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The All or Nothing Problem

Journal of Philosophy 114 (2):94-104 (2017)

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  1. Supererogation and Conditional Obligation.Daniel Muñoz & Theron Pummer - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (5):1429–1443.
    There are plenty of classic paradoxes about conditional obligations, like the duty to be gentle if one is to murder, and about “supererogatory” deeds beyond the call of duty. But little has been said about the intersection of these topics. We develop the first general account of conditional supererogation, with the power to solve familiar puzzles as well as several that we introduce. Our account, moreover, flows from two familiar ideas: that conditionals restrict quantification and that supererogation emerges from a (...)
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  • Supererogation and Optimisation.Christian Barry & Seth Lazar - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-16.
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  • Better Vaguely Right Than Precisely Wrong in Effective Altruism: The Problem of Marginalism.Nicolas Côté & Bastian Steuwer - forthcoming - Economics and Philosophy:1-18.
    Effective altruism requires that when we donate to charity, we maximize the beneficial impact of our donations. While we are in broad sympathy with EA, we raise a practical problem for EA, which is that there is a crucial empirical presupposition implicit in its charity assessment methods which is false in many contexts. This is the presupposition that the magnitude of the benefits generated by some charity vary continuously in the scale of the intervention performed. We characterize a wide class (...)
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  • Farewell to Arms? The All-or-Nothing Problem Again.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Joe Horton’s all-or-nothing problem concerns a situation in which it is morally permissible to do nothing and to save two people but not to save only one. This description seems to entail that we should do nothing rather than save only one. I object to Horton’s solution and challenge a principle he draws attention to, which is required to generate the problem but which Horton regards as beyond dispute.
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  • A Metaphysical Solution to the All-or-Nothing Problem.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    In this paper, I present a metaphysical solution to the all-or-nothing problem, which rejects the description of the choices in favour of lower-level descriptions.
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  • Opting for the Best: Oughts and Options.Douglas W. Portmore - 2019 - New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
    The book concerns what I take to be the least controversial normative principle concerning action: you ought to perform your best option—best, that is, in terms of whatever ultimately matters. The book sets aside the question of what ultimately matters so as to focus on more basic issues, such as: What are our options? Do I have the option of typing out the cure for cancer if that’s what I would in fact do if I had the right intentions at (...)
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  • The World is Not Enough.Nathan Robert Howard & N. G. Laskowski - 2021 - Noûs 55 (1):86-101.
    Throughout his career, Derek Parfit made the bold suggestion, at various times under the heading of the "Normativity Objection," that anyone in possession of normative concepts is in a position to know, on the basis of their competence with such concepts alone, that reductive realism in ethics is not even possible. Despite the prominent role that the Normativity Objection plays in Parfit's non-reductive account of the nature of normativity, when the objection hasn't been ignored, it's been criticized and even derided. (...)
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  • Accommodating Options.Seth Lazar - 2019 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (1):233-255.
    Many of us think we have agent-centred options to act suboptimally. Some of these involve favouring our own interests. Others involve sacrificing them. In this paper, I explore three different ways to accommodate agent-centred options in a criterion of objective permissibility. I argue against satisficing and rational pluralism, and in favour of a principle built around sensitivity to personal cost.
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  • Twin Pregnancy Reduction is Not an ‘All or Nothing’ Problem: A Response to Räsänen.Dunja Begović, Elizabeth Chloe Romanis & E. J. Verweij - 2022 - Journal of Medical Ethics 48 (2):139-141.
    In his paper, ‘Twin pregnancy, fetal reduction and the ‘all or nothing problem’, Räsänen sets out to apply Horton’s ‘all or nothing’ problem to the ethics of multifetal pregnancy reduction from a twin to a singleton pregnancy. Horton’s problem involves the following scenario: imagine that two children are about to be crushed by a collapsing building. An observer would have three options: do nothing, save one child by allowing their arms to be crushed, or save both by allowing their arms (...)
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  • The Ethicality of Point-of-Sale Marketing Campaigns: Normative Ethics Applied to Cause-Related Checkout Charities.Jay L. Caulfield, Catharyn A. Baird & Felissa K. Lee - 2022 - Journal of Business Ethics 175 (4):799-814.
    “Would you like to contribute to XYZ charity by adding a dollar to your bill today?” Point-of-sale campaigns for fundraising are common to grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants and warehouse clubs. Commonly referred to as ‘checkout charity,’ these fundraisers have generated over $4.1 billion in contributions for nonprofits over the past three decades. Yet little research has focused on the ethicality of this type of campaign. To address this need, we analyze the issue using behavioral ethics and normative theory. We consider (...)
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  • Three Paradoxes of Supererogation.Daniel Muñoz - 2021 - Noûs 55 (3):699-716.
    Supererogatory acts—good deeds “beyond the call of duty”—are a part of moral common sense, but conceptually puzzling. I propose a unified solution to three of the most infamous puzzles: the classic Paradox of Supererogation (if it’s so good, why isn’t it just obligatory?), Horton’s All or Nothing Problem, and Kamm’s Intransitivity Paradox. I conclude that supererogation makes sense if, and only if, the grounds of rightness are multi-dimensional and comparative.
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  • Exploitation, Trade Justice, and Corporate Obligations.Brian Berkey - 2022 - Moral Philosophy and Politics 9 (1):11-29.
    In On Trade Justice, Risse and Wollner defend an account of trade justice on which the central requirement, applying to both states and firms, is a requirement of non-exploitation. On their view, trade exploitation consists in ‘power-induced failure of reciprocity’, which generates an unfair distribution of the benefits and burdens associated with trade relationships. In this paper, I argue that while there are many appealing features of Risse and Wollner’s account, their discussion does not articulate and develop the unified picture (...)
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  • The Many, the Few, and the Nature of Value.Daniel Muñoz - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
    John Taurek argues that, in a choice between saving the many or the few, the numbers should not count. Some object that this view clashes with the transitivity of ‘better than’; others insist the clash can be avoided. I defend a middle ground: Taurek cannot have transitivity, but that doesn’t doom his view, given a suitable conception of value. I then formalize and explore two conceptions: one context-sensitive, one multidimensional.
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  • What’s Wrong with Hypocrisy.Kartik Upadhyaya - 2020 - Dissertation, University of Warwick
    Hypocrisy seems to be a distinctive moral wrong. This thesis offers an account of that wrong. The distinctive wrong of hypocrisy is not a rational failing, or a deception of others. It is a problem in how we critique, and blame, others, when we ourselves are guilty of similar faults. Not only does it seem wrong to blame others hypocritically; it is also widely remarked that hypocrites ‘lack standing’ to blame. I defend both judgments. When we engage others in response (...)
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  • Maternal Autonomy and Prenatal Harm.Nathan Robert Howard - forthcoming - Bioethics.
    Inflicting harm is generally preferable to inflicting death. If you must choose between the two, you should choose to harm. But prenatal harm seems different. If a mother must choose between harming her fetus or aborting it, she may choose either, at least in many cases. So it seems that prenatal harm is particularly objectionable, sometimes on a par with death. This paper offers an explanation of why prenatal harm seems particularly objectionable by drawing an analogy to the all-or-nothing problem. (...)
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  • Should Acknowledgments in Published Academic Articles Include Gratitude for Reviewers Who Reviewed for Journals That Rejected Those Articles?Joona Räsänen & Pekka Louhiala - 2021 - Theoria 87 (3):713-728.
    It is a common practice for authors of an academic work to thank the anonymous reviewers at the journal that is publishing it. Allegedly, scholars thank the reviewers because their comments improved the paper and thanking them is a proper way to show gratitude to them. Yet often, a paper that is eventually accepted by one journal is first rejected by other journals, and even though those journals’ reviewers also supply comments that improve the quality of the work, those reviewers (...)
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  • Sweatshops and Free Action: The Stakes of the Actualism/Possibilism Debate for Business Ethics.Travis Timmerman & Abe Zakhem - 2021 - Journal of Business Ethics 171 (4):683-694.
    Whether an action is morally right depends upon the alternative acts available to the agent. Actualists hold that what an agent would actually do determines her moral obligations. Possibilists hold that what an agent could possibly do determines her moral obligations. Both views face compelling criticisms. Despite the fact that actualist and possibilist assumptions are at the heart of seminal arguments in business ethics, there has been no explicit discussion of actualism and possibilism in the business ethics literature. This paper (...)
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  • What Rationality Is.Arif Ahmed -
    A choice function C is rational iff: if it allows a path through a sequence of decisions with a particular outcome, then that outcome is amongst the ones that C would have chosen from amongst all the possible outcomes of the sequence. This implies, and it is the strongest definition that implies, that anyone who is irrational could be talked out of their own preferences. It also implies weak but non-vacuous constraints on choices over ends. These do not include alpha (...)
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  • Maximal Cluelessness.Andreas L. Mogensen - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 71 (1):141-162.
    I argue that many of the priority rankings that have been proposed by effective altruists seem to be in tension with apparently reasonable assumptions about the rational pursuit of our aims in the face of uncertainty. The particular issue on which I focus arises from recognition of the overwhelming importance and inscrutability of the indirect effects of our actions, conjoined with the plausibility of a permissive decision principle governing cases of deep uncertainty, known as the maximality rule. I conclude that (...)
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  • Addressed Blame and Hostility.Benjamin De Mesel - 2020 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 18 (1):111-119.
    Benjamin Bagley ('Properly Proleptic Blame', Ethics 127, July 2017) sets out a dilemma for addressed blame, that is, blame addressed to its targets as an implicit demand for recognition. The dilemma arises when we ask whether offenders would actually appreciate this demand, via a sound deliberative route from their existing motivations. If they would, their offense reflects a deliberative mistake. If they wouldn't, addressing them is futile, and blame's emotional engagement seems unwarranted. Bagley wants to resolve the dilemma in such (...)
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  • Epistemic Modesty in Ethics.Nicholas Laskowski - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (7):1577-1596.
    Many prominent ethicists, including Shelly Kagan, John Rawls, and Thomas Scanlon, accept a kind of epistemic modesty thesis concerning our capacity to carry out the project of ethical theorizing. But it is a thesis that has received surprisingly little explicit and focused attention, despite its widespread acceptance. After explaining why the thesis is true, I argue that it has several implications in metaethics, including, especially, implications that should lead us to rethink our understanding of Reductive Realism. In particular, the thesis (...)
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  • Setiya on Consequentialism and Constraints.Ryan Cox & Matthew Hammerton - 2021 - Utilitas 33 (4):474-479.
    It is widely held that agent-neutral consequentialism is incompatible with deontic constraints. Recently, Kieran Setiya has challenged this orthodoxy by presenting a form of agent-neutral consequentialism that he claims can capture deontic constraints. In this reply, we argue against Setiya's proposal by pointing to features of deontic constraints that his account fails to capture.
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  • Twin Pregnancy, Fetal Reduction and the 'All or Nothing Problem’.Joona Räsänen - 2022 - Journal of Medical Ethics 48 (2):101-105.
    Fetal reduction is the practice of reducing the number of fetuses in a multiple pregnancy, such as quadruplets, to a twin or singleton pregnancy. Use of assisted reproductive technologies increases the likelihood of multiple pregnancies, and many fetal reductions are done after in vitro fertilisation and embryo transfer, either because of social or health-related reasons. In this paper, I apply Joe Horton’s all or nothing problem to the ethics of fetal reduction in the case of a twin pregnancy. I argue (...)
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  • Exploitation and Effective Altruism.Daniel Muñoz - 2021 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 20 (4):409-423.
    How could it be wrong to exploit—say, by paying sweatshop wages—if the exploited party benefits? How could it be wrong to do something gratuitously bad—like giving to a wasteful charity—if that is better than permissibly doing nothing? Joe Horton argues that these puzzles, known as the Exploitation Problem and All or Nothing Problem, have no unified answer. I propose one and pose a challenge for Horton’s take on the Exploitation Problem.
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  • Philosophical and Ethical Aspects of Economic Design.Philippe van Basshuysen - 2019 - Dissertation, London School of Economics and Political Science
    This thesis studies some philosophical and ethical issues that economic design raises. Chapter 1 gives an overview of economic design and argues that a crossfertilisation between philosophy and economic design is possible and insightful for both sides. Chapter 2 examines the implications of mechanism design for theories of rationality. I show that non-classical theories, such as constrained maximization and team reasoning, are at odds with the constraint of incentive compatibility. This poses a problem for non-classical theories, which proponents of these (...)
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  • Betterness of permissibility.Benjamin Ferguson & Sebastian Köhler - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (9):2451-2469.
    It is often assumed that morally permissible acts are morally better than impermissible acts. We call this claim Betterness of Permissibility. Yet, we show that some striking counterexamples show that the claim’s truth cannot be taken for granted. Furthermore, even if Betterness of Permissibility is true, it is unclear why. Apart from appeals to its intuitive plausibility, no arguments in favour of the condition exist. We fill this lacuna by identifying two fundamental conditions that jointly entail betterness of permissibility: ‘reasons (...)
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  • A Holist Deontological Solution to the All or Nothing Problem.Hui Jin - 2021 - Philosophia 49 (5):2067-2079.
    The All or Nothing Problem is a paradox developed in recent debates about effective altruism. One argues that the paradox can be resolved by rejecting some of its claims in favor of parallel conditional claims. Another contends that the correct solution to the paradox is to reject a wrong bridge principle that is assumed in it. A third draws a distinction between two moral realms, and suggests that the paradox is only of limited relevance to some assertion of effective altruism (...)
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  • Duties and Demandingness, Individual and Collective.Marcus Hedahl & Kyle Fruh - forthcoming - Journal of Value Inquiry:1-23.
    Concern regarding overly demanding duties has been a prominent feature of moral debate ever since the possibility was famously sounded out by Bernard Williams nearly fifty years ago. More recently, some theorists have attempted to resolve the issue by reconsidering its underlying structure, drawing attention to the possibility that the duties to respond to large-scale moral issues like global poverty, systemic racism, and climate change may be fundamentally collective duties rather than indi- vidual ones. On this view, the relationship between (...)
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  • Determined by Reasons: A Competence Account of Acting for a Normative Reason. [REVIEW]J. J. Cunningham - 2020 - Philosophical Quarterly 70 (279):429-432.
    Determined by Reasons: A Competence Account of Acting for a Normative Reason. By Mantel Susanne..).
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  • Moral Market Design.Sam Fox Krauss - 2019 - Kansas Journal of Law and Public Policy 28 (2).
    We often encounter people who we believe are behaving immorally. We routinely try to change minds and often donate to charitable organizations that do the same. Of course, this does not always work. In a liberal, rights-based society, we have to tolerate this. But legal entitlements to act in ways that others find immoral are inefficiently allocated. For example, some meat-eaters value eating meat less than some vegetarians would be willing to pay them to stop. While many have written about (...)
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  • Meaning, Medicine, and Merit.Andreas L. Mogensen - 2020 - Utilitas 32 (1):90-107.
    Given the inevitability of scarcity, should public institutions ration healthcare resources so as to prioritize those who contribute more to society? Intuitively, we may feel that this would be somehow inegalitarian. I argue that the egalitarian objection to prioritizing treatment on the basis of patients’ usefulness to others is best thought of as semiotic: i.e. as having to do with what this practice would mean, convey, or express about a person's standing. I explore the implications of this conclusion when taken (...)
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  • Kidney Exchange and the Ethics of Giving.Philippe Van Basshuysen - 2020 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 18 (1).
    The best treatment for end-stage renal disease is the transplantation of a live donor kidney, but many people cannot donate to their loved ones because they are incompatible. Kidney exchange promises relief. Kidney exchange programmes use centralised procedures to match donors with recipients in a way that maximises the quantity and quality of transplants. However, the transplant laws in many countries render kidney exchange programmes impossible because of ethical concerns against these programmes or against kinds of kidney donations on which (...)
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  • Effectiveness and Demandingness.Brian Berkey - 2020 - Utilitas 32 (3):368-381.
    It has been argued in some recent work that there are many cases in which individuals are subject to conditional obligations to give to more effective rather than less effective charities, despite not being unconditionally obligated to give. These conditional obligations, it has been suggested, can allow effective altruists to make the central claims about the ethics of charitable giving that characterize the movement without taking any particular position on morality's demandingness. I argue that the range of cases involving charitable (...)
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  • The Value of Fairness and the Wrong of Wage Exploitation.Brian Berkey - 2020 - Business Ethics Quarterly 30 (3):414-429.
    In a recent article in this journal, David Faraci argues that the value of fairness can plausibly be appealed to in order to vindicate the view that consensual, mutually beneficial employment relationships can be wrongfully exploitative, even if employers have no obligation to hire or otherwise benefit those who are badly off enough to be vulnerable to wage exploitation. In this commentary, I argue that several values provide potentially strong grounds for thinking that it is at least sometimes better, morally (...)
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  • Review of The Ethics of Giving: Philosophers’ Perspectives on Philanthropy. [REVIEW]Theron Pummer - 2020 - Philosophical Quarterly 70 (278):426-429.
    The Ethics of Giving: Philosophers’ Perspectives on Philanthropy. Edited by Woodruff Paul.
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