Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Objective Proficiency p 26. Justice: What's The Right Thing To Do? THE MORAL SIDE OF MURDER. Extra Listening




THE MORAL SIDE OF MURDER
If you had to choose between (1) killing one person to save the lives of five others and (2) doing nothing even though you knew that five people would die right before your eyes if you did nothing—what would you do? What would be the right thing to do? Thats the hypothetical scenario Professor Michael Sandel uses to launch his course on moral reasoning. After the majority of students votes for killing the one person in order to save the lives of five others, Sandel presents three similar moral conundrums—each one artfully designed to make the decision more difficult. As students stand up to defend their conflicting choices, it becomes clear that the assumptions behind our moral reasoning are often contradictory, and the question of what is right and what is wrong is not always black and white. 

Listen to the lecture and fill in the gaps

In this course about justice we will start with a story in which you have to imagine you are the driver of a trolley car that is 1.______/ _______the railway at 60 miles an hour. At the end of the railway there are five workers working on it. You can't stop. You are desperate because if you crash into these five workers, they will die. And so you feel helpless until you notice that there is, off to the right, a 2._____________. And at the end of it, there is one worker working. Your 3.________/ ________ works so you can turn the trolley car killing only one worker, but 4.__________ the five. How many would turn the trolley car? How many wouldn't? A 5._________ of people would
go straight ahead. The great majority would turn. Let's hear those in the majority. "Because it can't be right to kill five people when you can kill only one."  So it's better to kill one so that five can live. Let's hear now those in the minority. Those who wouldn't turn. "I think it is the same reasoning that justifies genocide and totalitarianism, in order to save one type of race you 6._________/ __________ the other." So to avoid the horrors of genocide you would crash into the five and kill them. "7.___________, yes."
 
Let's study another trolley car scenario to see if this majority still wants to 8._______/ _______ the same principle. This time you're an 9.__________ on a bridge 10.___________ a trolley car track, and down the track comes a trolley car, at the end of the track there are five workers. The breaks don't work, the trolley car is about to 11._______/ ______ the five and kill them. Now you're not the driver, you really feel helpless, until you notice, standing next to you, 12.________/ _________ the bridge is a very fat man. And you could give him a 13._________, he would fall over the bridge, onto the track, right in the way of the trolley car, he would die, but the other five would not. How many would push the fat man over the bridge? How many wouldn't? Most people wouldn't. What became of the principle that almost everyone 14.__________ in the first case. How do you explain the difference between the two? "The second one involves an active choice of pushing down a person who was not involved, whereas in the first case the three parties were involved." Who else can find a way of 15._____________ the reaction of the majority in these two cases? "In the first case it's a choice between the two, and you have to make a choice. The trolley car is a 16.__________ thing and you're making a 17.________/ _______ choice, whereas pushing the fat man over is an actual act of murder on your part."  "In both scenarios you have to choose who dies". "It just still seems different. You are actually killing him yourself and that's different than 18._________ something that is going to cause death into another." Let's imagine he was standing over a trap door that I could open by turning a steering wheel. Would you turn? "That seems even more wrong. Maybe if you accidentally 19.______ into the steering wheel or say that the car is going fast towards a switch that will drop the trap then I could agree with that. Moreover in the first situation, you're involved directly with the situation. In the second one you're a bystander as well."
 
Let's imagine a different case. This time you're a doctor in an emergency room and six patients come to you. They've been in a terrible trolley car 20._______. Five of them 21.____________ moderate injuries, one is severely injured, you could spend all day caring for the severely injured victim, but in that time the other five would die, or you look after the five but during that time the one severely injured person would die. How many would save the five? Now as the doctor, how many would save the one? Very few people. Just a handful of people. Same reason I assume, one life 22._________ five? 
Consider another doctor case. You're a transplant surgeon and you have five patients, each in desperate need of an organ transplant in order to survive. You have no organ donors. They are about to die, and then, it occurs to you that in the next room there is a healthy guy who came in for a 23.__________, and he's taking a 24._______. You could go in very quietly, 25._______ out the five organs, that person would die, but you could save the five. How many would do it? "I'd actually like to explore a slightly alternate possibility of just taking the one of the five who needs an organ who dies first, using their four healthy organs to save the other four." That's a great idea, except for the fact that you just 26._________ the philosophical point.

KEY 
1. hurtling down (hurtle / ˈhɜːtl/ + adverb/preposition to move very fast in a particular direction. E.g. A runaway car came hurtling towards us.)




2. sidetrack 




3. steering wheel




4. sparing (spare to save somebody/yourself from having to go through an unpleasant experience. E.g. He wanted to spare his mother any anxiety. She was spared from the ordeal of appearing in court.) 




5. handful 




6. wipe out (to destroy or remove somebody/something completely. E.g. Whole villages were wiped out by the earthquake.) 




7. Presumably /prɪˈzjuːməbli/




8. adhere to 




9. onlooker (a person who watches something that is happening but is not involved in it. Bystander. E.g. A crowd of onlookers gathered at the scene of the crash.)




10. overlooking (overlook something if a building, etc. overlooks a place, you can see that place from the building. E.g. a restaurant overlooking the lake. Our back yard is overlooked by several houses.)




11. careen into (Careen /kəˈriːn/ + adverb/preposition to move forward very quickly especially in a way that is dangerous or uncontrolled. Hurtle. E.g. an electric golf cart careened around the corner) 




12. leaning over 




13. shove ( /ʃʌv/ a strong push. E.g. You have to give the door a shove or it won't close.




14. endorsed (endorse /ɪnˈdɔːs/ to say publicly that you support a person, statement or course of action. E.g. I wholeheartedly endorse his remarks. Members of all parties endorsed a ban on land mines.) 




15. reconciling (reconcile /ˈrekənsaɪl/ to find an acceptable way of dealing with two or more ideas, needs, etc. that seem to be opposed to each other. E.g. an attempt to reconcile the need for industrial development with concern for the environment. It was hard to reconcile his career ambitions with the needs of his children.)




16. runaway (not under the control of its owner, rider or driver. E.g. a runaway horse/car)




17. split second (a very short moment of time. E.g. Their eyes met for a split second.)




18. steering (steer: to control the direction in which a boat, car, etc. moves. E.g. He steered the boat into the harbour.)




19. leaned  




20. wreck (crash E.g. a car/train wreck




21. sustained (sustain /səˈsteɪn/ to experience something bad. Suffer. E.g. to sustain damage/an injury/a defeat. The company sustained losses of millions of dollars.) 




22. versus (/ ˈvɜːsəs/  used to compare two different ideas, choices, etc. E.g. It was the promise of better job opportunities versus the inconvenience of moving away and leaving her friends.)




23. check-up (an examination of something, especially a medical one to make sure that you are healthy.
E.g. to go for/to have a check-up. A medical/dental/routine/thorough check-up)




24. nap




25. yank (to pull something/somebody hard, quickly and suddenly) 




26. wrecked (wreck to spoil something completely. E.g. The weather wrecked all our plans. A serious injury nearly wrecked his career.)  





TRANSCRIPT
Announcer: Funding for this program is provided by: Additional funding provided by:

Michael Sandel: This is a course about justice, and we begin with a story. Suppose you are the driver of a trolley car, and your trolley car is hurtling down the track at 60 miles an hour, and at the end of the track you notice five workers working on the track. You try to stop but you can't. Your breaks don't work. You feel desperate because you know that if you crash into these five workers, they will all die. Let's assume you know that for sure. And so you feel helpless until you notice that there is, off to the right, a sidetrack. And at the end of that track, there is one worker working on the track. Your steering wheel works so you can turn the trolley car if you want to, onto the side track, killing the one, but sparing the five. Here's our first question: What's the right thing to do? What would you do? Let's take a poll. How many would turn the trolley car onto the sidetrack? Raise your hands. How many wouldn't? How many would go straight ahead? Keep your hands up, those of you who would go straight ahead. A handful of people would. The vast majority would turn. Let's hear first, now we need to begin to investigate the reasons why you think it's the right thing to do. Let's begin with those in the majority, who would turn to go onto the sidetrack. Why would you do it? What would be your reason? Who is willing to volunteer a reason? Go ahead, stand up.

Student A: Umm, because it can't be right to kill five people when you can only kill one person instead.

Michael Sandel: It wouldn't be right to kill five if you could kill one person instead. That's a good reason. That's a good reason. Who else? Does everybody agree with that reason? Go ahead.

Student B: Umm, well I was thinking it was the same reason on 9/11, we regard the people who flew the plane into the Pennsylvania field as heroes because they chose to kill the people on the plane, and not kill more people in big buildings.

Michael Sandel: So the principle there was the same on 9/11. It's a tragic circumstance, but better to kill one and so that five can live. Is that the reason most of you had, those of you that would turn? Yes? Let's hear now from those in the minority. Those who wouldn't turn. Yes.

Student C: Well I think that is the same type of mentality that justifies genocide and totalitarianism, in order to save one type of race you wipe out the other.

Michael Sandel: So what would you do in this case? You would, to avoid the horrors of genocide; you would crash into the five and kill them?

Student C: Presumably, yes.

Michael Sandel: You would?

Student C: Yea.
Michael Sandel: OK. Who else? That's a brave answer. Thank you. Let's consider another trolley car case, and see whether those of you in the majority want to adhere to the principle. Better that one should die so that five should live. This time you're not the driver of the trolley car, you're an onlooker. You're standing on a bridge overlooking a trolley car track, and down the track comes a trolley car, at the end of the track are five workers. The breaks don't work, the trolley car is about to careen into the five and kill them, and now, you're not the driver, you really feel helpless, until you notice, standing next to you, leaning over the bridge is a very fat man. And you could give him a shove, he would fall over the bridge, onto the track, right in the way of the trolley car, he would die, but he would spare the five. Now, how many would push the fat man over the bridge? Raise your hand. How many wouldn't? Most people wouldn't. Here's the obvious question, what became of the principle? Better to save five lives, even if it means sacrificing one, what became of the principle that almost everyone endorsed, in the first case. I need to hear from somebody who was in the majority in both cases. How do you explain the difference between the two? Yes?

Student D: The second one, I guess, involves an active choice of pushing a person down, which, I guess that person himself would otherwise not have been involved in this situation at all, and so to choose on his behalf, I guess, to ah, to involve him in something he otherwise would have escaped is, I guess, more than what you have in the first case where the three parties, the driver and the two sets of workers are already, I guess, in the situation.

Michael Sandel: But the guy working, the one on the track off to the side, he didn't choose to sacrifice his life anymore than the fat man did, did he?

Student D: That's true, but he was on the tracks and you…

Michael Sandel: This guy was on the bridge. Go ahead. You can come back if you want. Alright, it's a hard question. Alright, you did well. You did very well. It's a hard question. Umm, who else can find a way of reconciling the reaction of the majority in these two cases? Yes?

Student E: Well I guess, umm, in the first case, where you have the one worker and the five. It's a choice between those two, and you have to make a certain choice and people are going to die because of the trolley car, not necessarily because of your direct actions. The trolley car is a runaway thing and you're making a split-second choice, whereas pushing the fat man over is an actual act of murder on your part. You have control over that whereas you may not have control over the trolley car, so I think it's a slightly different situation.

Michael Sandel: Alright, who has a reply? Is that, no, that's good. Who has a way? Who wants to reply? Is that a way out of this?

Student F: Umm, I don't think that's a very good reason because you choose to, it's, either way you have to choose who dies because you either choose to turn and kill the person which is an active conscious thought to turn, or you choose to push the fat man over, which is an active conscious action. So, either way you're making a choice.

Michael Sandel: Do you want to reply?

Student E: Well I'm, I'm not really sure that's the case. It just still seems kind of different, the act of actually pushing someone over onto the tracks and killing him. You are actually killing him yourself.

Michael Sandel: You're pushing him with your own hands.

Student E: You're pushing him and that's different than steering something that is going to cause death into another, you know, it doesn't really sound right saying it now…

Michael Sandel: No, no, it's good.

Student E: when I'm up here.

Michael Sandel: It's good. What's your name?

Student E: Andrew.

Michael Sandel: Andrew. Let me ask you this question Andrew…

Andrew: Yes.

Michael Sandel: Suppose, standing on the bridge next to the fat man, I didn't have to push him, suppose he was standing over a trap door that I could open by turning a steering wheel like that? Would you turn?

Andrew: For, for some reason, that still just seems more wrong. Right? I mean, maybe if you accidentally like leaned into the steering wheel or something like that, but ah, or say that the car is, is hurtling towards a switch that will drop the trap, umm, then I could agree with that.

Michael Sandel: Fair enough. It still seems wrong in a way that is doesn't seem wrong in the first case to turn you say.

Andrew: And then in another way, I mean, in the first situation, you're involved directly with the situation. In the second one you're an onlooker as well. So you have the choice of becoming involved or not by pushing the fat man.

Michael Sandel: Alright. Let's
let's, let's forget for the moment about this case. That's good. Ah, let's imagine a different case. This time you're a doctor in an emergency room and six patients come to you. Ah, they've been in a terrible trolley car wreck. Five of them sustained moderate injuries, one is severely injured, you could spend all day caring for the one severely injured victim, but in that time the five would die, or you look after the five, restore them to health, but during that time the one severely injured person would die. How many would save the five? Now as the doctor, how many would save the one? Very few people. Just a handful of people. Same reason I assume, one life versus five? Now consider another doctor case, this time you're a transplant surgeon and you have five patients, each in desperate need of an organ transplant in order to survive. One needs a heart, one a lung, one a kidney, one a liver and the fifth a pancreas. And you have no organ donors. You are about to see them die, and then, it occurs to you that in the next room there is a healthy guy who came in for a checkup, and he's… You like that? And he's, he's taking a nap. You could go in very quietly, yank out the five organs, that person would die, but you could save the five. How many would do it? Anyone? How many? Put your hands up if you would do it. Anyone in the balcony?

Student: I would.

Michael Sandel: You would? Be careful, don't lean over too… What, ah, how many wouldn't? Alright. What do you say, speak up in the balcony. You who would yank out the organs, why?

Student G: I'd actually like to explore a slightly alternate possibility of just taking the one of the five who needs an organ who dies first, using their four healthy organs to save the other four.

Michael Sandel: That's a pretty good idea. That's a great idea, except for the fact that you just wrecked the philosophical point.


Related stories
Michael Sandel on Forum
Putting a Price Tag on Life/ How to Measure Pleasure 
Free to Choose/ Who Owns Me?
Michael Sandel on the BBC's Reith Lectures
Michael Sandel is The Public Philosopher on the BBC

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