Scrolling Headlines:

Berkeley professor researches high-poverty high school -

December 11, 2017

Rosenberg steps down as Senate President during husband’s controversy -

December 11, 2017

Students aim to bring smiles to kids’ faces at Baystate Children’s Hospital -

December 11, 2017

‘Growing Cannabis On the Farm’ event held at Hampshire College -

December 11, 2017

UMass women’s basketball defeats Saint Peter’s for third straight win -

December 11, 2017

Celebrity culture could be a part of the problem -

December 11, 2017

Mulligan’s defense, rebounding helps push Minutewomen past Saint Peters -

December 11, 2017

Gaudet’s power play goal clinches 2-1 victory over Union for UMass hockey -

December 11, 2017

The department of Judaic Studies makes a disappointing decision -

December 11, 2017

The merits of print journalism shouldn’t be overlooked -

December 11, 2017

Tips to help manage stress during finals -

December 11, 2017

‘Coco’ is a colorful movie with a refreshing culture -

December 11, 2017

UMass women’s basketball rolls over Fisher College 121-38 in a record setting affair -

December 10, 2017

Hailey Leidel catches fire, breaks program record for 3-pointer’s in 121-38 victory over Fisher College -

December 10, 2017

Hockey Notebook: Jake Gaudet beginning to find his rhythm with UMass hockey -

December 10, 2017

Pipkins’ scoring outburst leads UMass past Providence -

December 9, 2017

Second half run leads UMass men’s basketball over Providence -

December 9, 2017

Students vote ‘yes’ for Student Union renovations -

December 8, 2017

Editorial: Our shift to a primarily digital world -

December 7, 2017

Writer and Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King speaks at Amherst College -

December 7, 2017

Trolleys, Trump and nuclear missiles

(Mark Cornelison/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS)

A runaway trolley is pummeling down the tracks toward five unaware workers who will all be killed if the trolley continues. You are standing by a large lever beside the track. The only way to save the five workers is to pull the lever, veering the trolley onto a different track. The only problem is that there is another worker on the diverted track. By pulling the lever, the five workers would be saved but the one worker would be killed. What do you do?

No moral or ethical issue is black and white. Although there are many different versions of “the trolley problem,” the results seem to be the same. In this version, most individuals agree with the utilitarian perspective, which according to The Guardian, is the idea that “most appropriate action is the one that achieves the greatest good for the greatest number.” This theory makes sense; minimize the casualties as much as possible. However, others argue with this perspective, believing that we are morally obligated to follow a particular set of rules, even if the outcome could have been more desirable. They argue that sacrificing one life to save five others means crossing lines that shouldn’t be crossed. This is the deontological perspective.

If you agree with the utilitarian perspective, you are in the majority. Psychological research shows that most individuals deem flipping the lever as morally acceptable. But is this method always the answer?

We are not guaranteed to always have the “luxury” of choosing the amount of people who die in certain scenarios. But what justifies us to determine who is lucky enough to live and who isn’t? This is a question for President Trump.

Even before the current administration, relations between the United States and North Korea weren’t peaceful. These tensions have only increased in recent weeks over social media and across the world. This began with Trump’s initial tweet on Sept. 23, which read “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” This tweet was also in response to North Korea’s recent testing of nuclear bombs.

In response to this tweet, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, said Trump’s comments at the U.N. were “unprecedented rude nonsense.” The dictator described Trump’s behavior as “mentally deranged” and said that “Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation.”

And so, how do trolleys and nuclear missiles have any relation to each other? The irresponsibility of putting the United States, which has a population of over 300 million people, at risk to a nuclear attack is almost unfathomable. By threatening North Korea with war, Trump is prioritizing a utilitarian attempt that he thinks will save American lives, over the threat of nuclear war.

This may seem like a logical plan of action, to conserve the lives of your citizens at all costs necessary. I believe that Trump is simply forgetting that this is not a game. As CNN Correspondent Fareed Zakaria argues, “For Trump, winning justifies everything.” But this isn’t a philosophical problem or a game, and Trump needs to realize that real people’s lives are hanging in the balance.

Like in the trolley problem, it’s always hard to make decisions when human lives are at stake. What Trump fails to realize is that this isn’t the trolley problem. The ends do not justify the means in this missile race, where millions of civilians might not see the end of the day. By instigating this ongoing Twitter soap opera, Trump makes it more likely that an impulsive decision will be made by one side or the other, equating to the end of this “game” for everyone.

Gretchen Keller is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at gkeller@umass.edu.

Comments
2 Responses to “Trolleys, Trump and nuclear missiles”
  1. kafantaris says:

    To save themselves, and perhaps the world, all countries now need to band together and chart a course independent of the United States.

  2. Nitzakhon says:

    I see that on multiple columns my comments are being deleted.

Leave A Comment