What Is And Isn 't Owned. Thomson And The Trolley Problem

973 Words Sep 28th, 2014 4 Pages
What is and isn’t owned
Thomson and the Trolley Problem
Most people think that killing is worse than letting die. The latter is a fact. Throughout her essay, Thomson explores this idea and comes to the surprising conclusion that it is sometimes permissible to kill instead of letting die. This along with the famous Trolley Problem, first introduced by Philippa Foot, as well as a few other examples and variations, leave the reader with ambiguity on the subject: exactly under which circumstances is it permissible to kill rather than to let die? In short, we can manipulate things around us –things that are unowned, but we cannot manipulate people for we do not own them (Thomson, p.14)
The first idea that Thomson tries to convey is through the Trolley Problem and a variation that she proposes. In the original problem, the driver of the trolley faces a conflict between two negative duties: killing one person to the left or killing five to the right. By Foot’s thesis, the driver must choose to cause the least amount of harm possible and turn the trolley to the left. Following this explanation, Thomson presents us a variation of the problem, where the driver of the trolley has unfortunately died from a shock, and it is now a passenger that has to decide whether to turn it or not (Thomson, p.5). Contrarily to the original problem, she argues that the passenger is now facing a conflict between the negative duty to kill the person to the left and the positive duty to save the people to…

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