It’s a classic psychological test. There’s a train on a track. It’s heading towards a group of five people trapped on the track. You’re given a couple options. Watch it happen, or throw the switch track and send the train towards a single person trapped on a different track, saving the original five. What do you do?
It’s called the “trolley problem,” and is considered one of the most famous philosophical questions. The question is asked to entry-level philosophy students. The dilemma is designed to make a clear difference in consequentialism vs. deontology. Consequentialism, according to Google dictionary, is “the doctrine that the morality of an action is to be judged solely by its consequences.” Deontology, says Google, is “the study of the nature of duty and obligation.” You may have even encountered it, in some form, for some other classes you might have taken.
Anyway, I say all this just to lead up to this 2-year-old’s solution to the problem. The boy’s father is a psychology professor, and he illustrated the problem on the boy’s toy train set. Nicholas, the 2-year-old, comes up with a very different solution to the problem.