Cugel wrote:It's an old philosophy saw. posed in many guises: "You are at the points of a railway junction with a runaway train coming your way. Switch left will kill just your two children waiting in a carriage down the siding; right will kill twenty other people on the train coming the other way. Which way do you set the points"?
switch the points as the train passes over, then it derails and stops in time for the oncoming train to stop, and totally misses the carriage with 2 sproggs in who you texted there was free pizza in papa johns outside of the station, while frantically waving your red knickers at the approaching train.
Alas, you cannot derail a train going over points from a single track to one of a pair of branching lines, only when it's going t'other way. Good job you ain't a signalman!
This is all in 1891, of course, as these days an AI does the point switching (if it remembers) and even the train driving. Anytrackup, you cannot text the sprogs although you could try the telegraph. (That telegraph boy dawdles though). They will only sit in the carriage puzzling about what a pizza is.
No one in 1891 would take off and wave their knickers, of any colour! You would be arrested then incarcerated in a loonbin for being highly abnormal, even if you did prevent train crashes. No one wants to go to a Victorian loonbin!
So, there you are still with the quandary. What will you do? Most tend to prefer to answer "nothing" as this is less decisive than "doing something", making it harder for The Beak to assume a crime when you did nothing rather than something. Either way, you will have to live with yourself. This is a condition suffered by many forced by a bad circumstance into pretending they are capable of making rational decisions or even the "right" one because they are clever humans and "know things". The price of hubris, eh?
Cugel, very wary of events and decisions (which I allocate to the ladywife).