A train is racing toward five men, tied to the track. Unless the train is stopped, it will inevitably kill all five men.
If a fat man is pushed onto the line, although he will die, his body will stop the train, saving five lives. Would you kill the fat man?
As David Edmonds shows, answering the question is far more complex, and important, than it first appears. In fact, how we answer it tells us a great deal about right and wrong.
©2014 David Edmonds (P)2014 W F Howes Ltd
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
on the complexity of moral decisions and how rationality--and to a surprising degree--emotion play roles in our everyday ethics. I teach a class based in Theories Of Morality, and my classes discuss such questions on a daily basis, including the one that gives this book its title. Since Kohlberg and Gilligan began their search for a testable rubric for morality (both included gender as a factor in moral decisions), ethics scientists have struggled to define what a "moral act" is and how exactly we arrive at the decisions we make when ethics are at stake. Edmonds does a fine job here of furthering the debate and clarifying many of its ongoing issues. This book would go very well with John Haidt's The Happiness Hypothesis (the title has a lot to do with ethics and how we decide, so the title is a bit misleading) & his second book The Righteous Mind--I highly recommend both be take with Would You Kill The Fat Man.
I teach a course on ethics to third year medical students. I majored in philosophy as an undergrad before becoming a physician. I try to get them to search for the basic principles on which they base their decisions, especially with regard to such controversial topics as physician assisted suicide, abortion, complex triage choices, and allocation of medical resources. I have used the "Trolley Case" for many years to force them to think at a deeper level.
This book is a splendid introduction to the "Trolley Case" and to the whole question of duty ethics versus utilitarian ethics, with fascinating excursions into the concepts of virtue, the role of neuroscience, and whether morality is learned or innate.
The narrator has just the right amount of whimsey in his voice to capture the humor of the author. Highly recommended to anyone interested in this important topic.
I liked exploring the idea of morality and how varied that can be, even within one culture. Though, I don't feel the book came to any concrete conclusions, nor should it. Morality is both social and personally dictated and hard to predict.
While I enjoyed Would You Kill The Fat Man, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to others unless, I knew they had a tolerance and understanding of academia. There were times when I felt all the theories were getting just too ridiculous and too convoluted and almost felt like turning it off. But, I stuck with it and, it does end up pulling together a lot of the various aspects and theories.
Gareth's performance was expressive and interesting, highlighting the humour.
About half to, three quaters through, it was all starting to seem very nonsensical. Like wading through a quagmire. However, if you stick with it, it does get better again.
"I got it right off"
the first half was interesting, the rest of it was a bit repetitive
This book was a bit of a one trick pony.....the premise was interesting but it seemed to drag and repeat
"Thought provoking and interesting"
I would listen again. Though it would have been useful to have included a download booklet. However it was interesting and not at all dry considering the subject matter of ethical decision making.
The cold decision making process re: bombings in the war.
If you are interested in ethics and want a lighter overview I think you will enjoy this audiobook as I did.
"Depressing (but entertaining)"
Not on this subject.
The book is well-written, witty and engaging. The subject matter, however, could is enough to make you weep.
Are there really people who spend their lives "studying" and debating matters described in this book? Have they nothing better to do? If you have a limited tolerance of pseudoscience then I advise you avoid everything to do with philosophy. This book gets away with it because it fails to take itself seriously. Indeed, it was enjoyable and engaging until I inevitably slipped back to the thought that proper universities pay people to dedicate their adult lives to fruitless, vain navel-gazing and even be respected for doing so.
Would I push the fat man? Not if it meant saving five philosophers.
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