more from Philippa Foot

Single Idea 4694

[catalogued under 24. Applied Ethics / A. Decision Conflicts / 5. Omissions]

Full Idea

If a runaway tram is heading towards a track on which five people are standing, and there is someone who can switch the points, diverting it onto a track where there is one person,...this is diverting a fatal sequence, not starting a new one.

Gist of Idea

Making a runaway tram kill one person instead of five is diverting a fatal sequence, not initiating one


Philippa Foot (Killing and Letting Die [1985], p.85)

Book Reference

Foot,Philippa: 'Moral Dilemmas' [OUP 2002], p.85

A Reaction

Suppose the one person was of immense community value, or someone you personally hated? Clearly she is interested in the agent's virtue, rather than the actual consequences.