Bruce Lee and the trolley problem: An analysis from an Asian martial arts tradition

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Abstract

In this paper, I approach the trolley problem from a different angle, and align the perspective with non-Western models of philosophy as instruction for life. I argue that the trolley problem is an example of an extreme event that requires agents’ instant response; to act well, they must utilize all resources they have within themselves, whether these resources be physical, practical or ethical in nature. This approach, stemming from Asian philosophies, means that the solution of the trolley problem does not lie in any formulation of utilitarian calculus, or affirmation of deontological rights per se. Rather, it lies in the agents’ composure, attained by practicing a range of meditative and physical exercises. We can identify relevant ideas from Bruce Lee’s (1940-1973) philosophy and that of Zen Buddhism. For agents to perform well in the trolley case, they must display a range of virtues that pertains to an ethical model of life. Copyright © 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSport, Ethics and Philosophy
Early online date04 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 04 Jan 2021

Citation

Sin, W. (2021). Bruce Lee and the trolley problem: An analysis from an Asian martial arts tradition. Sport, Ethics and Philosophy. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/17511321.2020.1866055

Keywords

  • The trolley problem
  • Zhixing
  • Bruce Lee
  • Martial arts philosophy
  • Zen Buddhism

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