To Kill Or Let Die Essay

1303 words - 6 pages

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. Both options seem morally wrong then again we only have two choices and in this case I would rather standby than push the large person.

Good arguments exist for both pushing the person onto the tracks and ...view middle of the document...

In the analysis of the two choices, according to the no harm principle, choice 1 is to push, if we look at the argument that if and only if no harm results than pushing him causes harm, the conclusion there is that pushing is not permissible, in option 2; not pushing, same argument however this time not pushing will cause no harm therefore not pushing is permissible. What we can see however is that the argument is unsound because it’s not true that not pushing will not cause harm. The argument for not pushing the large person is then inappropriate. In our case, if we do not push the large person, the three workers will die as a result, we cannot say that no harm results from not pushing the large person.

P1) Faced with two courses of action, choose one which minimizes harm.
P2) Pushing the large person is less harm than letting three people die.
P3) Therefore the large person should be pushed.

The argument for pushing; the minimize-harm principle is inappropriate in this case. Does pushing really in fact minimize harm? The fat man who’s supposed to be pushed in order to save the lives of the workers, might later in some way be the source/reason for saving more lives. Furthermore, to decide to take one person’s life in order to save more would be placing a value on the people themselves. The integrity of the argument is therefore threatened, making it unsound. From the analysis it can be seen that both arguments are not appropriate to base a conclusion on. Other reasons are required to justify my decision.

Faced with this sudden moral dilemma, I am forced to make a choice: standby and do nothing or push the person next to me. One factor could be the ease of my action or inaction; it takes less effort for me not do anything than to push. This might be a reason for not pushing; however it certainly cannot be the only reason. Bearing in mind my intention when pushing the person I intended to kill, whereas if I do not push, I have foreseen the death of the three workers however I did not intend to kill. In other words, consequences have no moral value; it is the intention of the action where the morality lies. Based on all this I can say that killing is worse than letting die.

Another basis and a possible refutation to the minimize harm principle could be that everyone has the right to self determination, it’s wrong to push an innocent man down the track; that should be his own decision to make not mine therefore I shouldn’t push him. But then, the three workers also have a right to life, I believe...

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