You’ll need Real Player to be able to listen to it.
Spoilers below(continue reading and you will not be able to participate in the thought experiments the show provides without the taint of my evil mind If you care, I suggest you click the link above, listen to the show, then come back and read my thoughts.)
Scroll down to read my thoughts.
My moral code suggests that the right answers are: pull the lever, push the man, kill the baby. I believe I could do the first 2, but I’m not sure about my ability to do the 3rd despite my conviction of it’s correctness. I do have one doubt regarding the push the man scenario: if you can push someone to save the 5, can you not also jump yourself? If one is unwilling to die himself, I am no longer certain of the correctness of pushing someone else.
From an evolutionary perspective, being willing to die yourself is only selected for if there are sufficient people of a like willingness in the population. Otherwise the willing people die off and the population is left with people who aren’t willing to die for another. Whereas being willing to kill 1 man to save 5 would always be selected for in the population. This of course is looking at the situation in a vacuum, and doesn’t consider any vengeance that could be enacted by the pushed man’s family, the fact that people who are willing to kill to save might also be willing to kill for gain, etc. Right now I’m just talking pure mathematics.
I also thought the experiments of the psychiatrist/neurologist were interesting. As discussed (ad nauseam ) in a previous entry, I came up with a model of human morality based on my thought experiments with evolution that has some striking similarities to the model this gentleman proposes based on his brain scans. In my model, humans are born with instincts that are mostly, if not entirely, for their own survival (fight or flight, sexual desire, etc.). They are also born with a blank slate of sorts. This blank slate is filled with information gathered in the world, whether it be through teaching or observation. This blank slate is used to program humans with beliefs that foster the continuation of society, as opposed to the continuation of the self (don’t kill, don’t steal, etc.). Sometimes these systems would run counter to each other, or even to themselves. For example, in my model the train scenario is an instance of the societal system trying to resolve it’s own conflict. On the one hand we have the teaching “Don’t kill someone else” and on the other we have the teaching “Save lives when you can.” There must be a way for determining who wins, hence the “judge” part of the brain observed by these scientists.
So listen to the show, it is interesting.