Six moral vacuum questions


To the OP, could you condense the question into something smaller and a little easier to understand? Je ne comprends pas.


Why is it a train that has to be manually switched and people are tied to the tracks. That’s so rocky and bullwinkle meets the 1800s lets modernize these scenarios that are obviously made to degrade moral law.

Google driverless cars buys out über. A driverless uber is about to plow into a lesbian wedding at a Catholic Church. Meanwhile the other über is sbout to plow into a traditional Latin Mass. Which one do you stop and why?


I am going to go out on a limb and guess the lesbian wedding is at a breakaway Catholic church. What is the canonical status of those celebrating the Latin Mass?



“Artifical, contrived and manipulative scenarios from Secular Ethics 101, therefore PRO-CHOICE!” :smiley:




Pontifical Council for the Family
“In truth, if it is sometimes licit to tolerate a lesser evil in order to avoid a greater evil or to promote a greater good, it is not licit, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil so that good may follow therefrom, that is, to make into the object of a positive act of the will something which is intrinsically disorder[d], and hence unworthy of the human person, even when the intention is to safeguard or promote individual, family or social well-being.”

The available answers are:
*]obligated to do kill one or five
*]obligated to do nothing

The correct answer that is missing, is none of those. A certain conscience must be obeyed, and God should be appealed to. Another course of action is that which does not involve killing.

Also we know that in vitro fertilization is unacceptable morally (scenario #3).


These moral puzzles probably were created in the 1800s; then, manual switching was the norm, and victims tied to tracks were more likely to occur.

They probably arose from the imagination of people uncomfortable with the Industrial Revolution.

But like problems from the same time involving throwing people out of lifeboats, they serve no worthwhile purpose.

If an electric train heads east from Texas at 60 mph into a 40 mph head wind, which way does the smoke go? :):):slight_smile:



I’ll stick with my original answer: purple. :wink:


To the four corners of the Earth. :slight_smile:


Oh, sorry, guys, I missed the post where everyone just decided to ignore. My bad.

While I’m here, here is a joke I learned yesterday:

A biologist, a chemist and a statistician are out on a hunting trip together. They see a deer in the distance. The biologist shoots first, and misses the deer by five feet to its left. The chemist shoots next, and misses by five feet to its right. The statistician starts cheering, “We got it! We got it!”


A better moral question, who does it edify, lift-up, strengthen or give peace to pose these questions to your neighbor? What fruit of the spirit is being encouraged in those who answer?

On a logic level, these questions are all a form of the Kobiashi Maru. They are a straw man argument with no possibility of winning. Therefore, there is no morality in question because God is not random.

On a theological level, God is fully in control and is not a school boy with a magnifying glass on an ant hill. Do you glorify Jesus as Lord through this discussion?



These are artificial constructs, the products of impious speculation, and meant to test the Church. I do not need to test God.




The scenarios are somewhat artificial and in all likelihood different options may present. It is particularly artificial to constrain options and then demand a choice. Nevertheless, some points of moral theology can be exposed by these thought experiments… I offer my thoughts (which I don’t hold out as correct or authoritative).

One is obligated to love your neighbour, though the extent of action that entails is not specified. One should do one’s best to save as many lives as possible. Given the train will surely kill the 1 or the 5, to force the train onto the track that kills 1 (away from the 5) in the interests of minimising the harm caused by the train is a moral act; the moral object is the saving of lives, not the murder of anyone, despite the foreseeable death.

#2: A train is running on a single track that is destined to run over five individuals tied down to the track, killing them. There is a large individual whose mass you know will be enough to stop the train if he were placed in the train’s path. Pushing this individual into the path of the train (thus killing him) is the only way which the train can be stopped before it kills the five individuals tied to the tracks. Are you obligated to push the man into the path of the train? Are you obligated to do nothing? If your answer to this question is incongruous with your answer to #1 can you explain why?

One is obligated to love your neighbour, though the extent of action that entails is not specified. One should do one’s best to save as many lives as possible. To push the man onto the tracks is an act of murder. He is not currently a victim of evil, but your actions make him so. You may not commit such an act to bring about another good.

#3: A laboratory has caught fire which contains many fertilized human embryos that are waiting to be implanted so that they may be born. Also in the building is a two-year old girl (presumably the daughter of someone who works there). You are in the unique position where you only have the time and the means to save either the two-year old girl or five of the fertilized embryos from dying in the fire. Obviously you are obligated to save one or the other. Which are you obligated to save? Why?

One is obligated to love your neighbour, though the extent of action that entails is not specified. One should do one’s best to save as many lives as possible keeping one’s own safety in mind.

#4: An individual is about to murder someone right in front of you. You perceive this and realize the only way to stop the murder is to kill the perpetrator. Are you obligated to do this? Are you obligated to do nothing?

One is obligated to love your neighbour, though the extent of action that entails is not specified. One should do one’s best to save an innocent life, keeping one’s own safety in mind. One is permitted to decide to kill an aggressor to save an innocent.

#5: Exact same scenario as #4 except in this case the perpetrator has legal authority to murder and you will face legal punishment if you kill him. The reasons this person has legal authority are bogus and his killing of the individual in front of you will still be the sin of murder. Are you obligated to kill the perpetrator under these circumstances? Are you obligated to do nothing? Does your answer to this question differ from your answer to #5? If so, why?

As for #4, but adding a personal judgement related to the consequences of acting (will more harm than good result?) [NB: I don’t really follow the upshot of the underlined text…]

#6: A doctor is on his way to perform a legal abortion. You are the only person who can stop this from happening, but the only way to do it is by killing the doctor before he performs the abortion. Are you obligated to do this? Are you obligated to do nothing? How does your answer to this question compare to your answers to #4 and #5? If they differ substantially, why?

One is obligated to love your neighbour, though the extent of action that entails is not specified. Any act I propose may only be executed if it would be moral. An act, directed at an aggressor, to defend the life of an innocent (if that is the nature of the act) likely means our Intentions and the Moral Object of the act are good. But what about the consequences (the 3rd font of morality)? My judgement is that the balance of consequences of the act (to violently act against, or even kill the doctor) is likely to be more harm than good, rendering the act immoral.


Awesome wrath of Khan reference!


Are these personal stories of moral dilemmas that you have faced?
I’ll save what I can, however, I cannot pull the switch on the train in #1 because that would be akin to murdering the person(s) in one situation or the other. In #2 I cannot push someone in the way of a train because that would be murder on my part. I would be obligated to save the 2 year old in #3 because I do not know how to handle embryo’s in a protective way. In #4 I would not kill the murderer because I’m not strong enough to overcome someone in a way that I could kill them, I would try to stop them but I could not kill them. In #5 I would do the same as #4 (I just can’t bring myself to kill someone).
I cannot kill the doctor in #6 because of #4.


This is about the 100th thread on these same questions. Did you do a forum search before opening the thread.


I suspect it is the latter. That seems to be the new parlor game among pro-abortion apologistts in CAF . Attacking those who are pro-life as being hypocrites if they don’t support murder charges for women who have abortions and or the killing of abortion doctors


You are correct that the Church would not condone killing the doctor. But, change the hypothetical slightly and the answer would be different. And it is difficult for me to see why it would be different.

Modified Hypo: The doctor has laid a YOUR live baby on the sidewalk and is about to bash its brains out with a sledge hammer. The only way to stop him is to kill him. Would you do it? Are you morally obligated to do it? IWhy would the answer be different merely because the baby is not your own or because the doctor will do the deed behind closed doors? Should the answer be different because the laws of the society condone one form of murder (abortion) but not the other? Would the answer be different if you were a police officer?

CCC 2263 The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not.”

2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:

If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.

CCC 2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.


Post #34 explains the immorality of killing the abortion Doctor. The act will likely cause more harm than good, making it immoral.

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