The Trolley Question


You have a choice about the rail you ride.
Ahead you see a crowd, so do you switch
to force the trolley on the shunt beside,
where one will surely die? Now tell me: which?

It doesn’t matter what or who will steer –
the answer is unpopular but clear.
You cannot choose the shunt and drive to kill.
No end can justify that act of will.

And if you complicate the question thus –
the one alone’s no person you have met;
the crowd contains your own adored cadet –
I have to say you can’t be serious.
Of course I’d spare my baby from the threat,
but that’s emotion owing reason debt.

(Pushkin Sonnet)

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