Shineups for Resource Allocation


The Survival Lottery

“[E]veryone [will] be given a sort of lottery number. Whenever doctors have two or more dying patients who could be saved by transplants, and no suitable organs have come to hand through ‘natural’ deaths, they can ask a central computer to supply a suitable donor. The computer will then pick the number of a suitable donor at random and he will be killed so that the lives of two or more others may be saved” (p. 400).

“ … a programme could … be designed for the computer that would ensure the maintenance of whatever is considered to be an optimum age distribution throughout the population” (p. 400).

“ … [We can] concede one exception to the universal application of [this] scheme. … it would be unfair to allow people who have brought their misfortune on themselves to benefit from the lottery … ” (p. 401).

Person Y: 23 years old, needs heart, otherwise healthy.
Person Z: 26 years old, needs lungs, otherwise healthy.
Person R: 24 years old, needs liver, otherwise healthy.
Person S: 27 years old, needs kidneys, otherwise healthy.

Person A: 25 years old, perfectly healthy, has good heart, good lungs, good kidney, and good liver.

Benefits of Instituting the Survival Lottery:
1. More Lives Are Saved
2. Average Lifespan Is Increased
3. Society Is More Just

Some Objections to the Survival Lottery:

1. Person A is innocent, so it would be wrong to kill him
2. Desire for Security

“Harm to an individual that arises because the individual has an irrational belief has a different moral status from harm that is not dependent on the presence of an irrational belief, and that, in particular, the possibility of the former sort of harm should not be taken as morally constraining others. The responsibility for such harm should, instead, be assigned to the individual who has the irrational belief, and the only obligation that falls on others is to point out to the person in question why the belief is an irrational one.” (Tooley, 1998)

3. Respect for Individuality
4. Playing God
5. Terror and Distress to Victims
6. Practical Difficulties