Following our link to Dandelion Sleeves post ‘Reinterpreting the Trolley Problem’, Andrew Bell has written this thought provoking response:
Revisiting the trolley problem: a cautionary note.
The self evident truth of the value of the preservation of life is rightly stated to be the best steer through the ‘Trolley Problem’.
But when we came to the gatekeeper, the only person who has actual control of the lever, Kerry simply tells us that their primary concern and only impetus for action, is to the preservation and continuation of the runaway train. But I wonder whether this is true?
Are there not two actors involved with the operation of the lever at this point: the railway company, represented here by the gatekeeper, and a human being, faced with a moral dilemma?
The Railway Company can’t make the decision because the situation has progressed way beyond the running of a railway and the preservation of its assets.
It is a human being, albeit disguised as a gatekeeper, who is faced with this dilemma, not the Company. The polarity has shifted from the material to the higher moral and ethical realm, which is the only place it can be resolved. With this shift, the Company has to move backstage. We are no longer in Kansas any more, as they used to say.
All this is underpinned by an important principle. It has long been understood that governments and institutions, including railway companies, must always trust individuals in their roles, respect their rights and their value, and allow them to stand or fall by their own merits and their own decisions. That is how people can live happily together in communities and prosper.
That is why even the gatekeeper is faced with a moral decision and is gifted with the freedom to make it, for better or for worse.