Placed in a scenario where you are in control of a train that is set in course to run over and kill 5 people, with the only way of avoiding such a catastrophe being to change the course to the only other available track onto which 1 person will be killed, would you change the course and kill 1, or do nothing and kill 5?
To most this seems obvious, change the course, and kill one, basically saving net lives. However ponder the similarities of the following scenario.
Placed in a scenario where you are in control of 6 people, in a future in which organ transplants are nearly 100% efficient, 5 people are in need of 5 different organs or they will die shortly, and 1 living person has all of their healthy organs, would you harvest the organs of the 1 healthy person to save the lives of the 5 in need of organs?
Well today you certainly wouldn't, because there's a fairly good chance all 5 of them will still be pretty darned unhealthy, but assuming there was an excellent chance they'd recover upon receiving their transplants, it still seems wrong, but when you think about it in the same terms as the first scenario, it seems right.
Regarding the second scenario, Sacrificing ones own organs is not part of the scenario. For two reasons, firstly it's an ethical question, not necessarily having anything to do with the reader, but rather is only asking what is the ethical decision to make in such a case. Secondly, if one person wished to save five specific people, the chances are that not all of their blood types will be compatible. So it would have to be implemented by creating a system of attaining large enough groups of people who can use an adequate amount of organs from one body in order to make the process worth it. Imagine if one life could save even ten or twenty people, then would it be worth it? Think about it, of all the organs one can die from a lack of function, one person could save many. A heart, two lunges, two kidneys, a liver. That's six off the top of my head, and I know relatively nothing about medicine, I imagine there are many more. Given ever increasing advancements in medical technology I imagine such a system could (in sheer numbers of lives at least) work for the better in the not so distant future. That's where ethics come into question, is saving lives worth the loss of security you have in taking your organs for granted?
Time line is a consideration, too. In the case of the organs, our minds are trained to view disease as a progressive death. Some may be less likely to kill an organ donor simply due to a pre-programed notion of "there is something else we can do, someone else, another medicine, an already dead donor, ect.."
In contrast, the train is instantaneous and without even the habitual or imagined hint of compromise. Likewise, disease seems to be a more natural, easier to reconcile event, where tragedy isn't.
What would I do?
-Side-rail the train. The five people inside were going about their day. What the hell is the guy on the tracks doing, anyway? No one spends time on a train track for good purposes....(mostly kidding on that last bit.)
As for the organ transplant? Well, breaking it down to a matter of numbers, there is the issue of quality of life, right? Organ donations aren't a sure bet. The perfectly healthy guy is.
The two scenarios are not similar enough to warrant a contrasting analysis.
The shelter scenario is too unrealistic for my mind to follow. There are too many variables, but I do understand what's being asked. If there is a gun to my head and I had to make the choice, I would selfishly choose myself to die, because death doesn't scare me near as much as living with the guilt of killing the person I love.
As for eating the baby? Eh. I'm one of those people that will hold out until the very last minute. A baby is going to die sooner than a healthy adult. I'll eat it then, after it's died of natural causes. Again, if it came down to a gun to my head, me vs. the baby scenario, I'd pick me. I don't have kids, so it's obviously not my baby, nor do I have the hormone induced natural maternal feelings that come with being pregnant, having kids, ect. Actually, there are very few kids I even LIKE, so that one is a no brainer.
You overlooked several key details in the organ transplant scenario, one being that it is in a future where organ transplants are nearly 100% effective, and that it states the patients will die shortly.
I didn't overlook it. I just don't find 'Nearly' as good enough. (Ok. I did overlook that one. Sorry)
Shortly doesn't equal immediately, either.
Almost isn't a good enough reason for me to kill someone without their consent.
Inevitability now...that's another matter.
I agree with Meta on the first scenario, if you dont want to die get the hell off the tracks.
The organ transplant scenario comes down to survival of the fittest in my opinion. The people who are going to die should not be saved by the organs of one healthy person. I think this is where our technology gets tricky and this might sound harsh but due to our advances in medicine there are a lot of people walking around now that if nature had her way, would have been dead a while ago. I know it sounds horrible but its the truth.