The Trolly Problem

The Trolly Problem

If you don’t know what the trolly problem is, you may be wondering “why is there a problem with a trolly?” or  “what even is a trolly?” For starters, a trolly is the British definition for train. (see picture below)

That brings us to the next question, “Why is there a problem with a trolly?” And to answer that, there is no problem with a trolly itself. The Trolly Problem is a popular question about morals. What are morals? Morals, or ethics, are when you personally stand by what you believe is right or wrong. Everyone’s morals are different. There are some that most of us can agree on matters such as the fact that we shouldn’t rob a bank, or that breaking the law is bad. There are also some notably controversial morals like cheating on a test is good. 

Okay, with that out of the way, what even is the Trolly Problem? As mentioned previously, it is a moral dilemma. Imagine you were the conductor of a moving trolly, and you come to a fork in the track where you have two options. Stay on the track that you are currently directed on, and run over two people, or pull a lever that changes the track and run over five. At first glance, the answer is obvious, almost everyone would say to stay on the current track and hit two people over hitting five. It just makes sense. Now, what if we changed it? What if on the first track there are two of your closest family members, and on the other track, is a doctor, your best friend, the person with the cure to cancer, your favorite actor, and a single mother of three? Not so easy now, is it? There is no real answer to this question because it is a question of ethics. Most of the time in ethics, there is no real right or wrong answer. This is one of those questions. Everyone you ask will have a different opinion. Here’s another one: would you rather run over Spongebob and Voldemort, or Freddy Kruger, Thanos, Micheal Myers, Scar, and Mega Mind? Essentially, this is the Trolly Problem.

There are also different situations that follow the general idea of the Trolly Problem. For example, if you were a doctor, would you murder your best friend to save 5 dying patients who all needed organ transplants from your best friend, or would you kill the 5 patients and let your best friend live? If no, would your answer still be the same if you then had to tell those 5 dead patients’ families that you wouldn’t save them? How about if your patients were prettier by society’s standards, and your victim was unattractive by the same standards? What if it were the other way around? Or even if your patients or the victim were ethnically different than you? Might any of this change your opinions at all? What kind of person does that make you

So where do you stand? If you were in these situations, what would you do? If you are interested in this, you may also be interested in  the Good Place, season 2, Episode 5, The Trolly Problem, which discusses this issue further. (view discretion advised) You can find this on Netflix if you are interested.  If you have the time, please answer these questions!