Utilitarianism is the belief that the best action is the one that maximizes “utility.” In our case, more utility would be achieved by saving the five people than saving a single person. The utilitarian would be you pushing the lever. This fits to what is a morally justified action. The morality can be demonstrated by looking at both the negative and positive duties (Mill 338). Negative duties are the compulsion preventing one from harming others and on the other hand, positive duties are the obligation driving someone towards doing good, which in this particular case is to save lives.
An individual can apply this reasoning in the trolley problem by self-inquiring about which choice could cause less harm. However, there is a conflict between these two duties as the negative duty of saving the five men and subsequently killing the other person does not make him morally justified in doing it. This writing seeks to look at the issue based on Utilitarianism and how the matter can help in impacting on the general population in the nation,
Immanuel Kant developed a fundamental opposing theory to Utilitarianism. According to Kant, we should look at our maxims, or intentions, of the particular action (Mill 340). These ethical factors were elaborated in his principle of morality he referred to as “The Categorical Imperatives.” His practical suggestion would, therefore, be to not allowing the pushing of the lever to kill the one person to save five. This is because the decision to kill another rational being is always immoral in the eyes of the Kantian ethicist. It is unacceptable to utilize the life of the lone person as a means to a solution, thus violating his autonomy as an individual.
Mill, John Stuart. “Utilitarianism.” Seven Masterpieces of Philosophy. Routledge, 2016. 337-383.
Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty, Utilitarianism, and other essays. Oxford University Press, USA, 2015.