Diagnostic Test

1.  A runaway trolley is about to run over five people walking on the tracks.  A railroad worker is standing next to a switch that can turn the trolley onto a slide track, where one person is walking along the track.  The railroad worker's switching the track to avoid killing five persons but killing one person is morally (a) obligatory, (b) permitted, or (c) forbidden.  Your answer: _____________

2.  You pass a small child drowning in a shallow pond, and you are the only one around.  If you pick up the child, she will survive and your pants will be ruined.  Picking up the child is morally (a) obligatory, (b) permitted, or (c) forbidden.  Your answer: _____________

3.  Five people have just been rushed to a hospital in critical care, each one requiring an organ to survive.  There is not enough time to request organs from outside the hospital.  There is, however, a healthy person in the hospital's waiting room.  If the surgeon takes this person's organs, the person will die, but the five in critical care will survive.  Taking the healthy person's organs is morally (a) obligatory, (b) permitted, or (c) forbidden.  Your answer: _____________


from Singer and Hauser, "Morality Without Religion."  Free Inquiry, Vol. 26, No. 1, p. 19



Reinhold Schlieper
January 3, 2005