long time since I studied philosophy. I'm trying to remember an argument / thought experiment that went something like, "lifeboats are placed throughout a ship and not just by the wealthy passenger quarters because it's impossible to guarantee that the wealthy passenger will be able to get to that area if a situation arises where a lifeboat is required."

I think this is related to pragmatic altruism and I'm almost certain it has relatively little to do with lifeboat ethics (which is more about why you shouldn't help the poor).

Like I say, been a while since I looked into this area, but would really appreciate a nudge in the right direction here. Thanks all.


  • Did you mean, "because it's impossible to guarantee that the *non-*wealthy passenger will be able to get to that area"? If they are placed by the wealthy passengers they should be able to get to the lifeboats. – Frank Hubeny Apr 12 at 12:26
  • I think the idea here is that while you could place a minimum of lifeboats in one area in order to cater to wealthy clientelle, it is in the unpredictable, volatile nature of a disaster that one's capabilities could be curtailed (potentially including movement, maybe the loss of a required key, etc...) precluding that person from reaching that particular lifeboat area. Instead, it makes more sense to liberally place lifeboats of a decent standard throughout the vessel, increasing the chances of everyone (and therefore the wealthy person) of making it to a lifeboat, instead of a scant handful. – Reverend Speed Apr 12 at 14:05

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