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3.6 End-of-Chapter Exercises

PLEASE NOTE: This book is currently in draft form; material is not final.

End-of-Chapter Problems

  1. A trolley car is hurtling out-of-control down a track where there are 5 workers ahead. You are standing by a switch that can divert the car onto a side track, where only 1 worker is currently, but that worker is your best friend. If you do nothing, the 5 workers will be killed, and if you throw the switch, your friend will be killed (but the 5 will be spared). There is no time to warn the workers or take any other action. Should you throw the switch or not? Does your answer change if there are 50 workers ahead? 500 workers? Does your answer change if the 1 worker is not just your friend, but is your mother? What kind of ethical system are you using to make these decisions?
  2. Justify an answer to the following question using reasoning from each of the four main categories of ethical frameworks: is underage drinking ethical?
  3. What does the phrase, “He would sell his own mother!” imply about the character of an individual?
  4. Jill has placed an ad to sell her used car. She knows that there is a defect with the engine that needs $300 worth of parts to fix, but is unobservable to an inexpert eye. Jack arrives and says he like to purchase the car for Jill’s advertised price. What ethical considerations should Jill have?
  5. Buying a new machine will increase the quality of company ABC’s product. It will also require less labor, so that one worker will no longer be needed. The savings from the worker’s salary will pay for the machine. What are the ethical implications of this decision?
  6. Upon a recent inspection, it was found that the foreign factory for company XYZ is employing child labor. Using child labor for this work is legal in the foreign country, but illegal in the home company. Furthermore, when the children (and their parents) are asked if they prefer to do the work, the all agreed that they without the factory, they could not afford good food and new clothes. What are some of the ethical considerations of this discovery?