[Buddha-l] Ethical Dilemmas

Bankei bankei at gmail.com
Thu Jun 10 00:50:11 MDT 2010

Imagine you are walking along a rail line and you see a train coming down
the track out of control. There are 5 people on the track, they are unable
to move out of the way in time and you are unable to warn them in time. They
will all die if the train can't be stopped.

You look around in an attempt to stop the train. There is nothing you can
do, but there is a switch next to where you are walking which you could
pull. This would divert the train onto another track, saving the 5 people.
But at the last minute you see there is a man on the other truck and he
would be unable to be warned in time. Therefore he would die if the switch
was pulled.

What would you do?
A. Do nothing
B. Flick the switch, killing one, but saving 5.

A Utilitarian would flick the switch as this would produce the greatest
good. What would a Buddhist do, or better what would the Buddha have done?


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