Nov 19, 2010

would Aristotle kill one person to save 20?


Would he ever.

[166th in a series]


Paul Hamann said...

Did he?

Jim Anderson said...

As Philippa Foot described in her landmark text Aristotle Got There First, the great Greek philosopher once came upon the scene of a disaster in the making:

A trolley was racing down the track toward a bus filled with nineteen members of Athens' Mensa club. As it reached a junction where one throw of a switch would send it hurtling down another track, where only one person, a kindly old station agent for the railroad, would be killed, Aristotle arrived to find Jeremy Bentham and Immanuel Kant locked in a deadly struggle. Bentham was shouting, "You have to save as many as you can!" as he grappled with the German, who grunted out a reply, "No, no! Never use anyone as a mere means to an end!"

While both were distracted, Aristotle bravely stepped in front of the trolley, sacrificing his own life to save twenty innocents. It was the fitting conclusion to a glorious philosophical career