An inventor creates a life-saving drug for disease X, which has no other cure. Worldwide, death by disease X among white people has been eliminated because of his drug; however, the death rate remains at pre-drug levels among non-whites because he has contractually restricted its sale and use to white people.
For non-whites who die from disease X, is this inventor a causal factor in their death?
My friend and I have debated this.
I argue YES. The actions the inventor has taken to restrict the sale of his drug demonstrate intent with full knowledge of the consequences of the actions he has taken. I think his actions are not only causal, but in a world where this medicine is readily available everywhere, he becomes the primary cause of death.
My friend argues NO. The inventor has done nothing with respect to non-whites. There is no causal relationship. Pulling a man from a burning building saves a life, but not doing so doesn't cause a death.
Where I see actions that cause harm, my friend sees something passive, akin to passing a beggar on the street while talking with a friend on the way to lunch. He agrees that if the inventor ended this sales policy that lives would be saved, but insists he isn't causing anything.