Contextual Morality, Moral Absolutism And Ethical Dilemma: An Analysis Of The Trolley Problem. Why Reverse Trolley Problem Equally Warrants A Discussion?

Trolleys, the shopping carts in the Super Markets the modern equivalent of Donkeys sharply bring into focus the rampant consumerism in our Society. More the Consumerism More the number of trolleys in supermarkets. It’s commonsense and not rocket science as simple as that. Strangely Big Rail Trolleys in motion have inspired Philosophers to come out with theories concerning Ethics, Morality and Choice. Can you believe that? Yes it True the Trolley Problem is one of the highly debated and written about problem in the world of Philosophy. So much has been debated about this in the blogosphere I just could not convince myself to be an also ran in the ever continuing analysis of the Trolley Problem until I noticed how philosophers so blinded by the implication of the Trolley Problem never really cared about the Reverse Trolley Problem which is a figment of my reasoning and imagination.

We have to thank a man named Phillips Foot to have introduced the so called Trolley Problem which brings into Focus ethical dilemma in a decision making process and in turn questions the contextual morality in the decision making process opening a Pandora’s box of analysis , interpretation, discussion and paralysis. So what Is that arouses so much discussion about the Trolley Problem. The Trolley Problem postulates a Hypothetical scenario and evaluates our response to the scenario.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. However, 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. Which is the correct choice? – Wikipedia.

Now all the hell breaks loose here. Most of us faced with the choice of lesser of the two evils or for the cause of the greater good with no option of stopping the trolley would divert the trolley on to the side track making peace with our decision to kill one person to save the life of five others. The ethical dilemma we face here challenges the notion of moral absolutism where it’s never acceptable to kill someone but contextually is morally acceptable to save five other lives. Here lies the crux of the philosophical debate about contextual and absolute morality. Discussion aside the same contextual morality has been at the root of the conviction of all the warmongers from the ages who all viewed collateral damage as a part of the justification of their greater cause. The more I thought about the trolley problem I was surprised how in our society we are confronted with a reverse trolley problem. Our Society has evolved such a way that we put at a premium the value of a few lives in exchange for a multitude of other lives. Our history has been littered with the lost lives of soldiers and common man in the shared ideals of the defense of the Powerful almost contrary to the premise of the trolley problem which questions why it’s acceptable to kill one person to save five others. I was a bit surprised that no one is the realm of philosophy did not raise the reverse trolley problem. I will be happy to know if someone already did.

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RS is a deep thinker. His hobby is to analyze and reanalyze. Out of a passion to analyze he started this blog

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