The Trolley Problem, or Would You Throw the Fat Guy Off the Bridge?: A Philosophical Conundrum

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9780761175131: The Trolley Problem, or Would You Throw the Fat Guy Off the Bridge?: A Philosophical Conundrum
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A trolley is careering out of control. Up ahead are five workers; on a spur to the right stands a lone individual. You, a bystander, happen to be standing next to a switch that could divert the trolley, which would save the five, but sacrifice the one—do you pull it? Or say you’re watching from an overpass. The only way to save the workers is to drop a heavy object in the trolley’s path. And you’re standing next to a really fat man....

This ethical conundrum—based on British philosopher Philippa Foot’s 1967 thought experiment—has inspired decades of lively argument around the world. Now Thomas Cathcart, coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar, brings his sharp intelligence, quirky humor, and gift for popularizing serious ideas to “the trolley problem.” Framing the issue as a possible crime that is to be tried in the Court of Public Opinion, Cathcart explores philosophy and ethics, intuition and logic. Along the way he makes connections to the Utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham, Kant’s limits of reason, St. Thomas Aquinas’s fascinating Principle of Double Effect, and more.

Read with an open mind, this provocative book will challenge your deepest held notions of right and wrong. Would you divert the trolley? Kill one to save five? Would you throw the fat man off the bridge?

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About the Author:

Thomas Cathcart graduated from Harvard with a degree in philosophy, studied theology at the University of Chicago, and embarked on a “checkered career” (his words) from college teaching to hospice management until, at the age of 67, he started his writing life by coauthoring Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar with Daniel Klein. Mr. Cathcart and his wife live in New York City.

Review:

“Jaunty, lucid and concise.”

―Sarah Bakewell, The New York Times Book Review


“Thomas Cathcart's charming approach in The Trolley Problem is to dramatize the dilemma by presenting... a trial in the court of public opinion, complete with arguments from lawyers on both sides as well as a psychologist, a professor, a bishop, listeners to a radio call-in show and so forth...”
The Wall Street Journal

“The extremely engaging philosopher Thomas Cathcart... explores ethical conundrums in a refreshingly innovative and humorous manner.”
The New Idealist

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Book Description Workman Publishing, United States, 2013. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. A runaway trolley is hurtling down the track, brakes gone, aiming directly at five track workers who won't be able to get out of the way. You happen to be standing next to a lever that would reroute the trolley onto a spur where one worker is in the trolley's path. Would you pull the lever and reroute the train so it kills one person instead of five? How about this scenario: same runaway trolley, same five people in its path but this time there's no spur. You're observing the action from a footbridge over the tracks. The only way to stop the tram is to put a heavy weight in its path. A very large man happens to be standing next to you - do you push him onto the track in order to save the five workers? The Trolley Problem is an ethical thought experiment dreamed up in 1967 by British philosopher Philippa Foot, and further developed by American thinker Judith Jarvis Thomson in the '70s (she added the big man on the bridge).Since then, philosophers and thinkers have devised a variety of iterations of the problem, each adding its own twist on the moral dilemma, and The Runaway Trolley explores these through the lens of a trial in the court of public opinion - readers are members of the jury. Cathcart presents two opposing philosophical takes on the problem through the lawyers closing statements, but also offers up several alternative outlooks on related conundrums through a variety of other media - newspaper editorials, blogs, a police report, a debate, and overheard conversations. Seller Inventory # AA99780761175131

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Book Description Workman Publishing, United States, 2013. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. A runaway trolley is hurtling down the track, brakes gone, aiming directly at five track workers who won t be able to get out of the way. You happen to be standing next to a lever that would reroute the trolley onto a spur where one worker is in the trolley s path. Would you pull the lever and reroute the train so it kills one person instead of five? How about this scenario: same runaway trolley, same five people in its path but this time there s no spur. You re observing the action from a footbridge over the tracks. The only way to stop the tram is to put a heavy weight in its path. A very large man happens to be standing next to you - do you push him onto the track in order to save the five workers? The Trolley Problem is an ethical thought experiment dreamed up in 1967 by British philosopher Philippa Foot, and further developed by American thinker Judith Jarvis Thomson in the 70s (she added the big man on the bridge). Since then, philosophers and thinkers have devised a variety of iterations of the problem, each adding its own twist on the moral dilemma, and The Runaway Trolley explores these through the lens of a trial in the court of public opinion - readers are members of the jury. Cathcart presents two opposing philosophical takes on the problem through the lawyers closing statements, but also offers up several alternative outlooks on related conundrums through a variety of other media - newspaper editorials, blogs, a police report, a debate, and overheard conversations. Seller Inventory # AA99780761175131

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Book Description Workman Publishing, United States, 2013. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. A runaway trolley is hurtling down the track, brakes gone, aiming directly at five track workers who won't be able to get out of the way. You happen to be standing next to a lever that would reroute the trolley onto a spur where one worker is in the trolley's path. Would you pull the lever and reroute the train so it kills one person instead of five? How about this scenario: same runaway trolley, same five people in its path but this time there's no spur. You're observing the action from a footbridge over the tracks. The only way to stop the tram is to put a heavy weight in its path. A very large man happens to be standing next to you - do you push him onto the track in order to save the five workers? The Trolley Problem is an ethical thought experiment dreamed up in 1967 by British philosopher Philippa Foot, and further developed by American thinker Judith Jarvis Thomson in the '70s (she added the big man on the bridge).Since then, philosophers and thinkers have devised a variety of iterations of the problem, each adding its own twist on the moral dilemma, and The Runaway Trolley explores these through the lens of a trial in the court of public opinion - readers are members of the jury. Cathcart presents two opposing philosophical takes on the problem through the lawyers closing statements, but also offers up several alternative outlooks on related conundrums through a variety of other media - newspaper editorials, blogs, a police report, a debate, and overheard conversations. Seller Inventory # BTE9780761175131

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