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What does Judith Jarvis Thomson's looped trolley problem show about Kant?

Thomson argues that the Kantian notion of ‘using merely as a means’ does not provide a satisfactory answer, however, and to this end she introduces a modified Bystander scenario called the Loop case. As in the Bystander case, the tracks diverge, but now they reconnect further along to form a loop... [etc., you get the idea I'm sure]

https://philarchive.org/archive/KLEAKS

While it may sound absurd, is there any way that it shows Kantian morality does show that we should throw the lever, whether or not we should do so only in loop cases.

I cannot will inaction in either of those scenarios, maybe because I start with a different conception of 'action' to Kant (that not doing is a doing); though I accept that at least in the standard trolley dilemma it is not an incoherent maxim.

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  • I would figure that you don't always use people as a means by sacrificing them, even their life, for "the greater good". obviously there are cases when you do, but not every consequence of an action is a means of it, surely (just as an enforced famine or bombing campaign for the greater good seems more means based than feeding your family first even if they are not most at risk of starvation)
    – user56770
    Nov 16 '21 at 12:47
  • It is unclear what you want "any way" to accomplish. "That it shows Kantian morality does show that we should throw the lever, whether or not we should do so only in loop cases." What is "it", and when should we "throw the lever" according to your way? In the Bystander case, Loop cases, both? Is that supposed to be matched by Kant's morality? "I cannot will inaction in either of those scenarios". Which scenarios exactly? Bystander and Loop only, Footbridge also?
    – Conifold
    Nov 17 '21 at 21:29
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I think what it shows is that people don't use philosophy to solve moral problems.

Given responsibility over some set of human lives they are not overly attached to they recognize that sacrifices may have to be made for "the greater good" and will pull a lever and wear a poppy once a year. When asked to murder someone in order to achieve that "greater good" they will balk at it due to emotions and society's dim view of murderers.

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