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Would you kill the fat man?

20th June 2019 @ 7:30 pm

QUIDAM Discussion with David Edmonds and Magnus Grimond

A runaway train is racing toward five men who are tied to the track. Unless the train is stopped, it will inevitably kill all five men.  You are standing on a footbridge looking down on the unfolding disaster. However, a fat man, a stranger, is standing next to you: if you push him off the bridge, he will topple onto the line and, although he will die, his chunky body will stop the train, saving five lives. Would you kill the fat man? The question may seem bizarre. But it’s one variation of a puzzle that has baffled moral philosophers for almost half a century and that more recently has come to preoccupy neuroscientists, psychologists, and other thinkers as well.

David Edmonds is a radio feature maker at the BBC World Service. He studied at Oxford University, has a PhD in Philosophy from the Open University, has held fellowships at the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan, and is the author of a number of books on popular philosophy. His book Would you kill the fat man? The Trolley Problem and What Your Answer Tells Us about Right and Wrong was selected as the Editors’ Choice by the New York Times Book Review.

Magnus Grimond is a freelance writer and editor.

Suggested £10 donation / students free


20th June 2019
7:30 pm


St Peter’s Church, Hammersmith
Black Lion Ln
London, W6 9BE United Kingdom