Some of my friends think that a random process of deciding who should live or die is more important than the lives of those people, because lives should all be valued equally (and a process can ensure approximately random choice).
For example, this would mean it is better to make sure the life rafts are filled by a random selection of women and men and rich and poor and so on, even if that means that half of them drown while you flip the coin.
If lives should be valued equally, then why is a process of choosing between identically valuable things worth more than even one human life?
Also, even if you value this process more than another person’s life, why shouldn’t the person who’s life is at stake’s opinion on their relative value come into it? That is, if we are attempting to follow any ethical system other than egoism (of course your preference is of absolute importance if you are trying to be purely self interested). Try out the veil of ignorance!
For other readers, no this isn’t a purely theoretical debate, I’m just not going to tell you what the context is.