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Taurek, numbers and probabilities

Lawlor, R. (2006) Taurek, numbers and probabilities. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 9 (2). pp. 149-166. ISSN 1572-8447

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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.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2006 Springer. This is an author produced version of a paper subsequently published in Ethical Theory and Moral Practice. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy. The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of Humanities (Leeds) > School of Philosophy (Leeds)
Depositing User: Leeds Philosophy Department
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2007 16:54
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2013 17:04
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10677-005-9004-4
Status: Published
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1007/s10677-005-9004-4
Related URLs:
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3336

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