Princeton University Library Catalog

The Right to be Left Alone as a Moral Heuristic

Evans, Michael [Browse]
Senior thesis
Osherson, Daniel [Browse]
Hasson, Uri [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Psychology [Browse]
Class year:
42 pages
Restrictions note:
Walk-in Access. This thesis can only be viewed on computer terminals at the Mudd Manuscript Library.
Summary note:
The trolley dilemmas, as proposed by Philippa Foot (1967) and Judith Thomson (1985), are two moral dilemmas that involve making a decision about whether to kill one person to save five. Although the consequences of the dilemmas are identical, they produce divergent responses when people are asked to make the decision. To date, two significant moral principles have emerged that offer some explanation into this divergence of responses between the two dilemmas, the doctrine of the double effect and the contact principle. This paper proposes an alternative moral principle, rooted in Supreme Court Justice Brandeis’s writings, that considers the victim’s level of involvement and innocence in a dilemma, as a partial explanation of the divergence observed between the two dilemmas. The paper attempts to test whether the level of involvement of the characters is a heuristic that plays a role in the moral evaluation process.