An enduring issue which has occupied ethicists and philosophers for decades is the so-called trolley problem. The trolley problem offers a hypothetical scenario in which a trolley containing several people is on a track headed towards a cliff. If the trolley goes over the cliff the trolley will plummet to the ground and the passengers will certainly die. A bystander witnessing this unfolding tragedy has the opportunity to switch the train onto another track, which is not headed over the cliff, and save the passengers. However, if the bystander switches the trolley to the alternative track the trolley will run over an individual on the track and that individual will certainly die.
The central issues in this scenario revolve around the utilitarian argument that dictates switching the trolley to kill the fewest number of people versus the consequentialist argument that if the trolley is switched to the other track the bystander is responsible for the death of the individual on that track. The proper choice in this scenario has been argued for decades and will, undoubtedly, be argued indefinitely into the future. I am pleased that I do not have to choose the outcome. However, the time has come that this decision has to be faced directly. The choice in this and many similar scenarios now needs to be made.