The trolley problem is a realist representation that defines the aesthetic relationship between law and morality. The dilemma has long been used by philosophers to expound on the justification of instinct or intuition in the solving of non-win situations that may result in legal implications. The driver of the tram can either opt to ram the five male prisoners or the innocent girl. There are two dimensions in this dilemma. In one, there is the number angle where five supersedes one and in two, where innocence in the little girl tramps the guilt of the male convicts. There is nothing moral on the waiting accident but the driver of the tram has to act according to the algorithm that gives the least loss of lives. The loss of one child is more acceptable than the loss of five men irrespective of their social status. Moral reasoning dictates that the driver of the tram chooses the track that leads to the innocent little girl as a function of lowering the number of fatalities. Law dictates that the driver ‘lets die’ as opposed to ‘killing’. There is a distinction between law and morals. Legalities should only integrate morals where applicable and of relevance.

There is firm belief within the public and private arms that crime statistics give accurate reflections on social morality. This is a common fallacy, as the numbers do not vividly highlight the dynamicity of human behavior that goes to be considered as of criminal natures. Statistics only mirror activities that of criminal attributes, but do not deeply analyze the acts in terms of reasons, dilemma or consequences. For instance, a republic can legalize the retail sale of alcohol or prostitution, but because of the legalities, there will be no considerations on the criminality of the acts. The two acts have implications that are more negative on the society categorizing them as immoral yet they are legal[1]. Another angle can be identified in the arguments made by legal prosecutors who state that the judicial system decreases the statistics but important to note is that it does not mitigate criminality. This puts the trolley debacle as a two-horse argument between Kantian and Utilitarian perspectives.

Utilitarianism dictates that an agent acts in ways that derive maximum benefits for all within the society[2]. Under such an approach, it is more advisable for the tram driver to ram the mechanical engine towards the five male prisoners. These individuals compared to the girl are a hazard to the society making their eradication beneficial. On the other hand, Kantian viewpoints argue that agents should treat individuals as ends and not means[3]. Under such a viewpoint, the driver of the tram will choose the single innocent girl as ends of structuring the benefits of five. In both approaches, there are no morals, as there is always a fatality. Killing under moral viewpoints is worse than letting to die. This is one of the reasons as to why there is a separation of law and morals as stated by Hart. According to law, letting one die is less implicative than letting five die.

Jurisprudence focuses on the primal concept of rights as associated with the means-end relationship that is fashioned as a process of saving lives. Analyzing the trolley dilemma, the driver wrongs the little girl whose life he sacrifices, but in doing so, he maintains the rights of the five working prisoners. Argumentative, the act by the driver directly infringes the right of the girl not to be killed. By switching the tram to face the little girl, there is no direct infringement of the workers’ rights. In one view, the girl is wronged while in the other, the workers’ rights are infringed. Thomson, a law orient suggests that it is permissible for the tram driver to intervene in the tram selection in order to maximize utility[4]. This is a function captured by saving of the five lives as opposed to the little girl. Important to note is that the act of selection is permissible and not obligatory[5]. The relationship between law and morality necessitates consideration of direct and indirect ends in the structuring of decisions revolving around life.

Consider the dilemma from the angle of the innocent girl and that of the five male prisoners. Suppose the driver of the tram has a gun and opts to shoot the little girl as an act of giving her an early send off against the incoming demise. Argument will be that the act of shooting is impermissible as no actor is given the chance to save him or herself. Equally, if the convicts had a gun and shot the little girl as an act of self-defense, it is also impermissible. This is because the little girl posses no threat to the lives of the workers. In both assumptions, the act of eliminating the girl is direct while the objective is indirect. The act represents morals of impermissible substitution that the law does not support[6]. This adds on the need to have a distinct relationship between law and morals. Morals are laws whereas the legal statutes are not ethics.

The trolley dilemma can only be solved through the concept of right that is applied in complex manners. If the tram driver chooses the girl, he does not threaten the lives of the five convicts and vice versa. The six characters all have equal rights to live and die according to the dilemma. If the agent chooses the girt, he gives the five a chance to run from risk. If the agent chooses the five, he gives the little girl chance to run form risk. There is amoral difference between the two angles. To infringe the life of any person is to take away his right to live. It is not acceptable to justify the demise of one in order to save the lives of five. If the five are saved, argument will be that utility was used as the judgment basis. Ethics dictate that human rights supersede utilities[7]. If a person employs utilities as basis for self-defense, then the act is impermissible. This represents one of the viewpoints where law and morals align.

The existence of law is not fashioned to cover for the moral gap present in our society. According to Thomson, law is of different enquiry irrespective of conformity or assumed social standard[8]. Any law that is in existence should be recognized whether the society approves of it or the text varies from regular approbations. The truth is of abstract nature and does not take into considerations the implications of its release as suggested by morality. Law integrates the use of morals under particular fashions mostly when attempting to maximize social benefit. In circumstances where there is no social benefit as in the trolley debacle, law does not consider morals. The fallacies in morality do not highlight failures in law, as truth is abstract and static in nature. Morals integrate human bias in the way they conceive the concept of command. In its simplistic and static attributes, law acts against human nature structuring the rule of obedience in behavior[9]. The fact that people would make any choice in the trolley debacle highlights how wrong we can be in the application of our moral intuition. Morals are analogous to sciences and therefore insufficient in the establishment of law.

The trolley car problem is represents a dilemma that is proportional to complexities as seen in the relationship between law and morals. The dilemma prompts the scholar to analyze whether moral intuition makes sense in the explanation of right to life. Human nature is subject to the influence of bias making morality inapplicable as the sole determinant of order. In such a scenario, it is permissible to ‘let die’ rather than to ‘kill’ as the law suggests. Therefore, the driver should not choose any track that is not on the intended route. Law integrates the use of logic and mathematics in their derivation establishing the sufficient distinction between it and morality. Ethics are integrated in law to improve the fundamental elements in the legal system. This is because no legal system can be accurately described. Moral utilitarian and Kantian viewpoints are flawed. Killing is only permissible where the victims accept overtly the act.





Bauman, Christopher W., A. Peter McGraw, Daniel M. Bartels, and Caleb Warren. 2014. “Revisiting External Validity: Concerns about Trolley Problems and Other Sacrificial Dilemmas in Moral Psychology”. Social and Personality Psychology Compass. 8, 9, 536-554.

Bruers, Stijn, and Johan Braeckman. 2014. “A Review and Systematization of the Trolley Problem”. Philosophia: Philosophical Quarterly of Israel. 42, 2, 251-269.

Kelman, Mark, and Tamar Admati Kreps. 2014. “Playing with Trolleys: Intuitions about the Permissibility of Aggregation”. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies. 11, 2, 197-226.

Shallow, Charles. 2011. Trolley Problems in Context. Judgment and Decision Making. .6, 7, 593-601.

Thomson, Judith Jarvis. 1985. The trolley problem. Faculty of Law, University of Toronto.

[1] J.J, Thomson. The trolley problem. (1985).

[2] S., Bruers and J, Braeckman. “A Review and Systematization of the Trolley Problem”. (2014).  42. 2.Philosophia: Philosophical Quarterly of Israel. 251-269.

[3] S., Bruers and J, Braeckman. “A Review and Systematization of the Trolley Problem”. (2014). 42. 2.Philosophia: Philosophical Quarterly of Israel. 251-269

[4]J.J, Thomson. The trolley problem. (1985).

[5] M, Kelman and T, Admati Kreps. “Playing with Trolleys: Intuitions about the Permissibility of Aggregation”. (2014.). 11 2. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies. 197-226.

[6] Kelman and Admati (see note 5)

[7] Shallow, Charles. “Trolley Problems in Context”. (2011). 6, 7, Judgment and Decision Making. 593-601.

[8] J.J, Thomson. The trolley problem. (1985).

[9] C. W, Bauman, A. Peter McGraw, D. M. Bartels, and C Warren. “Revisiting External Validity: Concerns about Trolley Problems and Other Sacrificial Dilemmas in Moral Psychology”. (2014). 8. 9.  Social and Personality Psychology Compass. 536-554.


Calculate your order
275 words
Total price: $0.00

Top-quality papers guaranteed


100% original papers

We sell only unique pieces of writing completed according to your demands.


Confidential service

We use security encryption to keep your personal data protected.


Money-back guarantee

We can give your money back if something goes wrong with your order.

Enjoy the free features we offer to everyone

  1. Title page

    Get a free title page formatted according to the specifics of your particular style.

  2. Custom formatting

    Request us to use APA, MLA, Harvard, Chicago, or any other style for your essay.

  3. Bibliography page

    Don’t pay extra for a list of references that perfectly fits your academic needs.

  4. 24/7 support assistance

    Ask us a question anytime you need to—we don’t charge extra for supporting you!

Calculate how much your essay costs

Type of paper
Academic level
550 words

How to place an order

  • Choose the number of pages, your academic level, and deadline
  • Push the orange button
  • Give instructions for your paper
  • Pay with PayPal or a credit card
  • Track the progress of your order
  • Approve and enjoy your custom paper

Ask experts to write you a cheap essay of excellent quality

Place an order