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Headaches, Lives and Value

Utilitas 21 (1):36 (2009)

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  1. Punishment, Proportionality, and Aggregation.Kimberly Kessler Ferzan - 2021 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 15 (3):481-494.
    Criminal theorists struggle to account for the “totality principle”—the idea that no matter how many small crimes you commit, your punishment should not exceed that for a more serious offense. Andrew Ashworth, for instance, argues that “overall proportionality” should be preserved but that this is a “pragmatic” solution. This paper argues that a retributivist can accept overall proportionality without abandoning her retributivism. I offer two lines of defense. The first is to show that the unit that we are aggregating may (...)
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  • On the Possibility of Limited Weighing of Lives.Daniel Ramöller - 2020 - Dissertation, Stockholm University
    This thesis discusses the possibility of limited moral trade-offs between different people’s welfare. In chapter 2, I introduce the two central limited trade-off conditions. First, according to minimal infinite superiority, significantly benefiting one person matters more than slightly benefiting each of any number of better-off people. Second, according to minimal finite superiority, significantly benefiting many people matters more than slightly benefiting one person. I consider both axiological and deontic interpretations of these conditions. However, I explain why none of the simple (...)
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  • Axiological Absolutism and Risk.Seth Lazar & Chad Lee-Stronach - 2019 - Noûs 53 (1):97-113.
    Consider the following claim: given the choice between saving a life and preventing any number of people from temporarily experiencing a mild headache, you should always save the life. Many moral theorists accept this claim. In doing so, they commit themselves to some form of ‘moral absolutism’: the view that there are some moral considerations that cannot be outweighed by any number of lesser moral considerations. In contexts of certainty, it is clear what moral absolutism requires of you. However, what (...)
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  • Totalism Without Repugnance.Jacob M. Nebel - 2022 - In Jeff McMahan, Tim Campbell, James Goodrich & Ketan Ramakrishnan (eds.), Ethics and Existence: The Legacy of Derek Parfit. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 200-231.
    Totalism is the view that one distribution of well-being is better than another just in case the one contains a greater sum of well-being than the other. Many philosophers, following Parfit, reject totalism on the grounds that it entails the repugnant conclusion: that, for any number of excellent lives, there is some number of lives that are barely worth living whose existence would be better. This paper develops a theory of welfare aggregation—the lexical-threshold view—that allows totalism to avoid the repugnant (...)
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  • Mere Addition and the Separateness of Persons.Matthew Rendall - 2015 - Journal of Philosophy 112 (8):442-455.
    How can we resist the repugnant conclusion? James Griffin has plausibly suggested that part way through the sequence we may reach a world—let us call it “J”—in which the lives are lexically superior to those that follow. If it would be preferable to live a single life in J than through any number of lives in the next one, then it would be strange to judge K the better world. Instead, we may reasonably “suspend addition” and judge J superior, as (...)
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  • The Aggregation Problem for Scanlonian Contractualism: An Exploration of the Relevance View, Mixed Solutions, and Why Scanlonian Contractualists Could Be, and Perhaps Should Be, Restricted Prioritarians.Aart Van Gils - 2019 - Dissertation, University of Reading
    In this thesis, I discuss the aggregation problem for T. M. Scanlon’s “contractualism”. I argue that Scanlonian contractualists have the following two options when it comes to the aggregation problem. First, they can choose to limit aggregation directly via a specific version of the Relevance View, “Sequential Claims-Matching”. Second, Scanlonian contractualists can adopt a so-called “mixed solution” of which I propose a specific version. My mixed solution does not limit aggregation. Rather, it either avoids some of the counterintuitive results in (...)
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  • Aggregation, Partiality, and the Strong Beneficence Principle.Dale Dorsey - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 146 (1):139 - 157.
    Consider the Strong Beneficence Principle (SBP): Persons of affluent means ought to give to those who might fail basic human subsistence until the point at which they must give up something of comparable moral importance. This principle has been the subject of much recent discussion. In this paper, I argue that no coherent interpretation of SBP can be found. SBP faces an interpretive trilemma, each horn of which should be unacceptable to fans of SBP; SBP is either (a) so strong (...)
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  • Aggregation, Balancing, and Respect for the Claims of Individuals.Bastian Steuwer - 2021 - Utilitas 33 (1):17-34.
    Most non-consequentialists “let the numbers count” when one can save either a lesser or greater number from equal or similar harm. But they are wary of doing so when one can save either a small number from grave harm or instead a very large number from minor harm. Limited aggregation is an approach that reconciles these two commitments. It is motivated by a powerful idea: our decision whom to save should respect each person who has a claim to our help, (...)
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  • Prudence and Past Selves.Dale Dorsey - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (8):1901-1925.
    An important platitude about prudential rationality is that I should not refuse to sacrifice a smaller amount of present welfare for the sake of larger future benefits. I ought, in other words, to treat my present and future as of equal prudential significance. The demands of prudence are less clear, however, when it comes to one’s past selves. In this paper, I argue that past benefits are possible in two ways, and that this fact cannot be easily accommodated by traditional (...)
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  • How to Allocate Scarce Health Resources Without Discriminating Against People with Disabilities.Tyler M. John, Joseph Millum & David Wasserman - 2017 - Economics and Philosophy 33 (2):161-186.
    One widely used method for allocating health care resources involves the use of cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) to rank treatments in terms of quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) gained. CEA has been criticized for discriminating against people with disabilities by valuing their lives less than those of non-disabled people. Avoiding discrimination seems to lead to the ’QALY trap’: we cannot value saving lives equally and still value raising quality of life. This paper reviews existing responses to the QALY trap and argues that all (...)
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  • The Sufficientarian Alternative: A Commentary on Setting Health-Care Priorities.Jay Zameska - 2021 - Diametros 18 (68):46-59.
    In this commentary on Torbjörn Tännsjö’s Setting Health-Care Priorities, I argue that sufficientarianism provides a valuable perspective in considering how to set health care priorities. I claim that pace Tännsjö, sufficientarianism does offer a distinct alternative to prioritarianism. To demonstrate this, I introduce sufficientarianism and distinguish two forms: Tännsjö’s “weak sufficientarianism” and an alternative strong form of sufficientarianism that I call “revised lexical sufficientarianism.” I raise a problem for Tännsjö’s sufficientarianism, and advocate for the revised view on this basis. I (...)
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  • One-by-One: Moral Theory for Separate Persons.Bastian Steuwer - 2020 - Dissertation, London School of Economics
    You and I lead different lives. While we share a society and a world, our existence is separate from one another. You and I matter individually, by ourselves. My dissertation is about this simple thought. I argue that this simple insight, the separateness of persons, tells us something fundamental about morality. My dissertation seeks to answer how the separateness of persons matters. I develop a precise view of the demands of the separateness of persons. The separateness of persons imposes both (...)
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  • Morality Under Risk.Chad Lee-Stronach - 2019 - Dissertation,
    Many argue that absolutist moral theories -- those that prohibit particular kinds of actions or trade-offs under all circumstances -- cannot adequately account for the permissibility of risky actions. In this dissertation, I defend various versions of absolutism against this critique, using overlooked resources from formal decision theory. Against the prevailing view, I argue that almost all absolutist moral theories can give systematic and plausible verdicts about what to do in risky cases. In doing so, I show that critics have (...)
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  • Actualism, Possibilism, and the Nature of Consequentialism.Yishai Cohen & Travis Timmerman - 2020 - In Douglas W. Portmore (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Consequentialism. New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
    The actualism/possibilism debate in ethics is about whether counterfactuals of freedom concerning what an agent would freely do if they were in certain circumstances even partly determines that agent’s obligations. This debate arose from an argument against the coherence of utilitarianism in the deontic logic literature. In this chapter, we first trace the historical origins of this debate and then examine actualism, possibilism, and securitism through the lens of consequentialism. After examining their respective benefits and drawbacks, we argue that, contrary (...)
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  • Whole-Life Welfarism.Ben Bramble - 2014 - American Philosophical Quarterly 51 (1):63-74.
    In this paper, I set out and defend a new theory of value, whole-life welfarism. According to this theory, something is good only if it makes somebody better off in some way in his life considered as a whole. By focusing on lifetime, rather than momentary, well-being, a welfarist can solve two of the most vexing puzzles in value theory, The Badness of Death and The Problem of Additive Aggregation.
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  • Are Indirect Benefits Relevant to Health Care Allocation Decisions?Jessica Du Toit & Joseph Millum - 2016 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 41 (5):540-557.
    When allocating scarce healthcare resources, the expected benefits of alternative allocations matter. But, there are different kinds of benefits. Some are direct benefits to the recipient of the resource such as the health improvements of receiving treatment. Others are indirect benefits to third parties such as the economic gains from having a healthier workforce. This article considers whether only the direct benefits of alternative healthcare resource allocations are relevant to allocation decisions, or whether indirect benefits are relevant too. First, we (...)
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  • Still Lives for Headaches: A Reply to Dorsey and Voorhoeve.Julius Schönherr - 2018 - Utilitas 30 (2):209-218.
    There is no large number of very small bads that is worse than a small number of very large bads – or so, some maintain, it seems plausible to say. In this article, I criticize and reject two recently proposed vindications of the above intuition put forth by Dale Dorsey and Alex Voorhoeve. Dorsey advocates for a threshold marked by the interference with a person's global life projects: any bad that interferes with the satisfaction of a life project is worse (...)
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  • Equality-Tempered Prioritarianism.Dale Dorsey - 2014 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 13 (1):45-61.
    In this paper, I present and explore an alternative to a standard prioritarian axiology. Equality-tempered prioritarianism holds that the value of welfare increases should be balanced against the value of equality. However, given that, under prioritarianism, the value of marginal welfare benefits decreases as the welfare of beneficiaries increases, equality-tempered prioritarianism holds that the intrinsic value of equality will be sufficient to alter a prioritarian verdict only in cases in which welfare benefits are granted to the very well-off. I argue (...)
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  • Headaches for Epistemologists.Brian Talbot - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
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  • Partial Aggregation in Ethics.Joe Horton - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (3):1-12.
    Is there any number of people you should save from paralysis rather than saving one person from death? Is there any number of people you should save from a migraine rather than saving one person from death? Many people answer ‘yes’ and ‘no’, respectively. The aim of partially aggregative moral views is to capture and justify combinations of intuitions like these. These views contrast with fully aggregative moral views, which imply that the answer to both questions is ‘yes’, and with (...)
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  • Aggregation with Constraints.Korbinian Rüger - 2020 - Utilitas 32 (4):454-471.
    Utilitarianism is often criticized because of its reliance on the interpersonal aggregation of harms and benefits. However, since the rejection of all forms of interpersonal aggregation strikes most people as implausible, some critics of utilitarianism have proposed theories of Limited Aggregation. These occupy the middle ground between fully aggregative and non-aggregative views. Recently, Limited Aggregation has been criticized for having counterintuitive implications that seem even worse than the counterintuitive implications of fully aggregative and non-aggregative views it tried to escape. I (...)
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  • Non-Transitive Better Than Relations and Rational Choice.Anders Herlitz - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (1):179-189.
    This paper argues that decision problems and money-pump arguments should not be a deciding factor against accepting non-transitive better than relations. If the reasons to accept normative standpoints that entail a non-transitive better than relation are compelling enough, we ought to revise our decision method rather than the normative standpoints. The paper introduces the most common argument in favor of non-transitive better than relations. It then illustrates that there are different ways to reconceptualize rational choice so that rational choice is (...)
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  • Relevance and Non-Consequentialist Aggregation.J. Paul Kelleher - 2014 - Utilitas 26 (4):385-408.
    Interpersonal aggregation involves the combining and weighing of benefits and losses to multiple individuals in the course of determining what ought to be done. Most consequentialists embrace thoroughgoing interpersonal aggregation, the view that any large benefit to each of a few people can be morally outweighed by allocating any smaller benefit to each of many others, so long as this second group is sufficiently large. This would permit letting one person die in order to cure some number of mild headaches (...)
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  • Justice, Constructivism, and The Egalitarian Ethos.A. Faik Kurtulmus - 2010 - Dissertation, University of Oxford
    This thesis defends John Rawls’s constructivist theory of justice against three distinct challenges. -/- Part one addresses G. A. Cohen’s claim that Rawls’s constructivism is committed to a mistaken thesis about the relationship between facts and principles. It argues that Rawls’s constructivist procedure embodies substantial moral commitments, and offers an intra-normative reduction rather than a metaethical account. Rawls’s claims about the role of facts in moral theorizing in A Theory of Justice should be interpreted as suggesting that some of our (...)
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  • Uncertainty Behind the Veil of Ignorance.A. Faik Kurtulmus - 2012 - Utilitas 24 (1):41-62.
    This article argues that the decision problem in the original position should be characterized as a decision problem under uncertainty even when it is assumed that the denizens of the original position know that they have an equal chance of ending up in any given individual’s place. It supports this claim by arguing that (a) the continuity axiom of decision theory does not hold between all of the outcomes the denizens of the original position face and that (b) neither us (...)
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  • Trade-Offs, Transitivity, and Temkin.Dale Dorsey - 2015 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 12 (3):331-342.
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  • Aggregate Relevant Claims in Rescue Cases?Johanna Privitera - 2018 - Utilitas 30 (2):228-236.
    In 'How Should We Aggregate Competing Claims', Alex Voorhoeve suggests accommodating intuitions about duties in rescue cases by combining aggregative and non-aggregative elements into one theory. In this paper, I discuss two problems Voorhoeve’s theory faces as a result of requiring a cyclic pattern of choice, and argue that his attempt to solve them does not succeed.
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