To Kill or Let Die

Decent Essays

To kill or to let die – What would you choose? You are standing on a platform at a train station. An out-of-control train carriage is coming down the track past the platform, there are three workers repairing the same track further down the line. They don’t have time to get out of the way of the carriage, the only way to save them would be to push the very large person next to you down the track, the person’s body will act to halt the train thus killing him but saving the three workers. A swift decision has to be made, if I was in this situation I would choose to stand by and watch, letting the three people die, because I believe it’s better to be blamed for indirect killing rather than directly have blood on my hands. I would let nature take its course.

Good arguments exist for both pushing the person onto the tracks and for not pushing them. The argument for not pushing the large person is from the no-harm principle which says that an action is permissible if and only if it does not harm others. Since pushing the person next to me onto the tracks below will kill them, and so harm them, the no-harm principle appears to say that the act of pushing them is not permissible. Since the act is not permissible, I should not therefore push them.
On the other hand, the argument for pushing comes from the minimize-harm principle which says that faced with two courses of action, you should choose that action which minimizes the amount of harm that results. Since pushing the person

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