The paper “ What Is the Right Thing to Do? " is a breathtaking example of an essay on ethics. There is an ethical and moral choice to be made in turning off the road and hitting one person in order to save five that are in the direct path of the trolley that has lost its brakes. If I had been the trolley driver I would have diverted the trolley into the turning where only one person was. This is for the greater good, as I would be able to save five lives at the cost of one life.
Not turning so as to save the one life that was out of the direct course of the trolley presents an ethical dilemma and is distasteful but a choice that must be made nonetheless. Saving the lives of five people as opposed to one life is utilitarian as actions are right when they benefit a greater majority (Britanica, 2015). Many people may not agree with my decision but that is okay by me as I made the choice to save many lives at the expense of one.
Knowledge, truth, and morality all exist in relation to cultural norms and ethics, which make it possible for others outside my situation to hold differing beliefs about what would have been the most moral or ethical action for me. I believe in the sanctity of life and that it is the duty of every human being to respect and preserve it. My role in the whole situation though was a forced one, and that meant that I would have to make a decision under pressure and for the betterment of others and myself.
I could of course try and commit suicide by trying to veer off the two paths and in effect not putting any other person in harm's way. This would be the most moral and upright thing to do, as it would mean that I would avoid putting other people's lives at risk though it would be suicide. Standing on the bridgeIt would be totally unethical to throw the fat man who is as equally a spectator as myself down the bridge in order to save the six lives on the road.
The most ethical and morally upright thing to do is to jump down me but that would be sure suicide and undesirable and not right (Mill, 2012). Consequentialism would dictate that the greater good would come from saving the greater number of people at the cost of one life off the bridge. This is because it would produce greater happiness by saving more lives while causing less pain. It would totally go against the moral character to sacrifice the life of an innocent bystander and that without their consent if I threw the fat man off the bridge to stop the trolley.
The fat man off the bridge may appeal more to philosophers like Jeremy Bentham who would reason that it served the greater good and created more happiness through saving more lives. However, in the case between the Queen versus Dudley and Stephens, the defendants were held guilty of murdering a young boy even though they argued that they did it out of necessity. Dudley and Stephens argued that it would benefit more people for the orphan boy to die, as no one would miss him while they had many family members who would be caused a lot of grief if they died ( Queens Bench Division, 1884).
The boy was also thought of as being dispensable since he had already drunk some seawater and would have probably died eventually. This was hypothesizing on their part just as much as hypothesizing that throwing the fat man off the bridge will stop the trolley, as he may not end up obstructing it. The sailors Dudley and Stephens, in the same way, had no way of knowing when a passing ship might rescue them and therefore taking it upon them to kill the boy was immoral.