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Would You Kill the Fat Man?: The Trolley Problem and What Your Answer Tells Us about Right and Wrong (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 20. September 2013

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14 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Must read for anyone interested in moral philosophy 9. November 2013
Von John Martin - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Would you Kill the Fat Man? by David Edmonds is a must read for anyone interested in moral philosophy or just what is the right thing to do. The title is based on a famous hypothetical situation in moral philosophy. There are various versions but the main one is as follows: 1. You are standing beside a trolley track. An out of controll trolley is speeding down the track. At the other end are five people who are tied to the track and will be killed by the oncoming trolley. But beside you there is a switch that will put the trolley onto a spur. At the end of this spur is one person tied to the track who will die. Do you switch the trolley onto the spur? 2. Now you are on a footbridge under which there is a trolley track. Again you see a trolley hurtling down the track toward five people tied to the track who will be killed. But alongside of you is a fat man who if you push him over will land on the track and stop the trolley. Of course he will be killed, but the five other people will survive. Do you push him over?

These two situations correspond to basic moral positions in philosophy. The first is utilitaritarianism as proposed by John Stuart Mill. Someone espousing this approach looks at the consequences of an act before deciding what to do and acts to maximize happiness or minimize pain. Such a person would not hesitate to throw the switch or push the fat man over since killing one person is less painful than killing five. The second approach is deontology which says that acts are right or wrong in and of themselves regardless of the consequences. The most noted person for this approach is Immanuel Kant and his formulation of the Categorical Imperative. Advocates of this approach would not push the fat man over because killing someone is wrong regardless of the consequences.

Edrmonds trances the history of the trolley problem from its inception by Philippa Foot through its various adaptations over the years. Along the way we are introduced to such ideas as the Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE ) which says that intent and foreseeability need to be taken into account in judging morality. For example it is still moral to commit an act that kills someone as long as you did not intend to kill the person even if you can foresee that happening. A number of other interesting hypothetical situations are presented. For example suppose you are a transplant surgeon. You have five patients waiting for a transplant, 2 for lungs, 2 for kidneys and 1 for a heart. A healthy young man comes into your office. Do you kill him and use his organs to save the five others? Most people would be horrified by such an act. Yet Utilitarianism says you should do it.

Edmonds writes in an interesting style and the book is both informative and fun to read. More importantly it will change the way you think and quite possibly make you a better person.
10 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
"Reason often takes a back seat to unconscious influences." 19. Dezember 2013
Von E. Bukowsky - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
David Edmonds demonstrates that philosophical discussions can be fun and entertaining in his provocative new book, "Would You Kill the Fat Man?" Edmonds presents a number of thought experiments that pique our interest, stimulate our curiosity, and "test our moral intuitions." Although some of Edmonds' scenarios may seem far-fetched, they motivate us to ponder complex ethical issues. The author includes intriguing anecdotes about Winston Churchill, Grover Cleveland, and Harry Truman, all of whom had to make controversial decisions. In addition, Edmonds provides fascinating background information about Thomas Aquinas, Immanuel Kant, Ludwig Wittgenstein, John Stuart Mill, and Jeremy Bentham, as well as such lesser known philosphers as Philippa Foot (Grover Cleveland's granddaughter) and Elizabeth Anscombe.

One of Edmonds' central themes is "trolleyology." Is it justifiable to steer a train, tram, or trolley away from five people who are tied to a track when, as a result, a sixth person tied up on a side track will likely perish as a result of our actions? Is it acceptable to bring about the death of one man in order to save five innocent lives? Another scenario involves pushing a large man off a footbridge to block a runaway train that is hurtling towards five people tied to a track. There are other variations, some of which are complicated (the author includes illustrations to help us visualize them). The trolley question and its variants have spawned "a mini-academic industry" and continues to spark heated debate to this day.

"Would You Kill the Fat Man?" is a pleasure to read. Edmonds never talks down to us, nor he is ponderous or pretentious. He explains and illustrates technical terms such as the "Doctrine of Double Effect" clearly and concisely. In addition, he broadens the scope of his discussion by bringing in science, law, evolutionary biology, linguistics, medicine, psychology, and sociology in his effort to explain why we act as we do. Are we hard-wired to make specific moral distinctions? Does a person's geographical and/or cultural background influence his behavior?

Although "Would You Kill the Fat Man?" does not supply conclusive answers, Edmonds is not merely amusing us with diverting mental exercises. On the contrary, his book has practical implications: Consider soldiers who attack a military installation, knowing that they might kill civilians in the process; agencies whose officials invade people's privacy, hoping to discover and foil terrorist plots; and law enforcement officials who deceive and/or torture suspects to make them reveal vital information. Every day, in both dramatic and mundane situations, each of us must make moral and ethical judgments. When, if ever, is it justifiable to lie and/or withhold information? If we do something that is intended to help many people but might possibly hurt a few, should we proceed with a clear conscience?

The bottom line may be that there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution. Even if we convince ourselves that it is okay to push the fat man off the footbridge, for some, no rationalization could possibly eliminate the guilt that might ensue. We are not robots. We think, cry, laugh, have memories, and in most cases, feel empathy for others. "Would You Kill the Fat Man?" is a lively and elegantly written work of non-fiction. Edmonds does us a service by encouraging us to reflect on Kant's statement: "Persons must never be treated merely as a means to some other end."
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Interesting discussion but a bit all over the place 17. Juni 2014
Von PAmato - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
Having never heard of the Trolley Problem before and with no Philosophy- I thought this would be a good introduction to both. In general it was a satisfying read. However, by inserting the extended bios of the various participants in the debate right into the main text it gave the book a disjointed quality. The discussions of the many iterations of the Trolley Problem and the philosophical theories applied to it over time were fascinating and illuminating. Unfortunately without all the bios this might have been more of an extended paper rather than a book.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Entertaining and enlightning 26. Mai 2014
Von Leon Lerborg - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
This book is about ethical dilemmas, especially trolleyology. It is very informative, entertaining and easily comprehensible - also if you're not a philosopher (I suppose). I highly recommend it. Sometimes it gets a bit too biographical, and I don't agree on the systematic negative attitude towards utilitarianism - but all in all it's an easy introduction to trolleyology.
3 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Too much Information 28. Dezember 2013
Von John Andrews - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
I think that P. Foot's original question is answered ( as much as it can be) in the "Trolley Problem" . This extended discussion would probably be enjoyed more by students interested philosophy or maybe even law. The nice thing is that both books offer an endless source of discussion of moral and ethics. maybe a 41/2 stars.
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