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.
Read another response by Allen Stairs