In 1967, Philippa Foot asked one of the greatest utilitarian dilemmas of modern philosophy: the trolley question. She set up a scenario where a trolley was hurtling down a track towards five helpless, soon-to-be-flat people. However, she places the subject of the question next to a lever that would divert the trolley towards a section of track with only one soon-to-be-flat person. The question being, is it more ethical to do nothing or divert the trolley?
There is a point to this! According to the West Shore Regional Police Department, a Mustang driver in Pennsylvania’s Wormleysburg Borough put this argument through a practical test back in April 2017. Except, instead of five helpless people, there was a squirrel, and instead of another soon-to-be-squashed person, there was a mini van. Are you beginning to understand the scenario?
It turns out Mustang drivers are moralists, and this particular one could not stand the weight of a (another?) fuzzy death on his conscience. In other words, he hit the van to apparently avoid the squirrel.
Now, we won’t question the validity of the age old, “squirrel made me do it” argument, but there seems to be some extenuating factors. As a side note, we should all remember that Mustang drivers are not known for their somber, sober decision-making skills when behind the wheel of a car. With that in mind, witnesses to the crash allege that the 24-year-old with a heart of gold was driving a bit too fast. Not that that would have anything to do with this case.
Hopefully, he’ll be back on the road in time for his next Cars and Coffee.
This post was originally published on April 18, 2017.