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Title: Trolley Problems
Fandom: Harry Potter
Prompt: #564 - Trolley
Warnings: N/A
Rating: K
Summary: Hermione and Harry are having a discussion about ethical dilemmas, when Sirius interrupts the conversation.


“So, would you sacrifice the one person to save the five, or would you not doing anything? And no, Harry, you can’t choose to sacrifice yourself or use magic to fix it,” Hermione asked.

Before Harry could answer, Sirius popped his head through the door. “Do I want to know what you all are discussing?”

“Trolley problems,” Harry said, looking at Hermione.

“And what are trolley problems?” Sirius asked.

“Do you really want to know, or are you just asking to be polite? Because Hermione will talk forever if you give her a chance.” Harry dodged the swat as Hermione tried to hit him.

Sirius laughed. “I’m interested. Besides, you can either explain it to me or you can explain it to Molly when she hears you all talking about sacrificing people. I’m assuming they’re a Muggle thing, but Molly will probably jump to the idea that you’re all talking about dark magic.”

“Why do you assume they’re a Muggle thing, if she’d think they’re dark magic?” Hermione frowned as she asked.

“I grew up in a dark family. There’s very few self-sacrifice options involved in casting it, it tends to be more killing everybody else while trying to avoid being tortured yourself. Self-sacrifice tends to be unpopular with dark wizards,” Sirius said. “So, what are trolley problems?”

“That makes sense,” Harry said.

Hermione was already talking over him, causing Harry to grin. “Trolley problems are a type of ethics thought problem where you try to figure out what the most ethical option is. They’re named after a common setup of a runaway trolley that is continuing down a set of train tracks, where on one side there are five people tied to the tracks, however there’s a switch that will allow you to keep them from run over and killed. The dilemma is that on the other track that the switch will force the trolley onto there’s a single person tied to the tracks. Some people believe that by pulling the switch they would be responsible for the single death whereas they are not responsible if they do nothing. Other people feel it’s worse to allow the five people to die and would instead kill the one person.”

Harry shrugged. “And Hermione is annoyed that I keep trying to use magic or jump on the tracks to untie the one person so nobody has to die.”

“Harry,” Hermione said, “is missing the point of the exercise.”

Sirius laughed. “He does have a point, though there’s problems like that in the wizard world too where magic can’t solve them.”

“There are?” Hermione asked.
Sirius continued on without explaining. “But it seems to me that you can look at it instead as though there’s no correct answer, but rather two sets of bad answers where either way most people are going to suffer because of their choice regardless.”

“Is this an attempt to make me feel better about not being able to save everyone?” Harry muttered.

Sirius laughed. “I would be a hypocrite if I told you not to ever wonder, though it’s probably not good for you to think about it too much. No, I’m just saying that there’s often no good choice.”

Hermione and Harry both nodded. “Can you tell me more about the wizarding version of the dilemmas? How do they differ from the Muggle ones? Are they related to the Principal Exceptions of Gamp’s Law, or are they problems where the wizard or witch has lost their wand and cannot perform any magic?”

Hermione looked ready to continue on without pausing, but Sirius held up his hand. “Remus would be better able to explain the details than I can, though I believe there’s a book somewhere in this house that you can read as well, if we can find it.”

“Well, let’s find it then,” Hermione said, grabbing Harry’s hand and dragging him up.

Harry groaned but followed her out the door as Sirius led the way, still laughing.

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