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An out of control train is about to run over a pile of happy puppies, do you…

Topic #92:

An out of control train is about to run over a pile of happy puppies. You are standing at the control switch and can pull the level to direct the train onto a different track, saving their lives. But that other track has a smaller pile of equally happy puppies on it.

What do you do and why?

Note: no actual puppies, happy or sad, were harmed in the making of this topic

Topic inspired byย Peter Singer

 

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  1. I’ll go and get my net that i use to catch butterflies, make the handle longer and scoop the puppies before the train reaches them. i always loved pets that have the cuteness syndrome

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  2. I do not like this subject at all..whoever thought of such an awful thing? It is not really likely to happen. What I would be more concerned with was which nasty person put the puppies on the line in the first place?
    If this was the situation I would stand on the line and try to wave the train down. I would take off my red knickers and wave like mad. Then the train would stop and all the puppies would be saved.
    Please don’t do this to me again… I am not happy

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  3. What??!!!???! Puppies being run over by a train? What’s the matter with you? Is this your way of dragging me into the blog-a-day? Almost worked..

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  4. How about we all try to come up with positive solutions โ™ฅ

    Would love to read happy solutions for happy puppies for an initially unpleasant situation that could turn out to have a good twist for a story ๐Ÿ™‚ Just a suggestion.

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  5. I might have a go at this just because I like a challenge but honestly two piles of puppies it’s like trying to decide which child to save in a fire. Decisions I hope I am never confronted with.

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  6. A few years back I went through a “deceased parents poetry” writing period. Coping with grief.
    My daughter wrote from college…” Dear Ma, Please write poems about kittens and puppies. But not kittens and puppies that get run over.”

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  7. I took a serious shot at the question. Recently an email list I am on debated the question of rating depravity. I found that helpful in answering this question. Now Pourquois, did a bit of that, but I did it another way. Moreover, I think into day’s world where more than puppies are on some people’s train tracks, we need to think about rating evil.

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  8. I love this idea! I like Singer’s work and have had to consider this one before, but there are people who think you’re sick and thought it up yourself. Might want to point that out a bit more if you’re planning any more thought experiments. One of the best – Douglas Adam’s ‘The pig that wants to be eaten’

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  9. Interesting isn’t it, the human psyche.
    A ‘power to save’ dilemma: do you actively choose one railway line-condemning one but saving the other; do you let fate follow its course arguing that one piles ‘number was up anyway’; do you refuse to interact at all claiming you weren’t culpable for the initial runaway train; do you ‘save’ the bigger pile for the greater good and console yourself that you saved as many as you could; do you want to know if one pile are ‘better’ than the other pile; do you pull the lever half-way in the hope the train derails at the point the track splits and if so, have you just condemned the passengers on the train?! Phew – lots of interesting lines of thought with these railway lines!
    Interesting too, imho, that if it was a choice between a larger or smaller pile of *insert less emotive animal* – will a termite nest do – would there have been indifference and a more straightforward choice? Has, ultimately, the thought of condemning happy puppies been too much? Does that already say a lot about us humans and the bonds we create? I really wish I knew – I’m sure there’s a buck in it – but I go back to my first sentence: interesting isn’t it, the human psyche.

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  10. Tried to share DarkStarBurning on facebooks and it was blocked as offensive or spam. Where is America’s sense of humor? Sorry DarkStarBuring, even if I am a warm fuzzy seeking, I liked your post and got one of my daily laughs for your list of bloggers.

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  11. great topic – a staple of ethics courses for some time now. Usually it is formulated in terms of 5 people on one track and 1 person on another, and funnily that provokes far less emotion than when it is about puppies.

    And you can go into all sorts of refinements – would your decision change if the 5 people are there by accident (stranded in a car with the doors locked) and the 1 person is there by choice. What if the ‘by choice’ means he cannot get off the track because he had a skiing accident and can’t walk, and what if it is because he is obese to the point of not being able to walk (no disease in this particular case, just the result of over-eating), etc., etc.

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  12. I am huge dog lover, right now m babysitting a 2months old adorable little puppy, so i would pull that lever without a second thought ๐Ÿ™‚

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  13. I get the feeling someone doesn’t like happy puppies! I’d take the secret 3rd option of using my magic puppy powers to turn the train into a mobile puppy grooming train that rolls to a gentle stop. At that point a troop of specially trained puppy panderers usher the puppy posse on board where every puppy is treated to a day of puppy orientated pampering before being re-homed with a wonderful family where it lives the rest of its life in happiness. Cue Disney fireworks and cheesy music!

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