(Original post by NYU2012)
I do not subscribe to Taurek's views, I was merely stating that such arguments exist.
However, in the case of Taurek, he would say that the numbers alone, all else being equal, do not matter.
If you're familiar with Judith Jarvis Thomson's Trolley Problem
, then suppose that the trolley can either run over 1 person, or 10 people -- Taurek would say that it doesn't matter which option one chooses because the number of people does not matter.
It's a bit of complicated argument for some people to understand but, essentially, it goes something like this: Each individual person has an equal right to life. To make this more simple, let's say each person has 1 right to life.
On the one side, the one person has 1 right to life.
On the other side, each of the ten people has 1 right to life.
Now, most people are inclined to say that the side with ten people has 10 rights to life -- But now you've added together each individuals right to life. According to Taurek, you've done something very strange because if each individual has an equal
right to life, why are you, essentially, adding together their rights to life and stating that the ten have a greater
right than the one? That doesn't make sense because the right to life is equal
for all of the 11 people involved.
This explanation is weak at best, but it's not a very easy concept to attempt to portray over a short online post -- it's even difficult to attempt to discuss or lecture about due to some of the more 'annoying' nuances. But, this is the best I can do.
If you're genuinely interested, you can see his paper "Should the Numbers Count?"