If someone organizes a charity to gather 50,000 USD to save a kid from a rare disease, I’m all for it. Even though that same amount could help or save a few people if invested more effectively. Screw effectiveness! A life is priceless!
I am not a fan of utilitarism at all. I don’t care about arithmetically maximizing a well-being formula. These are human beings we’re talking about.
But when the amount is as huge as 2 million USD… I start feeling like a threshold has been crossed. I feel like instead of saving a single kid, that money could save hundreds or thousands of lives, and I wonder why that kid is worth so many deaths.
It’s like the trolley problem with 1 rare-disease-kid in one track, and hundreds of innocents in the other track. And everybody around me is choosing to save the child. And I can empathize with their choice, but it makes me feel uneasy.
Of course I don’t oppose this specific charity. If saving my son’s life costed 2 million, I would disregard these feelings and start campaining right away.
But from an outsider’s perspective, I feel weird about it. And I have a hard time articulating why. Can someone help me understand what I’m feeling?