Posted: April 11th, 2022
Philosophy Paper Prompt
“Self-driving” cars hold the promise of being safer and more fuel-efficient than today’s manually driven cars. However, they also introduce some challenging ethical issues. Since accidents will still occur, these cars must be programmed to deal with different types of accident situations. Consider this hypothetical scenario:
One day in the not-too-distant future, you are sitting in your self-driving car cruising down a city street. Suddenly two cars full of passengers in front of you have a mild accident. Your car quickly steers aside to avoid crashing into these vehicles (which likely would have resulted in multiple deaths). However, now your car is careening directly toward a bystander on the sidewalk. There is no time to brake. The car has only two options: (1) hit the bystander, which will likely kill this person, or (2) steer into a wall, which will likely kill you.
In your essay, you should answer the following three questions:
(1) What is hedonistic act-utilitarianism?
(2) What does hedonistic act-utilitarianism imply about how a self-driving car should be programmed for the above kind of situation? Explain why hedonistic act-utilitarianism has this implication.
(3) Is the hedonistic act-utilitarian response the correct ethical response to this type of situation? Provide a justification for your answer. (If you agree with hedonistic act-utilitarianism, then you should anticipate and respond to objections that might be raised.)
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