What choice does Buddhist ethics recommend when faced with the moral dilemmas present in the trolley problem? The problem has quite a few variants, here are the most important ones:
you are the driver of a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks toward five workmen who cannot get out of the way. To prevent their deaths, your only option is to divert the trolley onto a side track, but diverting would kill one worker on the side track.
Do you divert the trolley or not?
you are a surgeon, and five of your patients will soon die unless they receive organ transplants. The only way to save the five is to fatally harvest the organs from a sixth, healthy patient, who is unwilling to donate any organs
Do you kill the sixth patient or not?
As before, a trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by putting something very heavy in front of it. As it happens, a very fat man is right next to you. The only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five. Should you proceed?
The further development of this example involves the case, where the fat man is, in fact, the villain who put these five people in peril.
Do you kill the villain to save five lives or not?
- The trolley is running down the tracks towards five workmen, as in the first scenario. You can divert the trolley to a side track, but diverting would kill your mother, who is on the track. Do you divert the trolley or not?