Journal of Philosophy of Life

An international peer-reviewed open access journal dedicated to the philosophy of life, death, and nature, supported by the Project of Philosophy and Contemporary Society, Advanced Research Center for Human Sciences, Waseda University


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The Trolley Problem and the Dropping of Atomic Bombs

Masahiro Morioka

Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.7, No.2 (August 2017):316-337




In this paper, the ethical and spiritual aspects of the trolley problem are discussed in connection with the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. First, I show that the dropping of atomic bombs was a typical example of the events that contained the logic of the trolley problems in their decision-making processes and justifications. Second, I discuss five aspects of “the problem of the trolley problem;” that is to say, “Rarity,” “Inevitability,” “Safety Zone,” “Possibility of Becoming a Victim,” and “Lack of Perspective of the Dead Victims Who Were Deprived of Freedom of Choice,” in detail. Third, I argue that those who talk about the trolley problem are automatically placed in the sphere of the expectation of response on the spiritual level. I hope that my contribution will shed light on the trolley problem from a very different angle, which has not been made by our fellow philosophers.

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