Would you kill one person to save 5 others? Does religion evade morality by omission and how can you tweak people’s motivations? We’ll be stripping down, breaking hot neuroscience research at the Federation of European Neurosciences 2014 Forum including finding out how moral values are contagious.
The usual idea is that you have the choice of switching the points on a railway to send a train/tram down a path to kill one person instead of to kill five people on the route it's currently set to take. The correct answer depends on a lot of different factors. If you know that the five people are neonazis and the one person is a harmless nun, you do not switch the points. If you know that the the points are never normally switched because the line the one person is on is not supposed to be in use, you should maybe not switch the points either, because the five people on the line are likely idiots, and particularly if they aren't looking about to see if they're in danger, while the one person may be working on the line and thinks he should be safe. If you have no knowledge of the above kind, you may feel that it is fair to switch the points and that the one person is more likely to be able to get out of the way in time than the five, some of which may be unsighted by others in front of them. I think I would leave the points alone though even in the absense of such specific knowledge, because the five people should certainly not be there whereas the one person maybe should.
I was surprised to hear Ray Dolan say that the majority of people would not pull the lever - and leave five people to die. This doesn't seem to tie in with experiments - certainly in this case (http://www.cdnresearch.net/pubs/Navarrete_Emotion_InPress.pdf) around 90% DID pull the lever. derek_mcc, Tue, 15th Jul 2014
What's interesting to is that in experiments where this question is posed, the results change if there is personal interaction - if, instead of anonymously pulling a lever, you had to physically push that one person to their death, with their awareness that you are doing it. Then, for some reason, a lot of people who say they would kill one to save five, switch their answer. cheryl j, Wed, 16th Jul 2014
Anyone else seen "Wind Talkers"? As I recall, a soldier was charged to personally defend his buddy (the guy who spoke Navajo) but kill him if there was a chance they would be captured.