This article has the best example I've yet seen to illustrate what a strange relationship humans have with morality, especially when killing is involved.
- Invented by moral philosopher Professor Judith Jarvis Thomson, who taught at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Case one: A runaway tram is heading towards five people tied to tracks. You are a bystander. Would you flick a switch so it turned down a line where one person was tied to the tracks?
- Case two: Same problem, but you are watching from a footbridge. You could push a fat man next to you off the bridge, and his bulk would stop the tram. Would you do it?
I would tentatively suggest that the two cases are the same in terms of pure ethics, the only thing separating them is how active you have to be. Killing stirs up our subconscious guilt, and the stirring is directly related to how actively we are doing it.