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  1. Act Consequentialism and the No-Difference Challenge.Holly Lawford-Smith & William Tuckwell - 2020 - In Douglas W. Portmore (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Consequentialism. Oxford University Press.
    In this chapter we explain what the no-difference challenge is, focusing in particular on act consequentialism. We talk about how different theories of causation affect the no-difference challenge; how the challenge shows up in real-world cases including voting, global labour injustice, global poverty, and climate change; and we work through a number of the solutions to the challenge that have been offered, arguing that many fail to actually meet it. We defend and extend one solution that does, and present a (...)
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  • Racial Profiling And Cumulative Injustice.Andreas Mogensen - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (2):452-477.
    This paper tries to explain why racial profiling involves a serious injustice and to do so in a way that avoids the problems of existing philosophical accounts. An initially plausible view maintains that racial profiling is pro tanto wrong in and of itself by violating a constraint on fair treatment that is generally violated by acts of statistical discrimination based on ascribed characteristics. However, consideration of other cases involving statistical discrimination suggests that violating a constraint of this kind may not (...)
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  • Aggregation and Reductio.Patrick Wu - 2021 - Ethics 132 (2):508-525.
    Joe Horton argues that partial aggregation yields unacceptable verdicts in cases with risk and multiple decisions. I begin by showing that Horton’s challenge does not depend on risk, since exactly similar arguments apply to riskless cases. The underlying conflict Horton exposes is between partial aggregation and certain principles of diachronic choice. I then provide two arguments against these diachronic principles: they conflict with intuitions about parity, prerogatives, and cyclical preferences, and they rely on an odd assumption about diachronic choice. Finally, (...)
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  • Non-Measurability, Imprecise Credences, and Imprecise Chances.Yoaav Isaacs, Alan Hájek & John Hawthorne - forthcoming - Mind:fzab031.
    We offer a new motivation for imprecise probabilities. We argue that there are propositions to which precise probability cannot be assigned, but to which imprecise probability can be assigned. In such cases the alternative to imprecise probability is not precise probability, but no probability at all. And an imprecise probability is substantially better than no probability at all. Our argument is based on the mathematical phenomenon of non-measurable sets. Non-measurable propositions cannot receive precise probabilities, but there is a natural way (...)
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  • Difference-Making and Individuals' Climate-Related Obligations.Holly Lawford-Smith - 2016 - In Clare Hayward & Dominic Roser (eds.), Climate Justice in a Non-Ideal World. pp. 64-82.
    Climate change appears to be a classic aggregation problem, in which billions of individuals perform actions none of which seem to be morally wrong taken in isolation, and yet which combine to drive the global concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) ever higher toward environmental (and humanitarian) catastrophe. When an individual can choose between actions that will emit differing amounts of GHGs―such as to choose a vegan rather than carnivorous meal, to ride a bike to work rather than drive a car, (...)
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  • Structural Injustice and Individual Responsibility.Andrea Sangiovanni - 2018 - Journal of Social Philosophy 49 (3):461-483.
  • Collective Harm and the Inefficacy Problem.Julia Nefsky - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (4):e12587.
    This paper discusses the inefficacy problem that arises in contexts of “collective harm.‘ These are contexts in which by acting in a certain sort of way, people collectively cause harm, or fail to prevent it, but no individual act of the relevant sort seems to itself make a difference. The inefficacy problem is that if acting in the relevant way won’t make a difference, it’s unclear why it would be wrong. Each individual can argue, “things will be just as bad (...)
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  • Small Impacts and Imperceptible Effects: Causing Harm with Others.Kai Spiekermann - 2014 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 38 (1):75-90.
  • The Significance of Tiny Contributions : Barnett and Beyond.Erik Carlson, Magnus Jedenheim-Edling & Jens Johansson - forthcoming - Utilitas.
    In a discussion of Parfit's Drops of Water case, Zach Barnett has recently proposed a novel argument against “No Small Improvement”; that is, the claim that a single drop of water cannot affect the magnitude of a thirsty person's suffering. We first show that Barnett's argument can be significantly strengthened, and also that the fundamental idea behind it yields a straightforward argument for the transitivity of equal suffering. We then suggest that defenders of No Small Improvement could reject a Pareto (...)
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  • Why Should We Try to Be Sustainable? Expected Consequences and the Ethics of Making an Indeterminate Difference.Howard Nye - 2021 - In Chelsea Miya, Oliver Rossier & Geoffrey Rockwell (eds.), Right Research: Modelling Sustainable Research Practices in the Anthropocene. Open Book Publishers. pp. 3-35.
    Why should we refrain from doing things that, taken collectively, are environmentally destructive, if our individual acts seem almost certain to make no difference? According to the expected consequences approach, we should refrain from doing these things because our individual acts have small risks of causing great harm, which outweigh the expected benefits of performing them. Several authors have argued convincingly that this provides a plausible account of our moral reasons to do things like vote for policies that will reduce (...)
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  • Six Theses About Pleasure.Stuart Rachels - 2004 - Philosophical Perspectives 18 (1):247-267.
    I defend these claims: (1) 'Pleasure' has exactly one English antonym: 'unpleasure.' (2) Pleasure is the most convincing example of an organic unity. (3) The hedonic calculus is a joke. (4) An important type of pleasure is background pleasure. (5) Pleasures in bad company are still good. (6) Higher pleasures aren't pleasures (and if they were, they wouldn't be higher). Thesis (1) merely concerns terminology, but theses (2)-(6) are substantive, evaluative claims.
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  • Better Than.Chrisoula Andreou - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (6):1621-1638.
    It is commonly held that rational preferences must be acyclic. There have, however, been cases that have been put forward as counterexamples to this view. This paper focuses on the following question: If the counterexamples are compelling and rational preferences can be cyclic, what should we conclude about the presumed acyclicity of the “better than” relation? Building on some revisionary suggestions concerning acyclicity and betterness, I make a case for hanging on to the presumption that “better than” is acyclic even (...)
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  • How You Can Help, Without Making a Difference.Julia Nefsky - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (11):2743-2767.
    There are many cases in which people collectively cause some morally significant outcome (such as a harmful or beneficial outcome) but no individual act seems to make a difference. The problem in such cases is that it seems each person can argue, ‘it makes no difference whether or not I do X, so I have no reason to do it.’ The challenge is to say where this argument goes wrong. My approach begins from the observation that underlying the problem and (...)
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  • The Good, the Bad, and the Trivial.Chrisoula Andreou - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 169 (2):209-225.
    Dreadful and dreaded outcomes are sometimes brought about via the accumulation of individually trivial effects. Think about inching toward terrible health or toward an environmental disaster. In some such cases, the outcome is seen as unacceptable but is still gradually realized via an extended sequence of moves each of which is trivial in terms of its impact on the health or environment of those involved. Cases of this sort are not only practically challenging, they are theoretically challenging as well. For, (...)
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  • Climate Change and Individual Obligations: A Dilemma for the Expected Utility Approach, and the Need for an Imperfect View.Julia Nefsky - 2021 - In Philosophy and Climate Change. Oxford, UK: pp. 201-221.
    This chapter concerns the nature of our obligations as individuals when it comes to our emissions-producing activities and climate change. The first half of the chapter argues that the popular ‘expected utility’ approach to this question faces a problematic dilemma: either it gives skeptical verdicts, saying that there are no such obligations, or it yields implausibly strong verdicts. The second half of the chapter diagnoses the problem. It is argued that the dilemma arises from a very general feature of the (...)
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  • Regretful Decisions and Climate Change.Rebecca Livernois - 2018 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 48 (2):168-191.
    Climate change has made pressing the question of why we do little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By analogy to the puzzle of the self-torturer, I argue that even if interpersonal and intergenerational conflicts of interest were resolved, we may still end up in a regretful environmental state when we aim to maximize our net benefit derived from polluting activities. This is because a rational agent with transitive preferences making climate change decisions faces incentives to over-pollute. This is caused by (...)
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  • Consequentialism, Climate Harm and Individual Obligations.Christopher Morgan-Knapp & Charles Goodman - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (1):177-190.
    Does the decision to relax by taking a drive rather than by taking a walk cause harm? In particular, do the additional carbon emissions caused by such a decision make anyone worse off? Recently several philosophers have argued that the answer is no, and on this basis have gone on to claim that act-consequentialism cannot provide a moral reason for individuals to voluntarily reduce their emissions. The reasoning typically consists of two steps. First, the effect of individual emissions on the (...)
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  • Transitivity, the Sorites Paradox, and Similarity-Based Decision-Making.Alex Voorhoeve & Ken Binmore - 2006 - Erkenntnis 64 (1):101-114.
    A persistent argument against the transitivity assumption of rational choice theory postulates a repeatable action that generates a significant benefit at the expense of a negligible cost. No matter how many times the action has been taken, it therefore seems reasonable for a decision-maker to take the action one more time. However, matters are so fixed that the costs of taking the action some large number of times outweigh the benefits. In taking the action some large number of times on (...)
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  • Team Reasoning, Framing and Self-Control: An Aristotelian Account.Natalie Gold - 2013 - In Neil Levy (ed.), Addiction and SelfControl.
    Decision theory explains weakness of will as the result of a conflict of incentives between different transient agents. In this framework, self-control can only be achieved by the I-now altering the incentives or choice-sets of future selves. There is no role for an extended agency over time. However, it is possible to extend game theory to allow multiple levels of agency. At the inter-personal level, theories of team reasoning allow teams to be agents, as well as individuals. I apply team (...)
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  • Consequentialism and Collective Action.Brian Hedden - 2020 - Ethics 130 (4):530-554.
    Many consequentialists argue that you ought to do your part in collective action problems like climate change mitigation and ending factory farming because (i) all such problems are triggering cases, in which there is a threshold number of people such that the outcome will be worse if at least that many people act in a given way than if fewer do, and (ii) doing your part in a triggering case maximises expected value. I show that both (i) and (ii) are (...)
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  • The Real Puzzle of the Self-Torturer: Uncovering a New Dimension of Instrumental Rationality.Chrisoula Andreou - 2015 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 45 (5-6):562-575.
    The puzzle of the self-torturer raises intriguing questions concerning rationality, cyclic preferences, and resoluteness. Interestingly, what makes the case puzzling has not been clearly pinpointed. The puzzle, it seems, is that a series of rational choices foreseeably leads the self-torturer to an option that serves his preferences worse than the one with which he started. But this is a very misleading way of casting the puzzle. I pinpoint the real puzzle of the self-torturer and, in the process, reveal a neglected (...)
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  • Temptation, Resolutions, and Regret.Chrisoula Andreou - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (3):275-292.
    Discussion of temptation has figured prominently in recent debates concerning instrumental rationality. In light of some particularly interesting cases in which giving in to temptation involves acting in accordance with one’s current evaluative rankings, two lines of thought have been developed: one appeals to the possibility of deviating from a well-grounded resolution, and the other appeals to the possibility of being insufficiently responsive to the prospect of future regret. But the current appeals to resolutions and regret and some of the (...)
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  • No Free Lunch: The Significance of Tiny Contributions.Zach Barnett - 2018 - Analysis 78 (1):3-13.
    There is a well-known moral quandary concerning how to account for the rightness or wrongness of acts that clearly contribute to some morally significant outcome – but which each seem too small, individually, to make any meaningful difference. One consequentialist-friendly response to this problem is to deny that there could ever be a case of this type. This paper pursues this general strategy, but in an unusual way. Existing arguments for the consequentialist-friendly position are sorites-style arguments. Such arguments imagine varying (...)
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  • Decision Theory.Johanna Thoma - 2019 - In Richard Pettigrew & Jonathan Weisberg (eds.), The Open Handbook of Formal Epistemology. PhilPapers Foundation. pp. 57-106.
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