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In the Name of God بسم الله
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jannahismygoal

Push The Fat Man, And Save Five People

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Salaam All,

In an attempt to get some perspective about a certain morality.

I present all you shiachatters with the: Trolley Problem:

It goes like this:

 

There is a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. Unfortunately, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. And save the five people.

 

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Which decision is morally correct, ACCORDING to Islam. And what is your reasoning behind this? Please provide sources.

***Sorry, Ignore the title. I mixed it up with a different but similar scenario
 

Edited by jannahismygoal

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To switch it to the one man and go untie him because no way you can untie 5 ppl fast enough.

or maybe try to pull him off the tracks instead, worse comes to worse, he loses his legs...

 

When given two options you dont like, make a third ;)

Edited by Baji

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What I would do is : Run over the five people, then tell the distraught driver that he must reverse to let the bodies free, reversing back to the junction point. change the leaver, take over the trolly and then run over the single person too. As everyone is in the state of commotion, I blame it all on the driver. Because I happened to SEE the whole thing. ( Thats how politics work. )

Edited by D3v1L

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What I would do is : Run over the five people, then tell the distraught driver that he must reverse to let the bodies free, reversing back to the junction point. change the leaver, take over the trolly and then run over the single person too. As everyone is in the state of commotion, I blame it all on the driver. Because I happened to SEE the whole thing. ( Thats how politics work. )

LOL nice, i didnt expect anyone to outdo my answer :p

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You guys are NOT utilizing the two options provided.

You have ONLY these two options to choose from. Pick ONE, don't invent please lol and use logic to prove it.

Btw the idea is not about untieing anyone. It's about saving one person or five people, by the consequence of either of these two options:

 

1) Do nothing

2) Pull the lever

Re-read the scenario.

Edited by jannahismygoal

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We have similar problem but i think most difficult to answer i.e. eating simalakama fruit.

 

1. If you eat the fruit, your father die.

2. If you do not eat your mother die.

 

Which one you chose ?

It's not that similar. In the scenario you posed the ratio of human life is 1:1.

The one above is 1:5.

Think about it...

I'm curious to see what people would choose. But noone seems to be getting the idea :(

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You guys are NOT utilizing the two options provided.

You have ONLY these two options to choose from. Pick ONE, don't invent please lol and use logic to prove it.

Btw the idea is not about untieing anyone. It's about saving one person or five people, by the consequence of either of these two options:

 

1) Do nothing

2) Pull the lever

Re-read the scenario.

Such a limited option problem will probably only come up in your philosophy class. Islam also looks at one's intentions, and islamically, if you know you can try to pull a person off the tracks but you do not, then that is wrong. Now lets say for whatever reason you are tied to a tree and which is conveniently located next to the lever lol

Its still based on your intention. It doesnt say anywhere in Islam to kill fewer people against their will to save a larger number of people, correct me if I'm wrong. If you have pure good intention, both could be OK and if you have bad intentions, either could be bad.

 

What if that one person is someone you hate a lot and want to see dead? You kill him to save five people but you ONLY really did it to kill a person you dont like. That was wrong of you because of your intentions even though you helped five random people.

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Such a limited option problem will probably only come up in your philosophy class. Islam also looks at one's intentions, and islamically, if you know you can try to pull a person off the tracks but you do not, then that is wrong. Now lets say for whatever reason you are tied to a tree and which is conveniently located next to the lever lol

Its still based on your intention. It doesnt say anywhere in Islam to kill fewer people against their will to save a larger number of people, correct me if I'm wrong. If you have pure good intention, both could be OK and if you have bad intentions, either could be bad.

 

What if that one person is someone you hate a lot and want to see dead? You kill him to save five people but you ONLY really did it to kill a person you dont like. That was wrong of you because of your intentions even though you helped five random people.

 

Like you said the option and scenario is very constricted. So because of this, there is no potential option of "trying" to pull or untie them off the train tracks. This would not logistically make sense either, because the trolley is coming at full speed, by the time you try to untie the five people, not only will you have NOT been successful but you have put your own life at risk. So this is out of the question.

But the question is: What would you do, given that these five people who are, let's say for arguments sake: (super-glued) to the tracks (which means, no there is no way or time to untie them, right?) are on the verge of being killed because you see the trolley going in that direction at full speed. HOWEVER you have another option, as the bystander, you can either pull a lever which will redirect the trolley onto another track and ON that track there is only 1 man tied (or super-glued: again you cannot untie him) which means redirecting would kill this man, and save the five people.

What is the correct option?

Not do anything, and let the trolley kill the five people

Pull the lever, killing the one man and saving five other people

 

well it is too difficult for me, i also cannot answer my question.

no worries :)

Edited by jannahismygoal

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This is a question that has played on my mind recently and so far, I have not found any answer for it:

 

If you have to kill 1 or a few innocent people in order to save millions of lives, and there is no alternative way to save them, are you allowed to do it?


"pulling the lever and diverting the trolley onto ..."; isn't this option very cruel and inhumane?!

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They discuss these sorts of problems in a subject called Normative Ethics. This particular problem is one that can be discussed in terms of maximising ulility, although utility may not be considered the only relevant issue. How do you maximise utility (happiness) in this case? Is it better to save the lives of 5 over 1? What if you knew that one person was a great doctor/scholar who could save the lives of many and that the others were ordinary people or even convicts? Alternatively, what if the individual was a happy person and the others were chronically depressed? Does saving one life in this case preserve the most amount of happiness?

 

In my opinion Islam provides answers to the problems discussed in normative ethics.

Edited by Muhammed Ali

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The biggest challenge in this scenario is not whether 5 are killed or 1, the biggest psychological issue is involving yourself. Once you involve yourself, you have dictated a death of a human (regardless of how many).

 

1. If the person does not do anything, then atleast he can consciously remove the guilt knowing he didn't participate in what happened.

2. If the person does something, then he has to consciously remove the guilt knowing he involved himself and made a good moral decision based on the circumstances he was in.

 

Every person's mentality is different, and there is no right or wrong answer.

 

I'll pull the lever to save the 5, and would remove the guilt (atleast try), knowing it was the best option based upon the circumstances. As a matter of fact, I might feel more guilty not saving the 5 if I didn't do anything.

Edited by Ugly Jinn

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This is a grey area of morality.

I'd leave the lever untouched so as to not be partly responsible for the death of another human being and develop a guilty conscience. If I'm not responsible for tying these individuals to the railway tracks, and have no way of rescuing them, then I'm not responsible over who lives and dies.

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I think most people would pull the lever and save the 5 people.  This would mean that the fat man would die.  (I think I'm one of them).

 

But then present these same people (including myself) with a slightly different scenario, and most of them would let the 5 die.  The different scenario is that a trolley is hurtling towards 5 people as before, but this time the only possible way of saving those five people is to push the fat man over the bridge into the trolley's way.  Given his size he will derail the trolley and the 5 will live, but he will die.  Do you push the fat man?

 

In both cases you are presented with a choice between 5 and 1, yet in one case it seems right to let the one die, but in the other it seems wrong.

 

The difference (I think) is that in the first case, your action is to pull the lever with the intention of saving 5 people.  Killing the fat man is an unintended consequence of this action, and pulling the lever in itself is not a bad action.  But in the second case, your actual action is pushing a man off a bridge and its difficult to see how this is merely an unintended consequence.  This is arguable, and Im not fully decided on the matter.

 

In any case, the difference between the two cases provides a prima facie reason to reject utilitarianism, as on utilitarianism what matters is overall pleasure over pain, and you can achieve maximal pleasure over pain by letting the fat man die in both cases.  On utilitarianism, both cases are pretty much equal from a moral point of view.


In my opinion Islam provides answers to the problems discussed in normative ethics.

 

 

What do you think Islam would say?

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I think most people would pull the lever and save the 5 people.  This would mean that the fat man would die.  (I think I'm one of them).

 

But then present these same people (including myself) with a slightly different scenario, and most of them would let the 5 die.  The different scenario is that a trolley is hurtling towards 5 people as before, but this time the only possible way of saving those five people is to push the fat man over the bridge into the trolley's way.  Given his size he will derail the trolley and the 5 will live, but he will die.  Do you push the fat man?

 

In both cases you are presented with a choice between 5 and 1, yet in one case it seems right to let the one die, but in the other it seems wrong.

 

The difference (I think) is that in the first case, your action is to pull the lever with the intention of saving 5 people.  Killing the fat man is an unintended consequence of this action, and pulling the lever in itself is not a bad action.  But in the second case, your actual action is pushing a man off a bridge and its difficult to see how this is merely an unintended consequence.  This is arguable, and Im not fully decided on the matter.

 

In any case, the difference between the two cases provides a prima facie reason to reject utilitarianism, as on utilitarianism what matters is overall pleasure over pain, and you can achieve maximal pleasure over pain by letting the fat man die in both cases.  On utilitarianism, both cases are pretty much equal from a moral point of view.

 

What do you think Islam would say?

 

Ahsant! Yes, that was the other case I was thinking of when I wrote down the title.

 

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The ops have a strict criterion. But there is a hole in the question, i.e. who is someone asked ?

 

I my self with my ability now cannot answer and maybe helping the 5.

 

The hole, i.e. who is someone asked the question doesnot have any restriction. So if someone is Superman, he will just stop the train/trolley with his finger and saving everybody's life. :D

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I think pulling the lever to save the five would be making a choice to kill the one.

How?

It wouldn't be a primary intent or instinct to do that. Unless you are so extremely evil psychotic person. Because, imagine all this happening within minutes, you happen to pass by and you know the lever will divert the trolley. You KNOW this is it's function. You can either pull it, to divert it which in turn saves those five people and as a consequence kills the one. OR you can just pass by and keep walking. 

You do not intend harm to the one person. It's only a consequence of the intention to help the five people.

 

 

Not unless you pause, and think for some minutes and strategically plot against him. Meaning you have the desire to kill him and find this the perfect chance of doing so.

 

Edited by jannahismygoal

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I don't know.

 

I think in the heat of the action, most people would do nothing. (This is just a guess on my part, and I am not saying this is definitely the truth)

 

Not because people are heartless, but because in the heat of the moment, you can't have the pragmatic mind to say "it's better that one person perishes than five." Ultimately, if someone pulls the lever, I don't think he will remember his action as saving five lives but rather as making the decision to sacrifice one. The decision to sacrifice a life -- even if it is to save others, is a very serious one. And one needs to be very desensitized to blood to be able to make such a decision.

 

Maybe someone who was raised amidst war and violence would be better suited to make such a decision. But most people with a sheltered or secure upbringing would have problems facing it.

 

To answer the question: I don't know what I would do. It's kind of a bizarre, crazy, and terrifying scenario. I have never experienced anything resembling it. So I cannot say how I would act.

 

As for which action is the morally correct one, I don't know about that one either. Often times, you can develop a bunch of rational reasons why a certain (pragmatic) action is morally correct, but this action often conflicts with a person's heart. I feel that ethics/morals is more from the heart than from the mind. But maybe that's a baseless belief, I don't know.

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When does something like this ever happen?

 

It doesn't. It's just a hypothetical scenario to illustrate an ethical point.

 

Meaning, it's a near impossible scenario, but the ethical principle is something that comes up often in real life: is it acceptable to sacrifice one life or a small number of lives, to save a greater number of lives?

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attachicon.giftrolley problem.jpg

Which decision is morally correct, ACCORDING to Islam. And what is your reasoning behind this? Please provide sources.

 

 

I don't know what Islam would require us to do.

 

But what I would do is as follows :-

 

If the one person was related to me or somebody I liked and the five were not related to me or I did not like them, I would save the ONE person.

 

Otherwise I would save the FIVE people.

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It doesn't. It's just a hypothetical scenario to illustrate an ethical point.

 

Meaning, it's a near impossible scenario, but the ethical principle is something that comes up often in real life: is it acceptable to sacrifice one life or a small number of lives, to save a greater number of lives?

 

It doesn't come up, but the principle comes up in real life? That's what I'm asking, when does this actually happen?

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It doesn't come up, but the principle comes up in real life? That's what I'm asking, when does this actually happen?

Diverting a river to irrigate crops upstream, causing famine downstream.

Taking wealth from one person to give to another.

Selection of a job applicant.

There are hundreds of scenarios in which one person is harmed to help another, though not necessarily involving death.

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I don't know.

 

I think in the heat of the action, most people would do nothing. (This is just a guess on my part, and I am not saying this is definitely the truth)

 

Not because people are heartless, but because in the heat of the moment, you can't have the pragmatic mind to say "it's better that one person perishes than five." Ultimately, if someone pulls the lever, I don't think he will remember his action as saving five lives but rather as making the decision to sacrifice one. The decision to sacrifice a life -- even if it is to save others, is a very serious one. And one needs to be very desensitized to blood to be able to make such a decision.

 

Maybe someone who was raised amidst war and violence would be better suited to make such a decision. But most people with a sheltered or secure upbringing would have problems facing it.

 

To answer the question: I don't know what I would do. It's kind of a bizarre, crazy, and terrifying scenario. I have never experienced anything resembling it. So I cannot say how I would act.

 

As for which action is the morally correct one, I don't know about that one either. Often times, you can develop a bunch of rational reasons why a certain (pragmatic) action is morally correct, but this action often conflicts with a person's heart. I feel that ethics/morals is more from the heart than from the mind. But maybe that's a baseless belief, I don't know.

Yes, it is very possible that someone would not do anything. It's not an easy decision to take. However being extremely hypothetical and having to answer the question is what it's trying to get at.

If someone chose to not do anything, in a case where there was an option of doing something: pulling the lever, then doesn't that mean: doing nothing is in fact doing something. You are allowing harm to occur. In a case where you could have prevented it.

I think the decision does involve a greater level of reason then heart based decision. But it's very difficult, because the same reason you apply to a neutral case, can be completely negated in a situation where a variable is changed. Making one of the five, a family member. Or the one, a family member.

But, I think there is an answer to this in Islam. And, I don't know what it is. But I speculate it has something to do with the greater favor to society rather than an individualistic approach.

I don't know at all though.

 

When does something like this ever happen?

It's just hypothetical.

But it can happen war zone areas, perhaps. Where, perhaps one kid is being held hostage (and this one kid is yours) while 5 others are being held hostage. And you have the ability to save one and escape. Who do you choose? What is morally correct, according to Islam?

^ lol that's not a very plausible case. But... it's what I could come up with, in an extremely exceptional case.

Edited by jannahismygoal

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The question may be similar to :

 

Can we sacrifice one person by killing him/her intenstionally to save millions human ?

 

For example :

 

1. Killing warmonger (for example Israel PM) in the world today to avoid WWIII which will kill million human.

 

2. Killing Imam Husayn as to let human learn what is the meaning of justice and truth so the potential unjustice killing can be avoided.

 

3. Killing Ismail as to let human learn what is the obedience to Allah as mean, so millions human can be saved from ashtray.

 

4. Killing Habil to let human learn how to bury dead body.

 

etc

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Perhaps we cannot say that either of decisions is morally or Islamically correct. Both decisions lead to death and both are cruel from some perspectives. The correct decision (which is absent here) is to save the all. But we are not able to do it. So we have to choose the option which is less deadly and has fewer victims. We have to choose between what is "bad" and what is "worse".

 

 

This scenario is not quite unlikely to happen. It has happened in different forms. For example, when a person tortures his victim's family members in order to compel him to name his friends, ... . The victim has to either save his family by putting his friends at risk or vice versa.

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The right choice in the case of torture is to either convincingly lie as taqiyyah, or to simply not give anything up. "God does not impose on any soul a responsibility beyond its ability. Every soul receives whatever it gains and is liable for whatever it does." (2:286)

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