Imagine five people are tied to a train track, and a train is hurtling towards them. Next to you, is a lever which if pulled, will divert the train to another track. That track has only one person tied to it. You’ll save the five, but kill the one. Do you pull it?
Now, imagine a different scenario – you’re on a trestle above the track, with the five people facing the same certain death. Next to you, is an obese person, who if you push over the side, will land on the track, and stop the onrushing train – killing him, but saving the five. Do you give him the shove?
What if you didn’t have to physically push him, but could push a button to drop him over the side? How about if you could push the button from another room? How about if you could tell someone else to do it?
Does it matter to you if the people on the track were kids, or old people? How about the fat guy?
These questions are all part of something philosophers call the “trolley problem”. It was designed to help understand the nature, and source of, human morality. Do people of different genders, or cultures answer the same way? How about people of different ages?