“A runaway train is bearing down on five people. You’re standing on the platform next to an enormously fat man. Pushing him into the track would stop the train.
(a)Push the fat man.
(b)Do nothing.” – TranStar personality questions, Prey (2017)
In the game the character is made to answer a few fairly basic questions, but some ask about the moral dilemma of is one life worth sacrificing for the lives of many. It starts with a basic one versus five, then asks about pushing a fat man that isn’t in danger, then gives a choice of jumping yourself while leaving you the option of pushing the fat man.
The fat man has clearly been added to this as a silly joke to be entertaining but the idea is still there. Would you sacrifice one person who is in a kind of danger for many people in a similar kind of danger? Would you sacrifice someone who isn’t in danger for those many people? Or would you sacrifice yourself for these people? (As far as I know all the people are strangers.)
It’s a deep, thought provoking question that very few people know the answer to. You may think you’d be heroic and sacrifice yourself but if you’ve never been in that kind of situation you wouldn’t know. A person’s reaction to this sort of question tells us a lot about psychology of the human condition, how our self-awareness and fear can control our actions; after all, your reaction could be to do nothing and say ‘I was scared, I’m only human’. We wish to preserve our own mortality for as long as possible but how does that mean we’ll treat others?