There we were, Mrs. Lapin and I, breakfasting with friends on a rooftop patio overlooking the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. One of our breakfast companions is well connected with Israel’s high tech community and I immediately resolved to share with you what he disclosed to me. But first, by way of introduction, I must ask you a serious question. Ideally, you’d want to wait to read this until you can quietly contemplate the implications of this enigma.
Imagine that you’re walking alongside a train track when you suddenly realize that a runaway train is rapidly bearing down. To your horror, you realize that in the next few seconds the train will hit five workmen on the track, all oblivious to their impending doom.
However, if you quickly pulled the track-switch lever right next to you, you could divert the onrushing train onto a siding where only one workman will be killed. Would you be acting morally and ethically by doing so? Some surveys show that a large majority of respondents believe the greater moral good will be served if they pull the switch to save five people by sacrificing one.