Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?

Updated: Sep 4, 2019


I am a student of the course Justice offered by Harvard University. This program is being taught by Michael Sandel. This is an introduction to moral and political philosophy, offering an opportunity to discuss contemporary dilemmas and controversies. In the next few posts, I will do my best to share you this course. Today, I would like to share a piece of it. This is the discussion about "What's the Right Thing to Do?"


Here's a scenario that Professor Michael Sandel shared to introduce this topic:

(this is an audio description) "This is a course about Justice and we begin with a story. Suppose you're the driver of a trolley car. Your trolley car is hurdling down the track at sixty miles an hour. At the end of the track you notice five workers working, on the track. You tried to stop but you can't. Your brakes don't work. You feel desperate because you know that if you crash into these five workers they will all die, let's assume you know that for sure. So you feel helpless until you notice that there is off to the right side track. At the end of that track there's one worker working on track. You're steering wheel works so you can turn the trolley car if you want too, to this side track killing the one; but sparing the five. Here's our first question: what's the right thing to do?"

There are several arguments about this topic:


1. Turn right. Even though it will kill the one, it would be a better choice because less death is better. One life is easier to cope up with than five. The likelihood of survival of that one is higher as well. But since you had a choice, would it be murder to kill the one?


2. Another argument is to stay on track. This can be a traumatic event for you. In the actual event, this will cause you a shock and wont have time to make decisions.


3. There are also arguments in spiritual perspective that a prayer will do the job so we do not know what will happen. There are many more facets of ideas open up as the class argues.

In your opinion what is the right thing to do? Please leave your answers at the comment section below.


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