Instigator / Pro
7
1695
rating
76
debates
74.34%
won
Topic

On balance, Not switching the trolley track is more beneficial in the Trolley Problem.

Status
Finished

All stages have been completed. The voting points distribution and the result are presented below.

Arguments points
3
0
Sources points
2
2
Spelling and grammar points
1
1
Conduct points
1
0

With 1 vote and 4 points ahead, the winner is ...

Intelligence_06
Parameters
More details
Publication date
Last update date
Category
Philosophy
Time for argument
One week
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
Two weeks
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
20,000
Contender / Con
3
1526
rating
28
debates
57.14%
won
Description
~ 1,386 / 5,000

This is the description I am referring to.

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. Your job is to deliver the trolley(and the people inside it to the station which is on the usual route. The trolley, for some reason, is unstoppable, 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. They all do not want to be in this situation. 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
Argument 1: Does “Life” itself objectively worth anything here?
 
I understand that this position is very controversial to hold and may even result in excessive criticism, but I truly believe in it. Life itself has no value. We have value not because we are living, but because we created value. When we destroy value more than we create, the life that does so would be considered negative. Jesus has a positive value because he brought happiness to people in and beyond Israel, and Adolf Hitler is considered of negative value because he has brought misery to millions of people, which is the opposite of happiness.
 
We are tricked the illusion that something holds intrinsic value or an existing action always result in positivity, due to the fact that when said thing exists or said action is done, it usually results in net positivity, and counterexamples to them can be considered negligible.
 
And yes, genocide is justified if it brings positive value. The only thing preventing it from being accepted as good is because its negative value trumps the positive value it brings. All the negative things in this world are due to that: because it hinders the ability of people being happy.
 
However, we should not automatically assign positive value to life and negative value to death, even if we do subconsciously due to the outside world. The death penalty of child rapists would net in positivity since it ensures that no more children can be harmed by said group of people. Of course, I am not automatically assigning positive value to death either, since the passing away of a great leader would, go without saying, be of negative value.
 
More than that, killing someone who is suicidal is just fulfilling one’s wish, and fulfilling one’s wish, if done optimally without any “buts” would automatically result in positivity, since this is how life works and you should know that if you have lived. In other words, killing someone who is BEGGING to die(and doing nothing else other than it) would result in positive value since one’s wish is granted with no Cons(other than denting the knife or using an ammo). The reason killing suicidal people is still viewed as unethical in this world is probably along the lines of that murder is usually seen as wrong or that suicidal person still has sparks in life. But what if that person is truly hopeless? The death ends his eternal suffering of living and being bound to this world.
 
Especially since you(consciousness) appear to “elevate” when you die, thus being released from the confinements of this dimension[1],and no, after death, it appears that you don’t feel pain[2]. Some of us assign negative value to death because they fear that all love that has been accumulated by them in this material dimension will be taken away once they die. However, when one’s life means nothing but suffering to them at this point, death has a positive value to them.
 
Now, looking back at the trolley problem. All 6 of the fellows are tied to the ground. Frankly, they have no hope because they have no way of getting up. What is happening with their mind? Exactly, suffering. They would wish that all of this would end, and if there is nobody here to untie the ropes or whatever, just die already.
 
That is reasonable, because if a trolley just soars past them after anticipating death, they would still not escape their suffering mindset: Because they wouldn’t bet on someone freeing them at this moment, especially(I specified that this is in fact a track used by the trolley service) since another trolley can just come and smash them to death. They wouldn’t feel happy even if they survive because then they are still tied to the track waiting to die, or at least that is what they would probably believe. In the end, it is best to end them of this unending cycle of suffering, crushing them to death.
 
And I decide to free as many of them as possible, which is crushing 5 people, not to mention the benefits that would bring that I have mentioned in the other debate that I had.
 
I understand that I may not fear death and I would just accept it if I am tied to the tracks. But look at the statistics: Most people in this world fear death[3]. In this scenario all 6 people are constantly reminded of their doom at all moments if they are “most” people, so it is more likely than not that the net suffering of the 6 people would be less if I crush the 5 people instead of the 1. And even if they are prepared for their doom like I would in a scenario like this, it would still be best to crush them because they got exactly what they are asking for: death. If you are looking at counterexamples, just ask the conspiracists who thought the world ends in 2012, stuffed themselves with food then had to live with a deformed body afterwards because the world didn’t die. If they are suicidal or have a weird fetish of some sorts, it goes without saying what the best option for them is.
 
As to the people related to them. Do you expect that your parents would live and come to your home if you are told that they are tied to a train track? No! You would panic when you get the notice, even before they die. The parents and the related people would be forced to be ready for messages about death anyways. With no foreseeable future of their precious little human being alive(they are tied to a track, they can’t escape), it is rather the best of them if the tied-to-track-ers just die instead of keeping their relatives in constant worry. Either way, crushing people on the trolley track in this scenario would net in positivity for them and their relatives, etc. So I choose the better option: Crushing as many of them as I can: 5.
 
Argument 2: I have a job
 
My job is to drive the trolley and ensure that the people driving the trolley arrive safely by the stations in the supposed path(with 5 people tied on it). My job, at this moment, is not to be a rescuer. It is not my problem that they died. It is the problem of the person who tied these people to the tracks that is at fault.
 
Not to mention that there are people on board my trolley. They are whom I am literally trusted with, and it is my objective at this moment(seeing that this is my job) to ensure that they are safe and arrives to the end. Driving around the 5 and on the 1 would be protecting the people that are in constant suffering and hindering the people that I am trusted with. Doing so will result in the riders to be late for work/home or even go missing seeing that even I don’t know where it may go, and there will be a trolley late/missing as a result, resulting in that I lose credit and even the trolley company lose credit. All that just to save 5 people who would long for death for the moment being!
 
It is not my job to save people outside my service coverage and it is not my job to save people that is in constant suffering and is in a mental state quite similar to the average suicidal person. It IS my job, however, to send people on the trolley who voluntarily got onto this ride to the place they asked for, because this is my job: it is how I will be paid for, it is how society will judge me for what I do and how I will earn and lose credit based on what I do. It is my role. No, changing jobs in a situation like this is a bad idea, especially when I would make 5 people suffer even more for they are still tied with a viable future of another trolley stepping on them, making the exact same thought process as I do.
 
The trolley cannot be stopped. What does that mean? In order for the people that I am paid and expected to protect to arrive safely at the place they pay me and expect me to go, the trolley must somehow find a way to stop, because otherwise the trolley would just soar past the stations without stopping.
 
Argument 3: Physics, Stopping, and Repair
 
Physics tells us, though, that when you drive over something that isn’t flat, it will slow you down. Since this problem is even a problem in the first place, we would assume that the trolley can just drive over the 5 people and still have velocity in the end. However, since 5 people is a bigger cluster of speed bumps than 1, the trolley will thus move at a slower pace if driven over 5 people. Since falling off of a moving object is not a good idea for the person(unless they want to die) as it would arguably damage their legs and even make them unable to walk, getting off of the trolley when it is slower is definitely better for the people I am trusted with. People may not even trust themselves when the trolley is going very fast(only driving over 1 person) thus making the problem maybe unsolvable: Maybe the people wouldn’t even get off, even if the branch merges with the original path that I am supposed to take. This is on top of that the people on the trolley may not even get off in the correct places ever, even if they have the guts to get off of a speedy trolley.
 
We are assuming a friction-less track because the description says that the trolley cannot just stop on its own. However, as long as the people don’t just melt onto the tracks, they slow the trolley down making the passengers take less damage if they go off.
 
It is assumed that a trolley repair station exists, in the extension of the tracks, as this is necessary for a working system of transit. I could drive the trolley to the repair station either way, and the passengers can get off there being intact. So we have two choices for both paths, but because the one driving over the 5 is slower, it thus results in positive net safety relatively, which is a good thing. In the end, driving over the 5 really is better for the people in the trolley. It not only provides them with better safety, but better convenience as they still have the chance of getting off at the place they paid me to go, with only minor damage, less than if I drive over the 1 and make the trolley go further away.
 
Conclusion
On balance, Driving over the 5 is, on balance, more beneficial for:
l The people on the tracks and even the people related to them
l The people on the trolley
l Me and the trolley company(the trolley won’t go missing)
 
Sources
[1]https://www.guideposts.org/inspiration/life-after-death/near-death-experiences-proof-of-life-after-death
[2]https://wilsonsfuneraladvice.com/can-dead-bodies-feel-pain/
[3]https://www.verywellmind.com/scared-to-death-of-death-1132501
Con
Premise
This debate is centered around the famous thought experiment most commonly known as the Trolley Problem. Pro has explained what the Trolley Problem is in the description, so I will not repeat it here.
Definitions:
Trolley: A tram (in North America streetcar or trolley) is a railcar that runs on tramway track on public urban streets. [1]

Arguments:
1. There is positive value in minimizing suffering.
Pro basically agrees to this. While Pro contends that life itself has no intrinsic value, he also asserts that fulfilling a person's values does matter.
killing someone who is BEGGING to die(and doing nothing else other than it) would result in positive value since one’s wish is granted with no Cons(other than denting the knife or using an ammo).
I am a full proponent of personal autonomy, including letting people die if they wish to die, and even having medical professionals help them if they so wish. But it must follow that if someone wishes to live that I should assign an equal positive value to them living.

2. Most people don't want to die.
Pro asserts that the victims of the trolley problem, as they lay tied to the tracks, would want to die.
All 6 of the fellows are tied to the ground. Frankly, they have no hope because they have no way of getting up. What is happening with their mind? Exactly, suffering. They would wish that all of this would end, and if there is nobody here to untie the ropes or whatever, just die already.
 
That is reasonable, because if a trolley just soars past them after anticipating death, they would still not escape their suffering mindset: Because they wouldn’t bet on someone freeing them at this moment, especially(I specified that this is in fact a track used by the trolley service) since another trolley can just come and smash them to death. They wouldn’t feel happy even if they survive because then they are still tied to the track waiting to die, or at least that is what they would probably believe. In the end, it is best to end them of this unending cycle of suffering, crushing them to death.
I disagree with this premise. There have been 2 occasions in my life where I felt almost certain that I was going to die. One of those was as a very young child, and although I was actually in no danger, it left a lasting impression and I remember it vividly. The second was more recent and due to a health crisis. In both cases I wanted to escape the situation, and in the latter, the physical pain was so unbearable I had to be given pain-killers, but I never wished I would die. In fact, the relief I felt when those experiences were over were euphoric, where death would only bring the end to sensation.
It is an extremely strong biological instinct to want to stay alive, and while cases of severe depression or chronic pain can cause a person to prefer death, it is overwhelmingly the case that most humans would prefer to stay alive at any given moment. 
Although Pro states that anyone tied to the tracks in this way would want to die, I believe that I and many other people in this position would still want to live.

2.1 Assumptions in the face of uncertainty.
Although I say I wouldn't want to die, I have never been placed in this exact situation, and many people think differently than me on many subjects; death could easily be another. I as the trolley driver have no way of knowing what the people tied to the tracks are thinking. If any wish to still live, than running them over is just as much a tragedy as sparing someone who wants to die, save for one key difference. If any individual on the tracks wished to live and was killed, it is impossible to remedy the situation. By contrast, if one wishes to die and is spared, they can choose to self-euthanize afterwards.
 
In conclusion, to avoid risk of violating personal autonomy and values, one should endeavor to kill the fewest possible number of people by throwing the switch.
2.2 Addendum
Pro states
And I decide to free as many of them as possible, which is crushing 5 people, not to mention the benefits that would bring that I have mentioned in the other debate that I had. 
(Emphasis added by me)
Any points you made in a previous debate must be made again in full to count towards this debate. Voters are not obligated to read outside material in order to make a decision, and the DArt Voting Policy states
Any awarded point(s) must be based on the content presented inside the debate rounds. Content from the comment section, other votes, forums, your personal experience, etcetera, is ineligible for point allotments.
You are welcome to add these arguments in the next round, but I will not be addressing anything that isn't brought up within this debate.
3 "I have a job"
My job is to drive the trolley and ensure that the people driving the trolley arrive safely by the stations in the supposed path(with 5 people tied on it). My job, at this moment, is not to be a rescuer. It is not my problem that they died. It is the problem of the person who tied these people to the tracks that is at fault.
Pro makes no distinction in this case between legal and moral obligation. While a trolley operator has no legal obligation to pull the switch, [2] (The general consensus online is that there would be no legal repercussions for failing to pull the lever. I only accept this stack exchange article as good evidence because I was unable to find any sort of real legal precedent in any country for this sort of circumstance. There are some countries that implement a "failure to act" law, but such cases become a lot more fuzzy when loss of life is guaranteed either way), I would argue that the moral thing to do would be to minimize suffering as I argued above, by killing only one person.

4. Physics

The most egregious problem with this part of Pro's argument is this:

We are assuming a friction-less track because the description says that the trolley cannot just stop on its own.
This is in contradiction to what he said before. The description states that 

The trolley, for some reason, is unstoppable
This differs from the above sentence where it states that the trolley cannot stop on its own. There is a large difference between total brake failure and a literal unstoppable force. Since Pro says 
using any other stories that contradicts my tale will be against the rules and any points based on said other stories will be nullified.
he is in violation of his own rules and his entire physics argument in null and void. In his original wording, which we both agreed to not modify as a condition for the debate, the trolley "for some reason, is unstoppable." Since no speed was specified in the description of the debate, I will set up a few possible scenarios.
1. The trolley is moving too quickly to disembark safely. In this case, the 20-30 passengers of the trolley are doomed to either jump out and risk serious injury or even death, or to remain on the trolley indefinitely until the heat death of the universe. The description explicitly says that the trolley is unstoppable, so even hitting the end of a track or a brick wall will, by definition, not stop it. The 20-30 passengers' fates are already set and the track you choose will affect nothing, so to minimize suffering and the potential violation of autonomy, you should pull the switch and kill only one person.
2. The trolley is moving slowly enough to disembark safely. In this case, it is your lawful and contractual duty as the trolley driver to help your passengers disembark to the best of your ability. None of them are in any significant danger. Once again, since the trolley is unstoppable no matter which track you choose, you should minimize suffering by pulling the lever and killing only one person
3. The trolley is moving so slow that you can outrun it. In this case you can run ahead and attempt to free the people ahead of you on the track. Since it should take less time to untie one person from the tracks than five, you should pull the lever and immediately run ahead in an attempt to minimize suffering by saving all six individuals from death, starting with the one in immediate danger. Although abandonment of your post as the trolley operator is likely a violation of your contract with your employer, you will be viewed as a hero by the news and are unlikely to lose your job over it.

Round 2
Pro
2.1 Death is still a way of reducing suffering, especially in this situation

My opponent concedes that: The thought of death brings suffering to most people(although, he uses himself as the main reasoning, so we still don't exactly know if people would want to live at situations like this in general)

The problem ensures that everybody is tied to the track & there are trolleys driving on the path: The 6 are constantly reminded of their doom because they are tied down. It is not like they are instantly freed after the trolley soars past them: It is common sense that trolleys don't automatically untie ropes, and it doesn't contradict my tale.

In the end, when trolley passes by them, they still suffer. Despite of that, there is nothing being brought up that suggests people feel pain AFTER death, which means that by driving over them, you are actually reducing net suffering.

We have every reason to believe that if my opponent was tied onto the track, his consciousness would most likely want to live in a situation like this. However, it doesn't justify the irrational fear of death(I will get to later) and how "living" in this situation would be desirable. In short, maybe they don't want to die, but even then, death would probably be the way to go in a situation like this, on balance.

Living

You still get tied to a track. On a track that actively serves driving trolleys. There is always the chance where another trolley rides over you and you die. Even if you have the full belief that the next trolley driver will just save you, the fact you are still tied on a rope would make you suffer, because The lack of physical freedom is proven to be net negative for a person[1].

This is still not like the incident for my opponent, where a doctor is still to be trusted. In this case, Con would still have something to live for, and there is a belief that they will live till the end, where they can go out safe and healthy. This makes perfect sense why Con would not want to die in this moment: Because by not dying, they will achieve a desirable condition(to be safe and healthy).

This is not the case with the trolley problem, however, and the fact Con would not want to die in a given threatening situation would not mean that at the same time, death is undesirable in the trolley problem, for the individual.

What if they die?

Con brings zero evidence that after death, suffering occurs, and the truth is that in a short period of suffering, your nervous system doesn't respond anymore[2], making it so that you, as a consciousness, suffer less.

Keep in mind, there is absolutely no proof that there exists a hell, except by historical articles that would inflict hard time on if it is just some nightmare or fabricated text from the churches. So we have zero proof that we suffer after death. If anything, the fact that you are not tied to a track anymore would bring you something other than sadness and anger.

If they die, the answer is simple: They don't suffer anymore(Either because there is no consciousness or because you are risen above your corpse, making you more free). No matter what, there is no need to fear death in such a situation.

There is no rational reason why anybody would think they would survive to the very end and gain physical freedom: You have to survive at least one trolley that could easily crush you, and you have to wait long enough for someone skilled enough to untie you from the tracks. There is nothing they could trust that makes them fear less, but there are many things that contribute to the uncertainty that will contribute to what they are afraid of. Imagine this: What if when you are in hospital, but the doctors aren't doctors and have zero experience, and you don't get handed sedatives when there is an operation. That is a more accurate depiction of this dilemma compared to Con's only given justification of "death is suffering": Having trusted medical staff that will ensure health upon leaving the hospital.

Live = Continue suffering.
Death = One spike of suffering, and nothing after that.

I fully acknowledge that most people probably don't want to die, that is one reason of constant suffering on the tracks. However, I do not acknowledge the fearing of death as rational, because in the end, you don't suffer anymore after death and there has been zero counters of this as of yet.
[3]

2.1.1 Uncertainty

Well, I have just proven that the fear of death is irrational and just living will get you still bound by ropes, which is not what would bring anyone happiness. Dying literally reduces their suffering. If this argument is true, then there should not be laws regarding vaccinations or medicine, because a person is free to suffer all they want. They can obviously wish whatever they want, but this dilemma is an example where what you wish won't lead you to a desirable situation, and your wish may be like the irrational wish of not get vaccinated.

2.2 Physics and Scenarios

1. The trolley is moving too quickly to disembark safely.
There is surprisingly little defense on why death is undesirable to these people, with only a conclusion of people don't want to die via the source of the experience of a single person, so even if no passengers can disembark safely, crushing 5 people would effectively reduce suffering.

2. The trolley is moving slowly enough to disembark safely.
Running over 5 is slower than running over 1 and slower = safer so it leads to safer choices. There has been zero response of that. Other than that, still the same as the one above.

3. The trolley is moving so slow that you can outrun it.
We still have the case where the trolley moves so slow that one can free all 5 before freeing the 6th one. The trolley needs to be in a zone in which it is faster than a certain speed that I can't save all of them but slower than human speed, which is not likely. On balance, it is still better to crush 5 people considering that this is unlikely. I want Con to prove how likely this scenario is.

Plus, the fact that they are there waiting, tied to a track, is already constant suffering, so I am justified to speed the trolley up to crush them to death as I don't know if I will even be fast enough to outrun the trolley, let alone being able to untie anyone from the track.

Conclusions
  • It is still better to crush 5 people to death than to keep them waiting and Con's example is not fit for this dilemma.
  • The fear of death is not rational, especially in a situation where living means keep suffering.
  • If the trolley is faster than humans, it is still not better to just crush one person considering you can't just free anybody
  • In fact, I don't know if I am able to untie the knots(and since frictionless tracks & repair stations are against the rules by Con, then the ability of untying the knot quick enough is also one).
  • In the end, It is still better to crush 5 people because it still reduces suffering.

Con
Forfeited
Round 3
Pro
Dropped Arguments:
  • Con's example of a threatening situation is not similar to this situation enough to be comparable:
    • Con's example calls for a situation where there IS something to live for and there is someone/something that Con could trust to live(and it is a controllable situation) whereas the Trolley Problem calls for a situation where the people wouldn't have anything to trust, especially in such an unpredictable and uncontrollable scenario.
    • Con's example calls for a situation where surviving would lead to a desirable result(exiting the hospital healthy and safe whereas the Trolley Problem calls for a situation whereas surviving would not lead to a desirable result(physical imprisonment + fear of death = pain)
      • When you die, you feel no pain anymore
      • Since we should decrease suffering and maximize happiness
      • And in the trolley problem, merely by living, suffering exists for these people
      • We should end their suffering by driving over them
    • Death = less suffering = good
    • We should minimize suffering by driving over 5 people by not switching the tracks
  • I cannot add purpose to anything in this debate due to the description rendering any argument about a situation with modded objects would be immediately nullified. However, mentioning about that an object CANNOT do something, except outside of its expected purposes and properties, would not modify anything at all and should not be considered a violation
    • Thus, a trolley operator having the ability to untie all kinds of knots(enough to untie people from the tracks without saying what kind of knot is present) would be against the rules because there is no obligation of a trolley driver being able to untie knots; However, saying that trolleys do not truly untie people would not violate the rules since in real life, trolleys do not untie people, and the inverse is against the rules and false if placed in real life.
    • Since being alive in this situation = suffering, and I do not know if I really know how to untie those people from the ground, so on balance, those people, even if the trolley didn't drive on them, they would still suffer and I would still be a bystander
  • Driving over 5 people, even though it wouldn't fully stop them, would still make the trolley slower which makes it safer to stop.
In the end, Con did not topple over any of my arguments, because his justification of "death bad" is just 1 subjective example not comparable to the one here. I have proven that the choice of minimizing suffering is to drive over the 5 people and there has been no valid objection yet.

Non-Argument: Con shall not make new arguments in the 3rd round

I am not making an argument regarding this topic, but debating in general. Making new arguments in the last round of ANY debate is frowned upon because it gives an unfair advantage to that person, and it makes the other person unable to respond to it. Any new arguments made by Con in R3 should be nullified as I obviously have zero way of responding to it in the debating section. This is common sense to some of you but to relatively-new voters, this is exactly why.

Con has forfeited R2. I have not missed any single round yet. With me being able to withstand the arguments made in R1 and Con not being able to impact my points in R3, I request the voters to vote Pro.
Con
Forfeited