People on bridge Long Wei/ Xinhua via ZUMA Wire

Altruismo extremo

PRINCETON – Hace más de 40 años, en un ensayo titulado «Hambre, opulencia y moralidad», invité a los lectores a imaginar que caminan junto a un estanque poco profundo cuando ven a un niño pequeño que ha caído en él y parece estar ahogándose. Podrían rescatarlo fácilmente, pero arruinarían sus nuevos y caros zapatos. ¿Estaría mal ignorar al niño y seguir caminando?

Cuando pido al público que responda esa pregunta levantando la mano, suele haber unanimidad en que estaría mal priorizar los zapatos. Luego les señalo que donando a una organización de beneficencia que protege a los niños de los países en desarrollo contra la malaria, la diarrea, el sarampión o la malnutrición, todos podemos salvar la vida de un niño.

Se trata de un argumento simple hasta que nos damos cuenta de que después de salvar a un niño donando a una organización de beneficencia eficaz, tenemos la oportunidad de salvar a otro, y a otro, y a otro. ¿Debemos dejar de gastar en lujos para salvar otra vida y dar hasta que si siguiéramos haciéndolo nos volveríamos tan pobres como aquellos a quienes ayudamos?

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