An overwhelming majority of students polled picked (a). Here's an argument. In Cook, it seems intuitively that Plum has a more stringent duty to assist Peacock than to assist Mustard. If Plum’s duty to Peacock was just some prima facie duty of beneficence, it would be difficult to see why the duty to Peacock is more stringent. It is tempting to think that Plum’s duty is no mere duty of beneficence. It seems it must be some kind of reparative duty and that the reparative duties do not depend on culpability or fault for the commission of the initial wrong.
Is this right? Is the reason that the duty to Peacock is more stringent is that Plum is righting some past wrong of hers by assisting Peacock?
[This is the poll from the previous post. Polling is still open.]
Cook. Peacock just moved into the apartment next to Plum and to welcome her, Plum cooked her dinner. She did not realize this at the time, but the mushrooms she used in making her dinner were poisonous. (So far as this is possible, imagine that she is not culpable or blameworthy for her ignorance. She used a field guide for distinguishing safe from unsafe mushrooms, but it contained a few typos.) Plum has on hand the stuff to give people who eat poisoned mushrooms, but only enough for one person. It just so happens that her other neighbor, Mustard, went out picking mushrooms. He picked poisonous mushrooms for himself and put them into his salad. Now, he and Peacock are equally sick and Plum can help only one. Pick the best answer.
(a) She has a stronger duty to help Peacock first because she poisoned her.
(b) She has a stronger duty to help Mustard first.
(c) She should help someone but it should not matter who she helps first.