From onegoodmove, here’s a pointer to an interesting piece of research on the failure of people’s religion to influence their decisions on a series of contrived moral dilemmas: Morality without religion.
Consider the following three scenarios. For each, fill in the blank with morally “obligatory,” “permissible,” or “forbidden.”
1. A runaway trolley is about to run over five people walking on the tracks. A railroad worker is standing next to a switch that can turn the trolley onto a side track, killing one person, but allowing the five to survive. Flipping the switch is ____________.
2. You pass by a small child drowning in a shallow pond, and you are the only one around. If you pick up the child she will survive and your pants will be ruined. Picking up the child is _________.
3. Five people have just been rushed into a hospital in critical care, each requiring an organ to survive. There is not enough time to request organs from outside the hospital. There is however, a healthy person in the hospital’s waiting room. If the surgeon takes this person’s organs, he will die but the five in critical care will survive. Taking the healthy person’s organs is _________.
What I find especially interesting is that judging by the responses, there exists a rough working consensus as to which answers are “correct,” even among people who presumably are pretty divided on the big moral/religious issues.