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Michael Munger on How Adam Smith Solved the Trolley Problem

September 18, 2023



In the original version of a now classic thought experiment, five people are about to be killed by a runaway trolley. Would you divert the trolley knowing that your choice will kill a single innocent bystander? Listen as Michael Munger of Duke University argues that Adam Smith gave an answer to this challenge a few hundred years before it was proposed by the philosopher Philippa Foot and brought vividly to life in the miniseries, The Good Place. Along the way, Munger and EconTalk's Russ Roberts discuss effective altruism, the moral claims of Peter Singer, what the trolley problem really tells us, if anything, and how our moral choices differ according to context.