Hey, look at that

I’ve said in the past that one of the most powerful tools in philosophy is the thought experiment. As it so happens, even the U.S. military seems to agree with me, specifically teaching the classic trolley problem to West Point students.

These cadets are being taught to make moral decisions for themselves, not to follow rules blindly. There are risks in creating a generation of philosopher-­soldiers. One instructor I spoke to, Major Danny Cazier, acknowledged this but told me that “the pay-off is too high to pass on.” He says it is vital that when soldiers are in a terrifying battlefield situation, they don’t lose sight of “the fundamental principles that a person believes in, and which guide his actions. And those principles need to have been conditioned by considerations like the trolley problem.” The cadets agree. They’ll soon head off to perform their duty—the trolley problem is heading to Kandahar.