I once had an on-line conversation concerning the Trolley Problem where my interlocutor made an attempt to leap through the horns of the dilemma. His stance was simply that doing nothing, not getting involved, was the most moral position because he could wash his hands of any deaths which resulted. Let us leave aside the moral problem of refusing to get involved (I’m looking at you, eye-witnesses who won’t talk to the police) and test a slightly different version of the problem.
I present for you a version of the Trolley Problem with narrowed horns.
You are walking along the sidewalk when a distinct ka-chunk sounds and you are stopped in your tracks as a monitor comes to life to reveal the following situation.
You have actuated a plate in the sidewalk which has aimed an approaching train at a group of, say, five persons, who will all be killed if the train reaches them. If you step off of the plate on which you are now standing you divert the train back to the former track where it will in fact kill one person.
What is your decision?
This modified version of the problem can be further modified in all the usual ways the former Trolley Problem has been modified (number of persons, status of persons, &c) for testing further moral nuance. I trust though that this version will eliminate at least one avenue of attempted escape for those who would rather not contemplate the epically tragic and thus flee between the horns of this dilemma.