Albany Medical College: Alden March Bioethics Institute
This method of comparing benefits is used by economists to judge how much people value certain states of affairs. It’s open to criticism because many people appear to have irrational attitudes toward the small risks of very bad things happening. (That’s why we need legislation requiring people to fasten their seat belts.) Still, in many cases, including the one we are now considering, the answer is clear enough.
Mark T. Hughes | Johns Hopkins | Berman Institute of Bioethics
Suppose your local art museum is seeking funds to build a new wing to better display its collection. The museum asks you for a donation for that purpose. Let’s say that you could afford to give $100,000. At the same time, you are asked to donate to an organization seeking to reduce the incidence of trachoma, an eye disease caused by an infectious micro-organism that affects children in developing countries. Trachoma causes people to slowly lose their sight, typically culminating in their becoming blind between 30 and 40 years of age. It is preventable. You do some research and learn that each $100 you donate could prevent a person’s experiencing 15 years of impaired vision followed by another 15 years of blindness. So for $100,000 you could prevent 1,000 people from losing their sight.
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