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Lawlor, R (2006)
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects:
In his paper, “Should the Numbers Count?" John Taurek imagines that we are in a position such that we can either save a group of five people, or we can save one individual, David. We cannot save David and the five. This is because they each require a life-saving drug. However, David needs all of the drug if he is to survive, while the other five need only a fifth each.Typically, people have argued as if there was a choice to be made: either numbers matter, in which case we should save the greater number, or numbers don't matter, but rather there is moral value in giving each person an equal chance of survival, and therefore we should toss a coin. My claim is that we do not have to make a choice in this way. Rather, numbers do matter, but it doesn't follow that we should always save the greater number. And likewise, there is moral value in giving each person an equal chance of survival, but it doesn't follow that we should always toss a coin.In addition, I argue that a similar approach can be applied to situations in which we can save one person or another, but the chances of success are different.
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    • Mulgan, T., The Demands of Consequentialism, Oxford University Press, 2001.
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    • Taurek, J., Should the numbers count? Philosophy and Public Affairs 6 (1977), pp. 293-316.
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