So because I like testing-out paper ideas here...
I'm tinkering around with some variations on Singer's Child in the Pond case, trying to figure out the extents/limits of the obligations we can get (if we think we can get any) out of examples such as these. Specifically, I'm trying to get at just how much we can be obligated to do. So here are the cases I'm playing with.
There's a man drowning in the pond (I'm jettisoning the children bit... too many knowledge/responsibility problems). I'm on the shore, too far away to swim to get him. But there is a vending-machine-type thing next to me that offers two possible rescue-options for people who are drowning in the pond.
(a) For $100 I can have a little device teleported into the drowning man's hand (maybe he's not drowning per-se, but he's clutching to a piece of driftwood and will be drowning shortly). The device has a button on it that, if pressed, will teleport him safely to the shore.
(b) For $500 I can activate a giant crane that will reach out and scoop the man out of the water and carry him to safety.
I have only $500 with me. We can presume I am obligated to do one of these. But am I obligated to do (b) instead of (a)? Or have I discharged my obligation if I pursue (a) instead of (b)?
The same as Case 1 except now I have $600 with me. I opt to send the teleportation-button out to the man and he refuses to push it. He knows it will save him, at no cost or other adverse consequence to him. He just refuses to make the minimal effort required. Am I now obligated to send out the $500 crane?
Identical to Case 1 again (where I have only $500), but instead of a teleportation-button, the $100 sends out a rope that the man can use to pull himself to shore. (Here presume the man physically capable and that I know this.) Have I discharged my obligation if I send out the rope instead of the crane?
Like Case 3 except I have $600 available. I send out the rope and the man refuses to pull himself to shore. Must I now send out the $500 crane?
What if, in all the above cases, I know that the man is remarkably lazy and will quite likely be unwilling to push the button/pull himself to shore? What If I'm certain that he'll be unwilling? In cases 1 and 3 where I can only use one of the methods, must I then opt for the more expensive crane-rescue? In cases 2 and 4 when this comes true, does my foreknowledge change what I'm obligated to do once my expectations are indeed met?
Thanks for all responses in advance...