That's a one of the best examples to the problem presented in The Dark Knight by Heath Ledger's Joker to two ships with explosives. It could equally be considered a prisoner's dilemma, and more so a pointless exercise as it is suggested Joker truly believes both sides in this social experiment will blow each other up. If you're unfamiliar with the exchange it's best you just watch it yourself. The solution solved is not traditional, it's the stuff out of a superhero movie based on a comic which tries to have some realism but in the end is just escapist fantasy. That doesn't take away the problem inherent and putting yourself say in one of those boats, much like you could be on one of those trolleys. Would you do nothing which will cause death? Would you do something which will cause death? Is one death worth more or less then another? I say unto you again... what might be right for you, may not be right for some. I'll twist it further, what might be right some, may not be right for all. The world don't beat to the sound of just one drum, if it did we'd fall into the problems some folks do all the time. Justice wears a blindfold for a reason, she knows justice doesn't exist.
The Dark Knight presents a second trolley car problem when he ties up Harvey Dent and Vikki Vale in two locations far from each other with probable death for whomever Batman doesn;t save. This leads to the creation of Two-Face so it's less thrilling in the problem as Dent didn't die and in the end only Joker dies... a victim of another trolley car problem.
Here's a link to an edited together clip of the boat scenario:
When one thinks about trolleys though, they if they're anything like me think about another problem. The one the entire trolley corporations felt nationwide in the 40s as street cars became less of a thing with the urban legends and truths in General Motors attempts to destroy all street cars in an bid to monopolize on other types of mobile transportation. The crux of this widespread issue found itself explored deeply in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. While the film is first and foremost an adaptation of a book about cartoons and humans living together, the original book is a simple murder mystery in modern times (well modern to the 80s), while the film clearly takes place in 1940s California with the truth behind the murders all tied into the purchasing of trolley lines to dismantle their use and build a freeway straight through Toontown. This is exactly what happened in Oakland back then. There was no Toontown, but the Red Car was real and it was systemically bought and sold off and became the L.A. Freeway. That is a trolley problem if I ever saw one. It even does in a ways reflect back to the moral question of transportation versus money versus the many to the few. While a cable car system in LA would be quite nice, especially as cities like San Diego and San Francisco rely on them heavily still today, one wonders how Hollywood would've flourished or not flourished as the boon town it did if it didn't become a town where one better have a car because public transportation isn't the best. Not that L.A. Has NO public transportation, but would trolleys help or fix the problem. We'll never know, that problem was solved by having no trolleys.
Here's Judge Doom explaining his plan:
Now my only question is if Roger Rabbit was presented with Joker's social experiment how would he respond? Probably with a few jokes and asking someone else what they thought.
written for therealljidol Season 10-Week 9-"The Trolley Problem"