Project Details

Wu Song, Bruce Lee, and the Trolley Problem

Wu Song is a major character in the novel of the Water Margin. In the novel, Wu Song has the virtue of being able to act in a straightforward manner in times of desperation. Bruce Lee is probably the most important martial artist. He is the founder of Jeet Kune Do – a school of fighting. He proposes that the traditional, fixed style of fighting will mislead the practitioner of martial arts. The best strategy to fight, he argues, is to adopt a simple and straightforward approach. And the combatant should be prepared to die if he desires to win or survive in a fight. Now, in my propose project, I argue that it is possible to identify a list of virtues from Wu Song and the teaching of Bruce Lee in response to the dilemma arising from the case of the Trolley Problem. The Trolley Problem presents a moral dilemma, and has received wide attention in the field of moral philosophy in the last few decades. In the case, a runaway trolley lost control, and was rushing downhill, threatening the lives of five persons. A bystander could save the five by diverting the trolley onto a sidetrack; however, he would inevitably sacrifice the one person who could not escape from the sidetrack. The mainstream analyses of the Trolley Problem have been focusing on explaining the condition of moral permissibility for the agent to proceed in the scenario. I believe that it has omitted an important phenomenal aspect in the case. – That is the stressing nature of the scenario and the trauma which the bystander may experience if he decides to act to kill the innocent person (in order to save the five). I believe that through my analyses of Wu Song’s moral character in the Water Margin, and of Bruce Lee’s philosophy of combat, I will be able to identify a list of virtues, which explain how an agent can act well in the case of Trolley. This will fill in a gap which has been overlooked by the major discussants of the Trolley Problem in Western analytic moral philosophy.

Commencement Date : 2015/10
Completion Date : 2016/6
Chief Investigator(s) : Dr SIN, Wai Lam William 冼偉林 [IE]





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