Gregory S. Kavka Response Paper

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Felix Gonzalez
Philosophy 2
April 19, 2011
Reading Response 3
Gregory S. Kavka believes that the numbers should count in contrast to John Taurek’s view that numbers should not count. Kavka first states that in both scenarios where an individual owns the medicine and where a friend owns the medicine but is friends with the patient that needs the medicine, is permissible that they may take the medicine rather then giving the medicine to the five patients. Kavka distinguishes that these two cases do not prove that the numbers should not count because how could someone convince a patient that requires the full medication to give it up in order for the survival of five different strangers and his death. In the other scenario, if a patient has preference (family member, close friend) then is also permissible to give the medicine to the one other than the five, in which these scenarios do not state that the numbers shouldn’t count. If all patients are strangers, flipping a coin to determine who survives, giving each person an equal opportunity to live is the fairest manner to deal with the scenario according to Taurek. Kavka argues for example that if is where to happen where five patents need to medication versus four patients, flipping a coin would not suffice because if the four patients that need only one fifth of the medication would waste one fifth, therefore, throwing away that one-fifth is permissible according to Taurek. Another argument states that if a person has the choice to pick between five headaches then one headache of the same intensity, the person would pick one headache. Also, a person were to choice whether five people die rather than one person to die, the individual would rather pick the one person to die, therefore the numbers should count.
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