Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.

Moral Dilemmas with Dogs

Posted by Michael Dickens on November 25, 2011

You are standing on a bridge overlooking a track where five dogs are sitting. Suddenly, you see a trolley coming down the track. The dogs are not paying attention, and if the trolley hits them, they will surely all die. You start to panic, but then you see that next to you is a very fat dog. You could push the dog off the bridge, killing him and stopping the trolley. Should you do it?

You are a private veterinarian who takes care of stray dogs. You currently have five dogs who all need a different organ to survive, and you have no doggy organ donors. You are about to give up hope when a healthy dog walks in for a doggy check-up. You could kill him, harvest his organs and give them to the other five dogs. Should you do it?

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4 Responses to “Moral Dilemmas with Dogs”

  1. Taylor said

    Sounds an awful lot like the challenges to Utilitarianism. The Lone Stranger Dilemma and whatnot. My suggestion is thus:

    Push the dog off the bridge.
    Do not kill the dog, and use your best efforts to save as many of the dogs as possible.

  2. lrflew said

    I like questions like this because it’s a perfect example of my theory that there is no perfect solution and the only way no dog would die is for the dogs to never have existed. Chew on that one 😛

  3. phynnboi said

    No and no. The moral decisions here, as in the human variants of these questions, are the fat dog’s and the healthy dog’s–namely, whether or not to sacrifice themselves. I would be very wary of any code of ethics that lets me rationalize making someone else’s ethical decisions for them.

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