There are two positions in Taurek’s “Should the Numbers Count”, and they are that the numbers matter, and that we should save the greater number, or that the numbers never matter. Taurek sides with the side that numbers never matter and that each group should have an equal opportunity. I will argue that numbers do not matter, agreeing with Taurek, just because there are greater numbers of people in a particular group, it does not obligate us to save their members more than the other. In a situation that Taurek brings forth in his writings, he explains a situation of there being six individuals in need of a life-saving drug, one of them need all of it and the other five being able to split the drugs into fifths and all be able to live. The one person that needs all of the drugs is someone that I know and like, David, and the other five being complete strangers. Considering that I know and like David, I would choose to give the drug to him because I am permitted to do so, and also not knowing the others I would feel morally required to save him instead of others, also not having any obligation to save the other five.
So in this case, the numbers don’t count. If that example is not enough to convince that numbers do not count, suppose that the individual having to choose between giving the five to strangers is himself, David. David owns this dosage himself and has to choose between taking all of the dosages for himself or giving the fifths to the other five to same them instead. Now, David is not under any obligation to share his dosage and save anyone but himself and is morally permissible for him to save himself by drinking it all. So, if in compliance with the second argument it is easy to say that if it’s okay for David to drink the dosage for himself by himself to save himself, it is also permissible for him to do so with the assistance of another giving it to him.
In saying so, it is allowed for someone else to give David, the one instead of five others, the dosage in order for the ‘one’ to be saved. So, it is permissible for David and me together to save the one, then it is permissible for me to give the dosage to David, where that is the only way for him to survive. It is tolerable for another person choosing to administer the drug to save the one rather than the five others, with it being the only way that the one member can be saved.
The opposing view would say to save the five, not the one. So, those in favor of saving the majority over the one tend to think that it is a worse thing for the five to die, rather than the one. Then what exactly is the worse thing in this argument of numbers matter? Discussing what the worse thing is could be completely opinionated due to the personal perspective. For example, if one of the six, “…is close to discovering a wonder drug, or is on the verge of negotiating a lasting peace in the world’s perennial spot”(Taurek p.
194). And the other five are just ordinary people on their deathbed then what in this situation would be the worse thing? The person making this decision could be a mother with the child being the member not of majority or a doctor in a contract with a patient. Having this relationship with the individual would bring the individual in a situation to exemplify the requirement to do the just thing, or what is morally obligated to them. In not giving the dosage to the one individual would then be an unjust thing and wrongful to the one in saving the five others which you have no obligation too. Like Taurek states throughout his piece, “Should the Numbers Count”, the numbers never matter.
Solely because there is a greater number in a group than the other, it does not give those members anymore of a preference than the group with fewer members. They all have an equal matter of interest.