argument, I will quickly utilize the conditions within the descriptions. Your job is to drive a trolley, per the definitions stating. Nope, you are not volunteered to drive a broken trolley and your job is not to save random people you see on the path.

Oh yeah, and the syllogism.

1. Doing your job is more important than doing things that explicit prevent you for carrying our your mission within your job
2. Your job is to drive the trolley and deliver the people to the stations, not to save random people on the tracks
3. Thus, driving the trolley is more important than saving people on the tracks
4. Thus, you should prefer going on the original path.
It is a truism that you should do your job compared to do things that go against it, especially if there is nothing at all inherently immoral about said jobs. If you go on the original path, you are doing your job, especially helping the lives of 20-30 people for the cost of 5. Not to mention, going on the branch in which one person is laid on that you don't know the exact location could land you in complete trouble as the 20-30 people on your trolley put money in your box for the stations on the MAIN path, not the branch.

Not to mention, your job is to protect the 20-30 people on the trolley, not the 6 people on the tracks. Switching the track would mean protecting individuals not in our service range in spite for people that we are meant to serve. That is of course, irrational.

A little physics... nah, forget it

Common sense tells you that if you drive over bumps, the car slows down. What about the trolley? Even if the brakes don't work, driving over people, which serve as bumps, slows the trolley down to a more acceptable speed for more people to arrive on the stations on the main path. If the trolley is at a low enough speed, the 5 bumps may even stop the trolley and more people are saved(if the trolley did not go over all 5 people). Even if the stations are on the branch with 1 person, the trolley would not slow down as much for the people to even land on the ground without losing balance and injuring themselves.

Trolleys normally appear in a lot of cities, and common sense tells them that if they lose balance and injure themselves, more people may unconsciously step on them, worsening the situation. The best-case scenario with going on the path with 1 person is walking for a much longer distance, and the worst-case scenario is that all 20-30 people go to the ICU. Saving up to 30 people for the cost of 5 and it is with your job? I am all for it I guess.

Argument 2. Psychological whatevers...

The 5 people lying on the original track must have had accepted their fate to be crushed by trolley, while the one person, who accepted that he should be able to live longer because the main path is where the trolley should go. This problem is quickly turned into a scenario where you save 5 crime convicts from the death row, and unwillingly replace one of them with some law-obeying citizen minding their own business and had no idea that it is even possible for him to be convicted of a crime.

The 5 people are ready for death anyways, crushing them with the trolley is not inherently evil as indirectly they asked for it. The 1 person is not ready for anything coming, and letting him live for some more according to his will is also good.

Sources and rebuttals are not needed. I end my case here.

• Going on the main path is your job and doing it instead of things directly against it is better.
• We should protect people we are meant to protect in favor of people we are not meant to protect.
• Driving over 5 people will more likely to slow your trolley to a more acceptable speed, preventing further injuries for the passengers.
• The 5 people are ready for death, driving over them is more or less OK.
• The 1 person is not ready for death. You know the drill.
• You should go straight on the main path, crushing 5 people, but may more or less save the 20-30 people you are supposed to save.

Con
#2
All right, I’m going to skip the formalities and cut straight to the point.

Argument -
The debate question at hand is one that seems, for all intents and purposes, useless from a pragmatist’s perspective. There is no applicability here. The situation posed above is so niche and so trivial that I seriously doubt that any of us will ever run across anything even remotely similar to it. So practically speaking, this quandary is irrelevant.

Of course, the point isn’t whether the listed conditions are feasible or not, but rather what kind of stance we would feel inclined to take if under said conditions and what implications that has for our existing moral framework. Strip away the absurdity of the thought experiment and you’re left with a pressing ethical dilemma that could very well have ramifications on the way we behave and conduct society.

To get the ball rolling, I’m going to make a relatively uncontroversial claim: life is intrinsically precious and therefore deserves our protection. It’s safe to say that this is self-evidently true, so unless my opponent has any counter-remarks or objections I’m going to take it as a given. From my perspective, any view running counter to this would require a lot of brainpower and philosophizing to defend, and even then that probably wouldn’t suffice. To object to my assertion is to desecrate your own worth, not to mention the rest of humanity’s. In fact, if you don’t believe life is worth guarding then it doesn’t matter which horn you choose. Kill the 5 or the 1 - ultimately it’s irrelevant which way you go if life doesn’t have an inherent value. As far as I’m concerned, any offshoot of this stance has abandoned the arena of ethics and entered into one of extreme pragmatism - The question becomes not “What is right?” but “What is most convenient in the immediate future?”. The deciding factor shifts to expedience rather than moral character. And the issue is, you can’t commit to such a view only halfway. Either expedience is the key, and therefore ends justify the means; or else it isn’t, in which case ethical problems have to be considered in isolation, disregarding any potential outcome they might bring about.

That’s what this debate boils down to. Either ends justify the means, or they don't. As anyone who has studied this issue even cursorily can inform you, choosing the former forces you to accept a lot of side-baggage. If ends justify the means, that necessitates that horrid statements such as “It is ok to murder children if it netts in a positive result.” are vindicated and even viable. Not only is it outright shameful to lend this view any credence, it’s also completely unworkable. You can’t maintain a civil society without rejecting the consequentialist ethic because, under it, tyranny, oppression, violent revolt, treason, murder, treachery, and virtually every other manifestation of evil can be endlessly legitimized and carried out. Within the rubric of consequentialism, the boundaries only stretch out as far as your imagination. If you can convince yourself that the murder you’d like to commit will actualize a good result, then according to this ethic you should go ahead and execute your plan. The only limit to this stance is how many mental contortions you can do before you wear yourself out. As long as you can justify it to yourself, your opponents have no valid argument against you. And judging from human history, it can take quite a while for humans to tire themselves drumming up excuses for their crimes. Morbid creativity becomes the standard in what actions you should or shouldn't pursue.

Opting for the latter, on the other hand, entails that you focus on the action itself rather than its effect. You can consider what impact your actions might have, but generally, that shouldn’t be factored into the decision itself - and it certainly shouldn’t be what sways your choice. If this is truly the case - if moral actions are to be considered separately from the results they effectuate - then in essence the situation we’re currently examining distills down to “Which action will ensure the survival of the most victims?” As I said before, life is sacred, meaning that if we’re employing normal standards here and only using the facts that have been made available, then the protection of the most life will invariably be the best option.

A brief examination of my opponent’s arguments
“Going on the main path is your job and doing it instead of things directly against it is better.”
“Driving over 5 people will more likely to slow your trolley to a more acceptable speed, preventing further injuries for the passengers.”
What I’ve outlined thus far constitutes a significant challenge for my opponent and, unfortunately, leaves him in a bind, though technically of his own making. There are only two routes here, one of which (ends justify means) requires him to grant people the right to commit abominable deeds on the basis of how creative and twisted they are with their reasoning; and the other of which shuts off all avenues of argument. Once he concedes that ends don’t justify the means, he is obligated to ignore the triviality that his little trolly will be late and instead center his attention on the morality itself. You don’t sacrifice your moral integrity for the sake of keeping your work schedule, and you certainly don’t do it because it will slow your vehicle down. Such nonsense would be tantamount to if I decided to ram into passers-by in my car because I thought I was going too fast or something. You wouldn’t condone that, I’m sure, so why do you support it here?

If you’re going to argue why we should permit the needless deaths of 5 people rather than 1, you’re going to need something a bit more substantial and solid than “They’ll keep me from making my quota.”, or “It will reduce the trolley’s trajectory.” Even from a consequentialist standpoint, this logic is extremely tenuous and, frankly, rather unimpressive.

“The 5 people lying on the original track must have had accepted their fate to be crushed by trolley, while the one person, who accepted that he should be able to live longer because the main path is where the trolley should go.”

All it takes for me to refute this subproof is to point out that it assumes conditions that weren’t designated in the initial setup, and therefore isn’t within the parameters of this debate. Maybe the 1 man is ignorant and merely supposed that the track was bound to have a train rumble down it sooner or later. Perhaps the 5 people tripped simultaneously and are all unconscious. Maybe they’ve been coerced, or tied there by some sort of psychotic maniac. We don’t know what kind of influence lies behind the situation they’ve found themselves in. Maybe they’re murderers, or maybe they are the most saintly people to ever grace the earth. We don’t know. We only have access to a few facts, which are that one track will cause one death while another will cause the death of five. Looking at the dilemma through that lens makes it a lot less strenuous, doesn’t it?

Conclusion
In short, either my opponent must make the boldfaced admission that ends justify the means, or else he must ignore the end results of the dichotomy, which would deal irreparable damage to his argument since that’s mostly what they hinge on.

Thank you for your time and patience. I had to think a bit about how I wanted to formulate my argument this time around, as there are so many angles and it can be hard to organize them neatly.

Round 2
Pro
#3
To be Seldiora, would you sacrifice 1 person for 5, or would you sacrifice 5 for 21-31? The latter is about the same ratio as the former, but the latter choice saves many more people, at least 5 times as much.

I have no idea if my opponent prepared his argument before I posted my initial argument, but his argument seems to be ignoring my 1st argument.

If ends justify the means, that necessitates that horrid statements such as “It is ok to murder children if it netts in a positive result.” are vindicated and even viable.

Yes. The reason we don't murder children is that usually, it nets in a negative result. If somehow it results in a positive result, then killing kids is the way. If life itself is somehow harmful to the world's happiness, then genocide is the way. The reason both are seen as immoral and incorrect is that they usually result in negativity, not because of what fixed reason my opponent presented.

I have refuted the bare backbone of my opponent's argument. If sacrificing lives means fulfilling the jobs and saving more lives then it is justified. Within my opponent's logic, a specifically-trained Fighter jet pilot must not fire a single bomb because then it kills, because somehow saving lives is everyone's job. Everyone has different jobs, and I am a trolley operator, not a rescuer.

Now what? My opponent also didn't recognize the point about bumping over people. With the average operating speed of a trolley, which is 20-35 km/h, most people would trip their way to the hospital which they may not even go to without extraneous pain. Bumping over a single person is simply not enough to stop the trolley to an acceptably slow speed, at least not compared to 5 people. No remarks on that so I assume it is being dropped. Picking the path with one person will not only be murder as well, but also disrespect to the people I am supposed to serve. Remember, these lives in the trolley are the job I am to protect and deliver. To disrespect the needs of 20-30 people to respect the 1/5 I am not even supposed to need to protect would mean I am a bad trolley operator. If I am a rescuer volunteered to save people, and the trolley is empty, then of course I will pick the path with one person. This is not the case as people filled the trolley and they are waiting a ride home and if I suddenly made them go miles longer with a noticeable limp(perhaps even a trip to ICU, and yes, they are half-dead) just to serve the people I don't need to serve, then no thank you.

I am not here to make my quota either. Even if I have no salary at all my job is to operate a trolley, not to save random people I may not even see but may help me to deliver the people I am to be responsible of to their preferred destinations instead of earning an extra trip to the hospital.

The 5 people, they are ready for death. The 1 person, nope. The 20-30 on the trolley? Nope, not at all, and it is certainly not my fault these people died, because I am just tryn' to do my damn job. The train operator should not be criticized by driving over 5 dead-unfearing guys laying on the track he is supposed to go, and he should be criticized if he went the longer way, perhaps even missing out stations, just because there are 5 people laying on the ground.

How is a world where people will automatically get a living-on ticket no matter what track one laid on and even changing how the local transportation works in a more ideal world good? 20-30 people walked away with damage, other people waited but the trolley didn't come... At a slightly-worse estimation, the city would be semi-defunct just to serve the interests of less a dozen people. Even if the branch is near enough to return to the station, the trolley would probably be fast enough that no one caring about their body would dare to come up there. A slow trolley is a trolley. A trolley fast enough but cannot stop is equivalent to a false hope of all things.

I will say it again. Saving random people on the tracks is not my job, and driving over them is not my fault. I am just trying to do my job.

If the 5 people tripped unconsciously, they should expect a trolley to drive over them and it is their dumb instinct that is at fault here. If a psychopathic crime committer put these people here, it is him at blame, not me.

Con
#4
Argument 2
Let’s jump straight into things.

As a preliminary note, I would like to make a few things clear. No, I did not prepare my last argument beforehand, nor did I ignore the syllogism my opponent presented. The main premise he’s contending for is founded on the consequentialist ethic (or an assumption of it), and so rather than miring us down with the contingencies and specific assertions he made I decided to attack that instead, since it is the base claim he’s making and, indeed, what his whole argument depends upon to succeed.

would you sacrifice 1 person for 5, or would you sacrifice 5 for 21-31?
This is a classic equivocation fallacy. My opponent is changing the definition of “sacrifice” between each use. In the first case, it means to flatten one person with a train to spare the five, and in the other, it means to flatten five to make sure the passengers meet their job quotas. The difference is so stark that I shouldn’t need to point it out, and so blatant that I’m mildly surprised PRO opted to stake so much on it.

the latter choice saves many more people, at least 5 times as much.
How are you defining “saves” here? If you’re suggesting that the death of one will cause the death of the 30 on the trolly, then you’re going outside of the limits you set at the start of the debate. And if you’re saying that it will cause them inconvenience, then you’re ranking expediency over human life, which is, as I said, the mainline contention of consequentialism. My chief concern is to save lives, not to save time.

Rebuttal and overview
First, my opponent has declared that ends justify the means in order to salvage his argument. His eagerness to do this leaves me to wonder whether he understands the implications. Indeed, he seems to be unaware of the conundrum he has just blundered into, and it shows plain as day.

The reason we don't murder children is that usually, it nets in a negative result. If somehow it results in a positive result, then killing kids is the way.
I surveyed Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar recently, and I think it would be conducive to use it as an example to maybe assist my opponent in understanding my argument. If you aren’t familiar, the gist of it is this: A politician named Julius Caesar had appointed himself dictator for life, making himself the de facto emperor of Rome and effectively stripping the senate of most of its power. A group of Rome’s lesser authority figures sees this as catastrophic, as now Rome will be governed by a centralized power rather than one that is spread out. It would be like if Donald Trump made an unconstitutional declaration that he was scattering the senate and vesting its power in himself. The only real difference is that the people of Rome actually approved of Caesar’s choice, whereas America would be cast into upheaval and chaos if Trump did anything similar.

So this group, which came to be known as the conspirators, decided that the best course of action would be to depose Caesar by assassinating him (against the will of the people, mind you), whereupon they would “restore” the senate and mend the Roman establishment. They used their end goal, to heal Rome, to justify the murder of its leader. They were certain that it would be a net-positive for them - the essence of the “ends justify the means” ethic was in play. They were, however, woefully mistaken. Killing Caesar triggered a series of events that led to a civil war between the conspirators and the Roman people. Tensions heightened, bloodshed ensued, and it didn’t even result in the way they had prophesied. Caesar’s son, Augustus, was quick to seize the mayhem as a political opportunity and basically assumed his Father’s position as Rome’s figurehead - leading the effort against the assassins, stamping out their coup, and appointing himself as Rome’s first emperor. The actions of the conspirators did nothing for the well-being of the Roman hegemony.

Under the moral rubric my opponent professes, the conspirators were perfectly justified in taking those measures. They predicted that Rome was doomed and acted upon that knowledge accordingly. But it didn’t pan out the way they expected. They ended up only exacerbating the problem. In retrospect, Caesar’s death was totally needless and shouldn’t have occurred. But in the moment, and from the perspective of the conspirators, they were right. They couldn’t have foreseen the future in any reliable fashion - they could only engage in vague guesswork based on hypotheticals. That is how “ends-justify-the-means” works. Because we don’t have access to the future, we have to do our best to take a stab at it, and then perform whatever actions follow the conclusion we’ve reached.

The point I’m trying to stress here is that consequentialism is completely subjective. As I said last round, all you have to do to legitimize an action, no matter how repugnant, is assert that it will contribute to the well-being of humanity. Hitler thought that exterminating Jews would be morally righteous in the end, so he carried it out. And the most disturbing part is that you can’t object to him, because he’s using the same standard you are here. You and I cannot prophesy the future. We can only guess at what it holds in store. You don’t know whether killing the Five surpasses killing the one. That’s an unfounded prediction you’re making.

Frankly, it’s staggering to me that someone could so willingly cave to this view - the very same that was employed to justify the actions of Hitler, Mao, Stalin, etc... All these men were obviously atrocious tyrants and yet under the umbrella of “ends justify the means” they were quite the opposite. Each dictator, especially the communist ones, believed they were helping advance humanity towards establishing the utopian dream, and they used that goal to legitimize the methods they used to get there. Slaughtering Jews en masse? Fine. Enslaving your people and impoverishing them for your own gain? Sounds good. Levying psychological warfare against opposing nations and throwing your political rivals into gulags? All right, as long as it helps bring about ultimate good.

This is the problem (or one of them) with the concept of consequentialism: The end goal cannot be accurately predicted. Neither Hitler, Stalin, or any of the other despots in the 20th century could foresee the future, or even guess at it with any hope of success. Therefore, if their calculations showed that their actions would bring about a greater good for the world, then it wouldn’t matter whether it actually did or not.

The reason both are seen as immoral and incorrect is that they usually result in negativity, not because of what fixed reason my opponent presented.
To emphasize the point once more, I’ll ask you a question. If I wanted to kill a baby because I thought he would grow up to be a cruel person, would I be justified in doing so? Sure, slaughtering infants usually results negatively, but who’s to say it will this time? And what if the temporary negative impact this baby’s death will have is better than the overall impact his life would have later? Sure, I’m just making guesses, but again that’s the best I can do. If I kill him, we’ll never know whether he would have become as wicked as I had predicted. But if pass up the opportunity to take action he might end up causing a lot of harm.

The same can be said of genocide or any other action. The circumstances under which one acts are always different, meaning that there is always a chance that taking an action will effect an upright result. It is for that reason that, as a consequentialist, you cannot prohibit something across the board. No two situations are the same, so no uniform condemnation or guidelines can be given. Murder is not always wrong, and neither is genocide, infanticide, or oppression. The question isn’t just “what is most expedient for my goals”, but “what is most likely to be expedient under these circumstances”. Objectivity is discarded in exchange for pure chance - every action you perform becomes a gamble. Will genocide forward your quest for human enlightenment? Cast the die and find out.

To conform to consequentialism is to endorse any action whatsoever, insofar as it is done in a good-faith effort for human advancement and prosperity. It’s not just whether it will result positively because no person can predict that. It’s whether it is sensible in your mind and from your standpoint. If you jump through enough mental hoops you can literally justify anything, crediting yourself when you succeed or else pinning the blame on chance if you don’t.

Bumping over a single person is simply not enough to stop the trolley to an acceptably slow speed, at least not compared to 5 people.
The trolley driver should be able to slow the trolly down with the operations built into the vehicle. If the only way you can slow its pace is by running people over, it’s probably due to your own incompetence, or maybe because the trolley has a faulty layout - in which case you shouldn’t be aboard in the first place.  You have a duty to serve your passengers and deliver them to their destination, but that service shouldn’t come at the expense of innocent bystanders. Again, you’re placing your occupation over the sanctity of life, which is exactly the kind of mentality people like Hitler and Stalin were in when they committed their respective crimes.

The 5 people, they are ready for death. The 1 person, nope. The 20-30 on the trolley? Nope, not at all, and it is certainly not my fault these people died, because I am just tryn' to do my damn job.
Once again you have overstepped the boundaries you enacted for this debate, making claims about hospitalization, and readiness for death, both of which lie outside the scope of our discussion and only serve to sap the dilemma of its ethical imperative.

There's more to say but I'm out of space. TBC.

Round 3
Pro
#5
This is a classic equivocation fallacy. My opponent is changing the definition of “sacrifice” between each use. In the first case, it means to flatten one person with a train to spare the five, and in the other, it means to flatten five to make sure the passengers meet their job quotas. The difference is so stark that I shouldn’t need to point it out, and so blatant that I’m mildly surprised PRO opted to stake so much on it.
Uh, actually more than that now that I can think of it. Imagine this. There are tens or even hundreds of people waiting at trolley stations. Suddenly, the trolley you are waiting for this whole time did not come. If the trolley serves enough people, it would be enough to make an entire district defunct.

A trolley that shouldn't even appear appeared somewhere else, yes. And it is unstoppable because it has defunct brakes. The only way you can slow the trolley down is impact, and in the case of running over people, my opponent didn't even deny it at all. I consider it a dropped point.

There must be somewhere you could take the trolley to repair it. Considering the ratio of the speed, when you drive to the repairing station, the version that drives over 5 would be easier to stopped, hence less destruction. It would be repaired quicker than the one which has only gone through a single person.

So in conclusion, the trolley, going through 5 people, would be quicker at serving an entire district as people who are dependent on a single trolley as transportation can now have their trolley arrive with punctuality, instead of never coming at all because it tried to save a few strangers it might not even notice instead of doing its job correctly. The entire district would be a bit more productive after then because then people would take less time getting to work. CalebEr's proposition is essentially the opposite: Reducing the city's productivity just for the sakes of a few strangers. We are here for the greater good, and the greater good means to drive the correct route with actual people waiting, not altering my entire job just because of unexpected strangers.

I am here to remind that everything has a job. The trolley's job is not saving random strangers. If I drive over these strangers, it is not my fault. It is either their own fault if they tripped and falled because it is meant to be a trolley over here; or it is the fault of some other crime-committer, putting 5 people in danger, waiting for me to drive over it. My responsibility here is just to arrive to the stations on time and to take responsibility of my customers instead of strangers I don't know.

If I am granted a choice to stop the trolley down myself, I would kill none of them. This is not like Stalin in which they are handed a choice to not kill yet they also killed, furthermore that their plan isn't even benevolent while I am here to do the job I am handed, taking the responsibilities I am responsible of, recognizing the beneficial goal that I am given, and making 20-30 people walk with a limp just because of a few strangers is not one of them.

We have agreed on essentially that driving on the route with 5 people is beneficial in every way except for the people on the tracks. I have provided SO MANY things and if you are telling me a few figures are more important than the entire city, then I will state a "Bwoah" and leave, then.

Once again you have overstepped the boundaries you enacted for this debate, making claims about hospitalization, and readiness for death, both of which lie outside the scope of our discussion and only serve to sap the dilemma of its ethical imperative.
Mentioning Stalin and other cases with little to no overlap with my case is WAY MORE out of the boundary than the thing I have given.

More than that, it is not even justified that killing one person who is scared to hell by something he has not expected for 5 people who has accepted their fate good. I have explained it in depth in the first argument, that people accepting death is essentially more okay to kill than people who are not ready(This is a replacement branch in which trolleys don't normally go). Suppose there are 5 people standing on a roof, saying, "You can push me off it." Then there is another one just out here for the open air. After all 5 requested that it is okay to push them off, you drag the one person out here for enjoyment and not suicide off the roof. This is how absurd my opponent's case sounds like. Life is life and all lives matter, but there are more important things than lifes of non-crucial figures, as that the benevolent greater good would be better fulfilled with the loss with some of them.
Con
#6
Alright, I apologize that it took us this long to get to this point, but we have finally reached territory where I feel comfortable that I have explained the essence of my argument enough.

The moral standard my opponent has been employing has been invariably consequentialistic. He has stated that his job is more important than the preservation of innocent life and that he would be willing to sully his own moral standing if he were in the described situation. Let us be clear. As an employer, if I were to learn that one of my workers chose to slaughter five people to save a bit of time when he could have diverted his trolly and just killed one, I would rebuke him severely and quickly terminate his contract with my company, both because of how disgusting and reprehensible such action is, and because I wouldn’t want to come under legal fire from the families of the deceased. In fact, I’d wager that most employers would respond this way, because it’s almost a given that, in a situation above where no facts are available other than the number of people involved, the determining factor should always be how much life will be saved. Once again, we simply do not know what events preceded the incident with the five - they could be laying on the tracks voluntarily, as my opponent has insinuated, or else they could have been coerced into laying there under threat. Same for the one man. Maybe some of them are criminals, maybe they’re completely innocent. It doesn’t matter. In all likelihood, none of them deserve the kind of horrific trolly-death that they will have to receive, criminal or not. So the question is: Are you going to kill five undeserving people, legitimizing that decision with the ends-justify-the-means rationale, or are you going to kill one undeserving person, with your main concern being the sanctity and value of life?

As I said before, if you commit to the former, you must accept everything that it encompasses. When I bring up Hitler and Stalin, I’m not traveling outside of the boundaries you created for our discussion. I’m taking your principles (or lack thereof) and applying them to other circumstances to show how ludicrous and incoherent they are. Your view makes the actions of virtually every moral despot who has ever walked this earth not only just, but commendable and righteous. This is a major factor that you all but dropped. I would have liked to see a more thorough, convincing rebuttal than what you offered, where you basically just laughed it off and waved it away.

Suppose there are 5 people standing on a roof, saying, "You can push me off it."
This has little to no parallel with what we’re discussing. You posed a situation where the trolly driver must be proactive in determining who lives and dies, whereas with this newfound “roof” dilemma there is no such requirement. You aren’t in a moving vehicle this time, you’re standing on top of a building. There is no outside force compelling you to make a decision here, as there was with the trolly case. If the 5 want to jump, they have every prerogative to do so. You aren’t responsible or obligated to push them off.

Further, you have once again implied that the 5 in the trolly case actually desire death and that the 1 doesn’t. This simply isn’t within the scope of our debate, and it baffles me that you keep refusing to drop this argument even after being corrected. The most ironic part, however, is that this point isn’t even a good one - it’s just as inane as all the other things you’ve been spouting. If the five actually want to die, that is indicative of some sort of underlying, insidious physiological condition. No healthy person would ever give their life up so irrationally, even less likely a group of them together. Who in their right mind would concede their life in such a bold and unnecessary fashion, and allow themselves to be mangled by a giant machine? Seriously? It seems to me that if they really yearn for death, especially one that is so terrible, then that is all the more reason to protect them because it means that they probably aren’t acting of their own volition, but out of mental sickness that may very well have a remedy.

As to the issue of using the victims as meatshields to slow the train down, this, as with everything else you’ve said, hinges on the consequentialist ethic, which I have already spent a lot of ink refuting.

To recapitulate, let’s go over a few facts.
• Life has intrinsic value and is not to be treated as disposable or a means to an end. To deny this is to negate your own moral worth, which is not something a mentally stable person could do with any measure of sincerity.
• Consequentialism necessitates that you sponsor all deeds, regardless of moral character, insofar as the actor has sufficient reason in his own mind. Civilization cannot be upheld if governed by such a distorted outlook on the world.
• If my opponent concedes to consequentialism, he must accept all the baggage, stigmas, and conclusions attached to it. This includes endorsement of Hitler, Stalin, Caesar’s murderers, and virtually every other despicable person who has ever lived.
It comes down to this: Do ends justify the means, and are you willing to fully commit yourself to that proposition? To that, I answer no, and I believe I provided ample reason for that contention.

I urge the voters to cast their votes as they see fit.

Thank you to my opponent for the rather civil discussion, as well as to the audience for taking the time to survey it.