Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
Eric Schwitzgebel, Professor of Philosophy at University of California at Riverside, writes a blog called The Splintered Mind. His latest post is about how people do moral reasoning and how that reasoning is affected by seemingly irrelevant things. His findings, even among professional Philosophers, may suprise you....
People's responses to hypothetical moral scenarios can vary substantially depending on the order in which those scenarios are presented (e.g., Lombrozo 2009). Consider the well-known "Switch" and "Push" versions of The Trolley Problem. In the Switch version, an out-of-control boxcar is headed toward five people whom it will kill if nothing is done. You're standing by a railroad switch, and you can divert the boxcar onto a side-track, saving the five people. However, there's one person on the side-track, who would then be killed. Many respondents will say that there's nothing morally wrong with flipping the switch, killing the one to save the five. Some will even say that you're morally obliged to flip the switch. In the Push version, instead of being able to save the five by flipping a switch, you can do so by pushing a heavy man into the path of the boxcar, killing him but saving the five as his weight slows the boxcar. Despite the surface similarity to the Switch case, most people think it's not okay to push the man.
Here's the order effect: If you present the Push case first, people are much less likely to say it's okay to flip the switch when you then later present the Switch case than if you present the Switch case first.
To see how Philosophers fare, please continue reading the entire thing here:
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