Ska vi låta människor svälta?

Att ens ställa frågan verkar egoistiskt: Ska vi, trots att människor svälter just nu, låta bli att hjälpa dem? Ja, Don Moller menar att det är rimligt att göra det om det innebär att man kan hjälpa fler människor som annars skulle svälta i framtiden. Han anger i ”Should We Let People Starve — For Now?”, publicerad i Analysis (preliminär gratisversion här), bl.a. dessa fyra antaganden:

(1) Future lives count just as much as present lives; preventing future deaths is just as important as preventing present-time deaths.
(2) There will continue to be at-risk people in developing countries whose lives we could save by contributing to aid organizations in the foreseeable future.
(3) The real cost of providing life-saving aid will decrease over time.
(4) There are methods of increasing our wealth (in real terms) over time.

Han presenterar sedan följande argument:

Now, when (1) and (2) are combined with either (3) or (4) we arrive at a case for delaying giving aid. For in that case we will be able to save more people in the future with the money we are now contemplating giving away than we can save right now. Whether the reason is that the same money will go further in the future (assumption 3) or whether I will simply have more money available (assumption 4), either way, my $100 may save X people today, but it will save more in the future. All I need do is place my money in an interest-bearing account and will all proceeds to an aid organization. But of course both (3) and (4) seem fairly plausible, and if both are true, then this argument becomes that much stronger: if only we delay giving money today, we can save more people later by giving more aid that will go further in the future. Giving now thus involves a large (and lethal) opportunity cost. Hence we should let people starve now in order to save more people later, runs the argument.

Argumentet är enkelt och, för mig, övertygande; trots dess enkelhet och rimlighet hade jag inte tänkt på det tidigare. Så när Peter Singer rätteligen uppmanar oss att rädda liv blir frågan inte bara hur utan också när. Kanske om 30 år snarare än idag.

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