On the Robustness of Intuitions in the two best-known Trolley Dilemmas

Abstract

The Bridge dilemma (pushing a heavy man from a bridge in front of a train that would otherwise kill five persons) and the Switch dilemma (redirecting a train that would otherwise kill five persons onto another track where it kills one person) are presumably the two best-known moral dilemmas in philosophy and psychology. In this paper we claim that people’s intuitions about what to do in Bridge are robust, while intuitions about Switch can be influenced rather easily. In doing so, we strongly disagree with Broeders and colleagues (2011) who recently argued for exactly the opposite claim. We discuss their interpretation of previous findings that were supposed to motivate their claim, present findings from previous studies that strongly support my claim, and report on failed attempts to replicate and present an experiment in which participants were willing to revise their judgment for Switch but not for Bridge.


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