Philosophers often use thought experiments. Thought experiments are devices of our imagination to investigate things. They have been used in the natural sciences as well as in philosophy. A great website for thought experiments is philosophyexperiments.com (Links to an external site.). In ethics thought experiments are often used to illicit our considered judgments about imagined moral dilemmas. In this way we can test our moral theories by considering what they tell us to do in various moral situations. An example of an ethical thought experiment can be found in the “Philosophy Lab” box in your text on p. 158.
- Familiarize yourself with the practice of using thought experiments.
- Evaluate utilitarianism using the Trolley Problem thought experiment.
For this week try the experiment “Should you Kill the Fat Man?” on the philosophy experiments website. Let us know whether the experiment said your view was consistent and your thoughts about the moral dilemma it presents. It is also fair game to criticize the conclusions the website draws about your views. For your initial post write at least two paragraphs (at least 100 words each) due Thursday.