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  • 2 months later...

Some of the talks on the following site are good listening as well:



I especially recommend Stephen Pinker's lectures.

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  • 1 month later...

Michael Sandel’s teaches course at Harvard University called “Justice”.


It is viewed as one of the best introductions to the ethics and morality of this complex subject.


And you can view it as well! Clicky


Michael Sandel also recently gave the Reith Lectures.


He's a provocative thinker - and provokes thought.


Also check out The New York Times review.

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Just to provoke a debate here's his first example - you are a driver of a train and the breaks fail making it rush past a stop signal - its flying down the track towards 5 workmen, but just before them there is a set of signals you can operate which will take the train down a branch line. There is one workman working on the branch line.


Do you do nothing - and so 5 people will be killed, or do you pull the leaver and send the train down the branch line killing one person?


Another situation.


You are walking on a bridge and you see an empty runaway train heading down the track towards five workmen. Sitting on the bridge is a really really fat guy - if he was on the track the train would be derailed, saving the workmen - do you push the fat guy off the bridge?


Is the moral difference between these two scenarios - is there a difference between pushing the fat guy off the bridge and pulling the leaver to send the train into the path of the single workman - in both cases saving the lives of the 5 workmen?

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i will have a go at that one, this is just what i think i would do.


as the train driver i would see the situation differently, it would not be a case of do something or do nothing, but that of making a chioice, left or right so to speak. by being aware of the option of sending the train downa different track i would comsider either action my responsabilty and would not see it as a case of inactivity vs taking action and costing someone thier life. as a result of this i would send the train down the alternate track killing the one man.


however in the second scenario i would most likely not push the fat man in the way, and would be more likely to run along the platform waving my hands and shouting in a vain attempt to warn the workmen. I couldnt honestly see the idea of sacrificing the fat man even occuring to me in such a situation.


the above ignores the implausable nature of the scenario, and i have just tried to answer honestly the question that lies beneath.


hope this doesnt make me out to be a sociopath or something.

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  • 9 years later...

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