Every time someone repeats Philippa Foot’s 45-year-old philosophical “classic” starring the fat guy on the bridge, the trolley, and the five people down the track, I — as one who majored in philosophy — am overcome by embarrassment. Pushing fatso off the bridge and having him fall precisely on the tracks so as to stop or derail the trolley is very likely to kill fatso without saving anyone. If the question is posed abstractly: “Would you kill one person in order to save the lives of five people?” then we all would agree in principle to save the greater number. That is, until it is explained that the one is your sister and the five are convicted felons, or that the one is a child and the five are all over 80.
In Response to: Philosophy tests