To the moon, Alice!
March 25, 2010 § 14 Comments
Suppose there is a big rocket race. Several teams compete to win, but only two of those teams are actually viable as winners. It takes about a million pounds of rocket fuel to win, and only those two teams have a practical hope of getting that much fuel.
The way teams get rocket fuel is by soliciting it from individuals. Every individual in the country gets one-tenth of an ounce of rocket fuel – and only one tenth of an ounce. We each get to decide which team gets our tenth-ounce of fuel.
Can I meaningfully influence the outcome of the race with my tenth-ounce of fuel? No.
Does the process of choosing who gets my tenth-ounce of fuel have meaningful effects on me, and on those people who I interact with in doing the choosing? Absolutely.
With that background, if giving my fuel to a team involves remote material cooperation with evil, which effects are most important for me to consider when evaluating whether or not I have a proportionate reason: effects which flow from the outcome of the race, or effects which flow from my own act of giving fuel to a team?