should you kill the fat man

Philosophers often use thought experiments. Thought experiments are devices of our imagination to investigate things. They have been used in the natural sciences as well as in philosophy. A great website for thought experiments is philosophyexperiments.com (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. In ethics thought experiments are often used to illicit our considered judgments about imagined moral dilemmas. In this way we can test our moral theories by considering what they tell us to do in various moral situations. An example of an ethical thought experiment can be found in the “Philosophy Lab” box in your text on p. 158.

  • Familiarize yourself with the practice of using thought experiments.
  • Evaluate utilitarianism using the Trolley Problem thought experiment.

Assignment Instructions

For this week try the experiment “Should you Kill the Fat Man?”Links to an external site. on the philosophy experiments website. Let us know whether the experiment said your view was consistent and your thoughts about the moral dilemma it presents. It is also fair game to criticize the conclusions the website draws about your views.

For your initial post write at least three paragraphs due Wednesday. Comment on two of your classmates posts by Sunday.

Write at least three paragraphs about your results and your reactions to the thought experiment. Include the following:

Explain briefly to your reader what the thought experiment is. (This will help you have a conversation with others that don’t know what it is.)

Why do you think it is right or wrong to flip the switch to save 5 people?

Why do you think it is right or wrong to push the man off the bridge to save 5 people?

Define Utilitarianism. Are you a Utilitarian?

What were your results? Are you consistent or inconsistent in your ethical intuitions?

Remember to write in formal style and check your grammar. Paragraphs are 3-6 sentences long. Aim at writing SUFFICIENTLY. Never assume that your reader knows the concepts or thought experiments– explain it.