Thanks! I have only recently started thinking about it in terms of scale so I am mainly basing it on my own intuitions (I am also not a philosopher, so not sure if I would be able to formalize the arguments). However, if I were to try to make a prescriptive version I would probably start by saying that we have obligations to each other (i.e. like parents have obligations to their children), and at each “scale” or population size, some of these obligations cancel out (a state doesn’t have obligations to a particular child but to its children in general). At the largest scale, the only obligation left is to preserve life itself, which is why utilitarianism works so well here.
Ok, that’s a good start. Let me challenge your view a bit. In this framework, how do you choose whether to invest 100$ in your family, or donating them to AMF?
I would say that depends slightly on the circumstances. If for example you are a single parent and need $100 to spend on medicines for your children (even if it is for a non life-threatening condition), I would say that you need to fulfill that obligation before you should consider donating to AMF.
I agree with your observation about scale. It’s interesting to think about where the idea of parents having obligations to their children—or of individuals having a special obligation to their community members/fellow citizens—comes from. I think these might come partially from a notion of neglectedness. My child is not more important, morally, than any other, but I can assume most other children already have parents looking out for them, so my child is counterfactually the most neglected cause (and the most tractable cause among children I could care for).
(and sadly, it’s not true that we can assume most other children already have parents looking out for them. Or at least, for your argument to work you need to replace most other children with all other children)
Neglectedness is usually taken to be the amount of resources going into a problem. You can measure the resources by “parenting time” (what about orphans, by the way?) but in many cases it is not the most important resource.