Personal Example of Moral Decision-making: 'The Trolley Dilemma'

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 877 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Aug 14, 2023

Words: 877|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Aug 14, 2023

Table of contents

  1. The Trolley Dilemma & Moral Decision-Making
  2. Conclusion
  3. References

Moral decision-making is a complex and fundamental aspect of human existence, shaping our behaviors, values, and relationships. As individuals, we are continually faced with choices that involve weighing ethical considerations, often pitting personal desires against societal norms or even our own moral compass. The process of moral decision-making is a part of human psychology, philosophy, and social dynamics. This essay aims to explore the multifaceted nature of moral decision-making. With the help of 'The Trolley Dilemma' I will share personal solution and example of making moral decision.

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The Trolley Dilemma & Moral Decision-Making

If there was a train that was going to kill 5 people, but you could turn a switch to divert the track to only kill one person, I believe the common consensus would be to flip the switch to only kill one person. The part where morality comes into play with this example is that you would be intentionally killing that one person and killing the five people would be the trains natural course.

If I was a software engineer developing a computer system to design a trolley to drive, I would program it to make ethical decision that falls under the core ethics of the majority of people. This computer system would be autonomous, but not for a single person’s moral campus but instead for a broader moral system. I would design the system to reach a decision to “throw the switch” to save five lives. The way I view it is that yes, I would be designing it to intentionally killing one person. But I would also be designing a system to also intentionally saving five lives at the same time. Most people would agree that one death versus five deaths is better.

The program would be embedded with primarily utilitarian-like moral decision making. Utilitarian-like decision making is all about making the morally correct action that will be the one that produces the most desirable outcome. According to Tavani, “Utilitarian’s argue that the outcome or consequences for the greatest number of individuals, or the majority, in a given society is paramount in moral deliberation”. This means that the program would be embedded with moral decision making that would represent the mass majority of a society. I believe that rule-unitarian idea could be argued in this example of a trolley. I do not think it does play a rule in this case because this is a tragic accident. I believe the rule-unitarian could play a rule in other cases like killing a healthy person to give five healthy organs to dying people. It is morally not okay to kill one incident person to give life to five. I know this may sound like I am contradicting myself, but I strongly believe it is case by case. Rule-utilitarianism is all about saving the one percent from enslavement to help the ninety nine percent. The one percent has as much right as the night nine percent has a right.

I do not think that rule deontology should be included into the decision making of the program. Rule deontology is based off the idea of “act always on that maxim or principle (or rule) that ensures that all individuals will be treated as ends-in-themselves and never merely as a means to an end”. I believe that this idea is flowed because it does not take into count the cases. In a perfect world it would be great to follow this decision-making ideology. But we do not live in a perfect world. I believe that act deontology would be a better way for the program to make its decisions. Act deontology is based off individual cases to decide which decision overrides the other decision. When it comes to making split second decisions like the trolley headed towards five people. The program will need to look at the case and determine which decision will override the other one.


In conclusion, I believe that the program needs to be able to make ethical decisions and to have the most ethical decision override the other. According to Moors just consequentialism framework, “only an ethical approach that combines considerations of consequences of action with more traditional deontological considerations of duties, rights, and justice can provide us with a defensible ethical theory”. I believe that there is no right and wrong answer in every moral decision that is presented to us in cases. It is our duty to be able to way the decisions to decide the best course of action that follows our core ethics as a society.


  1. Haidt, J. (2012). The righteous mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion. Vintage.

  2. Gilligan, C. (1982). In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development. Harvard University Press.

  3. Beauchamp, T. L. (2003). Methods and principles in biomedical ethics. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 28(1), 3-11.

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  4. Rest, J. R. (1979). Development in judging moral issues. University of Minnesota Press.

  5. Koenigs, M., Young, L., Adolphs, R., Tranel, D., Cushman, F., Hauser, M., & Damasio, A. (2007). Damage to the prefrontal cortex increases utilitarian moral judgments. Nature, 446(7138), 908-911.
  6. Doris, J. M., & Plakias, A. (2008). How to argue about disagreement: Evaluative diversity and moral realism. In Moral psychology (pp. 341-367). MIT Press.
  7. Uhlmann, E. L., & Pizarro, D. A. (2012). Salient violations of moral norms create moral outrage (even when harm is lacking). Psychological Science, 23(4), 403-410.
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Personal Example of Moral Decision-Making: ‘The Trolley Dilemma’. (2023, August 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 21, 2024, from
“Personal Example of Moral Decision-Making: ‘The Trolley Dilemma’.” GradesFixer, 14 Aug. 2023,
Personal Example of Moral Decision-Making: ‘The Trolley Dilemma’. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2024].
Personal Example of Moral Decision-Making: ‘The Trolley Dilemma’ [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Aug 14 [cited 2024 May 21]. Available from:
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