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The passage below is from a book, Justice, what’s the right thing to do.

I cannot figure out the meaning and role of the underlined “to reconsider.”

Let me tell you what I think.

The sentence have “and” before “to reconsider,” and in a sense of structure “to reconsider” can be connected to “notice the pressure we feel” to make agreement, but this doesn’t make any sense in meaning.

So I think of “to reconsider our judgment about the right thing to do in each case” as independent information. But this also has problem in that it doesn’t make complete sentence with subject and verb present.

Can you help me?

It is not easy to explain the moral difference between these cases—why turning the trolley seems right, but pushing the man off the bridge seems wrong. But notice the pressure we feel to reason our way to a convincing distinction between them—and if we cannot, to reconsider our judgment about the right thing to do in each case.

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"To reconsider" is yoked with "to reason" for the two appositive infinitive clauses of "pressure". This is obscured by the punctuation; the em dash intrudes.

I agree that the meaning is muddy. Are we supposed to notice one pressure and then another one if we can't notice the first one? Of course not, but that is a possible interpretation, and the default one the way I read it. He means "if we cannot" "reason our way".

The sentence could be better, but I would say it is well within the bounds of normal English. The writer is just not very attentive to the mechanics of his writing.
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If you remove some "stuff" between, it is easy to see the relationship between "to reason our way...and to reconsider." Both phrases relate to the verb to feel.
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Thanks a lot, enoon.
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