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By Frowe, Helen

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When she intends to be on the tracks, however, Worker seems to pose a culpable threat to Victim. She is deliberately trying to stop Trolley Driver from saving Victim’s life. But the fact that Worker intends to contribute to the threat to Victim’s life is not what makes it the case that she contributes to that threat. Like Pedestrian, Worker’s role in Victim’s death is the same whether she plays it innocently or responsibly. Passer-By in Richard Norman’s Discovery case is also obstructor, and thus a threat: Discovery: Victim is hiding from Murderer, who wants to kill him.

When the threatening object will kill Victim qua object—when is it the physical mass that threatens Victim’s life—being part of that threatening mass is morally relevant. Since Guard contributes to the trolley’s mass, he contributes to the threat. We might object that the trolley would suffice to kill Victim, without Guard’s additional mass. If the contribution of Guard’s mass doesn’t make a difference to the trolley’s capacity to kill Victim, how can it be relevant? g. 26 Lang points out that individual components of a lethal object will often not be lethal in themselves.

Contributing to the threat can include helping to bring the threat about, or obstructing a valuable escape route of which Victim could avail himself. Pedestrian in Bridge is an example of an indirect lethal threat. Direct lethal threat: A person whose movements, actions, or presence will kill Victim unless someone acts to prevent this. A person counts as a direct threat to Victim if she kills him through the use of a tool, if there is no intervening agency between her actions, movements, or presence and Victim’s death.

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