Hit by the Virtual Trolley: When is Experimental Ethics Unethical?

Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 41 (1):7-27 (2022)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The trolley problem is one of the liveliest research frameworks in experimental ethics. In the last decade, social neuroscience and experimental moral psychology have gone beyond the studies with mere text-based hypothetical moral dilemmas. In this article, I present the rationale behind testing the actual behaviour in more realistic scenarios through Virtual Reality and summarize the body of evidence raised by the experiments with virtual trolley scenarios. Then, I approach the argument of Ramirez and LaBarge (2020), who claim that the virtual simulation of the Footbridge version of the trolley dilemma is an unethical research practice, and I raise some objections to it. Finally, I provide some reflections about the means and ends of trolley-like scenarios and other sacrificial dilemmas in experimental ethics.



External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Trolleys and Double Effect in Experimental Ethics.Ezio Di Nucci - forthcoming - In Christoph Luetge, Hannes Rusch & Matthias Uhl (eds.), Experimental Ethics. Palgrave-Macmillan.
The Trolley Problem and the Dropping of Atomic Bombs.Masahiro Morioka - 2017 - Journal of Philosophy of Life 7 (2):316-337.
Ethical Issues with Simulating the Bridge Problem in VR.Erick Jose Ramirez & Scott LaBarge - 2020 - Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (6):3313-3331.
Medical ethics and the trolley problem.Gabriel Andrade - 2019 - Journal of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine 12.
Kant and the trolley.Samuel Kahn - 2021 - Journal of Value Inquiry (3):1-11.
The Law and Ethics of Virtual Sexual Assault.John Danaher - forthcoming - In Marc Blitz & Woodrow Barfield (eds.), The Law of Virtual and Augmented Reality. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Press.
Thomson's Trolley Problem.Peter Graham - 2017 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 12 (2):168-190.


Added to PP

170 (#94,990)

6 months
69 (#39,842)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Jon Rueda
University of Granada

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

The Normative Insignificance of Neuroscience.Selim Berker - 2009 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 37 (4):293-329.
Universal moral grammar: Theory, evidence, and the future.John Mikhail - 2007 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 11 (4):143 –152.
Why Trolley Problems Matter for the Ethics of Automated Vehicles.Geoff Keeling - 2020 - Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (1):293-307.

View all 14 references / Add more references