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 survive from that. The one person that needs all of the drugs is someone that I know and like, David, and the other five being complete strangers. In this example, considering that I know David and not the other five I would feel more obliged to save him instead of the others. Saving five strangers over someone that you know would be completely irrational, this is a prime example of how the numbers never matter.
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 save 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.
Just because of the fact that there are five lives compared to his own does not make their lives anymore important than himself, nor does it compel him to have to save the others because there are more members in the group. 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 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 fair for someone else to give David, the one instead of five others, the dosage in order for him to be saved. So, it is admissible for David and me together to save the one, then it is permissible for me to give the dosage to David. It is tolerable for another person choosing to administer the drug to save the one rather than the five others. Each group, being the one and the five, deserve an equal chance to live. Numbers never matter, death should not be chosen upon solely based off of the fact that one group has more people than the other but because each group has an equal opportunity to live. 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 side with Thomson point of view and think that it is a worse thing for the five to die, rather than the one. Discussing what the worst 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. 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 saving the one individual because of the ‘numbers mattering’ would be completely wrongful and illogical. Taurek’s reasoning versus Thomson’s saying that the number do count is invalid per say that the majority group with 5 people being elderly, not having much time to live regardless of the medicine, and the outlier being a 10 year old boy who has their whole life to live would dismantle Thomson’s argument and prove that the numbers don’t count. 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 to live.