By Lauren Cassani Davis
Originally published October 9, 2015
Here is an excerpt:
The trolley dilemmas vividly distilled the distinction between two different concepts of morality: that we should choose the action with the best overall consequences (in philosophy-speak, utilitarianism is the most well-known example of this), like only one person dying instead of five, and the idea that we should always adhere to strict duties, like “never kill a human being.” The subtle differences between the scenarios provided helped to articulate influential concepts, like the distinction between actively killing someone versus passively letting them die, that continue to inform contemporary debates in law and public policy. The trolley problem has also been, and continues to be, a compelling teaching tool within philosophy.
By the late ‘90s, trolley problems had fallen out of fashion. Many philosophers questioned the value of the conclusions reached by analyzing a situation so bizarre and specific.
The entire article is here.