Trolley Problem Variant

From: Andy

Sent: Monday, July 13, 2020 11:33 AM

To: walter block <>

Subject: Trolley problem variant

Hi Walter,

Suppose when a man is hiking he sees a button that is remotely connected to two jail cells on another continent. Cell A has 1 innocent person and cell B has 5 innocent people. If the man does nothing, 30 seconds later one of the cells will be flooded with water and everyone in that cell will die. The cell to be flooded will be chosen randomly, each cell with a 50% probability. However if the man hits the button now, the probability that cell A is chosen to be flooded will be increased to two-thirds. If the man hits the button, is he a murderer if cell A ends up being flooded? What if cell B ends up being flooded (even though that only happens with a one-third probability)?

Thanks a lot!



Dear Andy:

Yes, I think he would be a (justified!) murderer. I think I dealt with the same issue in my pubs on the libertarian concentration camp guard:

Block, Walter E. 2009. “Libertarian punishment theory: working for, and donating to, the state” Libertarian Papers, Vol. 1;

Best regards,


Dear :

Best regards,



3:44 am on September 23, 2020