The Vision

MSMS Decides If They Will Pull the Lever

Elizabeth Smith, Staff Writer

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On Tuesday, April 17, Yousef Abu-Salah and Advaith Sunil hosted a seminar in which MSMS students made important decisions revolving around morality and defended their choices. The students and hosts discussed the world famous “Trolley Problem” at length.

The problem, in short, is this: There is a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person tied up on the side track. You have two options: you can pull the lever and kill one person or not involve yourself in the situation and allow five people to die. There are about a dozen variations of this problem, from the one person being a baby and the five people being senior citizens to your relatives or friends being somewhere on the track. The students of MSMS tackled this problem, but not without the help of MSMS senior, Yousef Abu-Salah, and MSMS junior, Advaith Sunil.

MSMS junior and co-host of the seminar, Sunil says the following about his plight of morality: “The event was surprisingly easy to organize and the turnout was fantastic. We actually had to cut out a variation of the problem because we were running out of time. The enthusiasm of the students that showed up was really eye-opening and it was so refreshing to be shown different stances on a similar problem by so many bright people. Overall, it was a thrilling and educational look into the human mind. I’m so happy I could help make this happen.”

MSMS junior, Maria Kaltchenko attended this event as well. Kaltchenko says that she “enjoyed this particular seminar because it sparked a lot of discussion among my friends and me. With each adaptation of the problem, more and more disagreement arose, and I love to argue my viewpoint.”

Dr. Adam Smith, a physician, certified philosopher, and an MSMS parent thinks that “the Trolley Problem is meant to target human nature and the urgency of one’s natural instinct and drive to survive. It does this inadequately and cannot get the response that the problem aims for because there is no righteous option. Regardless of how you choose to look at it, either one person or five people die at your hands. You cannot save everyone; this is not morally correct. Regardless of your decision, you immorally kill at least one person. This raises, but doesn’t address the question: ‘Is murder ever justifiable?’ This is the question you must ask yourself when you choose whether or not to pull the lever.”

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