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Meta-ethics and Ethics

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Ethics Updates Home Page.  Moral theory; relativism; pluralism; religion; egoism; utilitarianism; deontology; duty; human rights; anti-theory; gender; race; multiculturalism;. Some Moral Dilemmas. The Trolley Problem, not in Grassian.

Some Moral Dilemmas

Suggested by Philippa Foot (1920-2010), daughter of Esther, the daughter of President Grover Cleveland, but of British birth because of her father, William Sidney Bence Bosanquet. A trolley is running out of control down a track. In its path are five people who have been tied to the track by a mad philosopher. Fortunately, you could flip a switch, which will lead the trolley down a different track to safety. Desert. First published Tue May 14, 2002; substantive revision Wed Nov 12, 2008 The concept of desert is deeply entrenched in everyday morality.


We say that effort deserves success, wrongdoing deserves punishment, innocent suffering deserves sympathy or compensation, virtue deserves happiness, and so on. We think that the getting of what's deserved is just, and that failure to receive what's deserved is unjust. We also believe it's good that a person gets what she deserves, and bad that she doesn't—even if she deserves something bad, like punishment.