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Guy Crain

Abstract

In this paper I argue that the trolley method of moral philosophy has three shortcomings not yet adequately addressed in the literature.  First, trolley problems highlight high stakes ethical decisions.  These decisions do not represent the majority of ethical decisions made by most people, and thus, the trolley method ignores most of moral life.  Second, the trolley method operates by way of a faux-anonymization of moral agents.  This process leads to descriptions of moral agents being unwittingly supplied by those to whom the problems are presented and thereby the formation of a paradigmatic moral agent which excludes a considerable number of real world moral persons.  Lastly, the trolley method mischaracterizes what most moral decision-making is like by presenting a moral agent's decision as isolated, uninfluenced, and made with full self-awareness.

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