Sorry for the late reply. Well, say I’m choosing between the World Food Programme (WFP) and some other charity, and I have $30 to donate. According to WFP, $30 can feed a person for a month (if I remember correctly). If I donate to the other charity, then WFP in its next operation will have $30 less to spend on food, meaning someone who otherwise would have been helped won’t be receiving help. Who that person is, we don’t know. All we know is that he is the person who was next in line, the first to be turned away.
Now, you disagree with this. Specifically you disagree that it could be said of any SPECIFIC person that, if I don’t donate to WFP, that it would be true of THAT person that he won’t end up receiving help that he otherwise would have. And this is because:
1) HE—that specific person—still had a chance of being helped by WFP even if I didn’t donate the $30. For example, he might have gotten in line sooner than I’m supposing he has. And you will say that this holds true for ANY specific person. Therefore, the phrase “he won’t end up receiving help” is not guaranteed.
2) Moreover, even if I do donate the $30 to WFP, there isn’t any guarantee that he would be helped. For example, HE might have gotten in line way to late for an additional $30 to make a difference for him. And you will say that this holds true for ANY specific person. Therefore, the phrase “that he otherwise would have” is also not guaranteed.
In the end, you will say, all that can be true of any SPECIFIC person is that my donation of $30 would raise THAT person’s chance of being helped.
Therefore, in the real world, you will say, there’s rarely a trade-off choice situation between specific people.
I am tempted to agree with that, but two points:
1) There still seems to be a trade off choice situation between specific groups of people: i.e. the group helped by WFP and the group helped by the other charity.2) I think, at least in refugee camps, there is already a list of all the refugees and a document specifying who in specific is next in line to receive a given service/aid. In these cases, we will be faced with a trade off choice situation between a specific individual (who we would be helping if we donated to the refugee camp) and whatever group of people that would be helped by donating to another charity. I wonder what percentage of real life situations are like this.
Moreover, if you’re looking for real life trade off situations between some specific person(s) and some other specific person or specific group, they are clearly not hard to find. For example, you can either help a specific homeless man vs whoever. Or you can help a specific person avoid torture by helping pay off a ransom vs whoever else by helping a charity. Or you can spend fund a specific person’s cancer treatment vs whoever. Etc…
My overall point is that trade off situations of the kind I describe in my paper are very real and everywhere EVEN IF it is true that there are trade off situations of the nature you describe.