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The “trolley problem” is an ethical dilemma with many variations, but the classic case goes like this: A train is about to hit five people, but you can throw the switch to divert it to another track where it will only hit one.
Faced with this death-or-death thought experiment, what would a toddler do? E.J. Mascicampo, an instructor of moral philosophy, decided to find out.
“We spent part of the first day discussing the trolley problem, which is a frequently used ethical dilemma in discussions of morality. When I returned home that night and was playing trains with my son, I thought it would be interesting to see his response to the trolley problem,” he writes on YouTube.
Let’s see how it turned out.
He starts by moving the lone man to the other side of the track. Ah, that’s so sweet! He doesn’t grasp the parameters of the problem, but his natural inclination is to make sure everyone gets out ali—whoa, wait a minute.
Uh-oh, Nicholas! You killed ’em all and laughed about it! What the hell, kid?!
I guess some toddlers just want to watch the world burn.
“My wife and I are constantly talking with our son about how properly to treat others—so this has been teachable moment both for my class and for our son!” Masicampo writes.
No doubt, no doubt.
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.