In “5 Thought Experiments That Will Melt Your Brain,” Evan Dashevsky says that because “some science is too big, dangerous, or weird to happen in the lab,” thought experiments “may be the most valuable experiments of all.” But notice that all five of his examples are from philosophers.
Emma Green’s “The Cold Logic of Drunk People.” What happens when you ask inebriated persons about the runaway trolley?
According to Nigel Warburton, although it won’t deter kidnappers to pay a ransom, rational calculations fall by the wayside when people you love are involved.
Is trolleyology a joke? No, seriously, is it a joke? That people chuckle when asked if they would push the fat man on the trolley tracks could mean the entire thought experiment isn’t of much use. “A trolley is careening toward an unsuspecting group of workers. You have the power to derail the trolley onto a track with just one worker. Do you do it? It might not matter.”
Moral judgments depend on whether we are speaking a foreign language. “… when people are presented with the trolley problem in a foreign language, they are more willing to sacrifice one person to save five than when they are presented with the dilemma in their native tongue.”
More on robot ethics. Should your robot car be programmed to sacrifice your life to save two other lives?
Lawmakers blame philosophy for recent spate of trolley deaths. Humor! And yet maybe we should think about the propriety of flippantly talking about flipping the switch in life-and-death cases.
The dangers of thought experiments in ethics. “Thus there are the two dangers of ethical thought experiments: First, they cannot be used as conclusive disproofs. … Second, they might seem convincing and clear even though they are not.”
Clang Went the Trolley. Sarah Bakewell’s interesting review of two new books about the trolley problem: David Edmonds’ Would You Kill the Fat Man? The Trolley Problem and What Your Answer Tells Us About Right and Wrong and Thomas Cathcart’s The Trolley Problem; or, Would You Throw the Fat Guy off the Bridge? A Philosophical Conundrum. Bakewell’s conclusion: moral philosophers need not worry about being out of a job.