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Axiological Absolutism and Risk

Noûs 53 (1):97-113 (2019)

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  1. 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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  • Ethical Machine Decisions and the Input-Selection Problem.Björn Lundgren - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):11423-11443.
    This article is about the role of factual uncertainty for moral decision-making as it concerns the ethics of machine decision-making. The view that is defended here is that factual uncertainties require a normative evaluation and that ethics of machine decision faces a triple-edged problem, which concerns what a machine ought to do, given its technical constraints, what decisional uncertainty is acceptable, and what trade-offs are acceptable to decrease the decisional uncertainty.
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  • Duty and Doubt.Seth Lazar - 2020 - Journal of Practical Ethics 8 (1):28-55.
    Deontologists have been slow to address decision-making under risk and uncertainty, no doubt because the standard approaches to non-moral decision theory appear superficially similar to consequentialist moral reasoning. I identify some central tenets of simple decision theory and show that they should not put deontologists off, before showing where we should go next to develop a comprehensive deontological decision theory.
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  • In Dubious Battle: Uncertainty and the Ethics of Killing.Seth Lazar - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (4):859-883.
    How should deontologists concerned with the ethics of killing apply their moral theory when we don’t know all the facts relevant to the permissibility of our action? Though the stakes couldn’t be higher, and uncertainty is endemic where killing is concerned, few deontologists have an answer to this question. In this paper I canvass two possibilities: that we should apply a threshold standard, equivalent to the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard applied for criminal punishment; and that we should fit our (...)
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  • Moral Priorities Under Risk.Chad Lee-Stronach - 2018 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 48 (6):793-811.
    Many moral theories are committed to the idea that some kinds of moral considerations should be respected, whatever the cost to ‘lesser’ types of considerations. A person's life, for instance, should not be sacrificed for the trivial pleasures of others, no matter how many would benefit. However, according to the decision-theoretic critique of lexical priority theories, accepting lexical priorities inevitably leads us to make unacceptable decisions in risky situations. It seems that to operate in a risky world, we must reject (...)
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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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  • Never Mind the Trolley: The Ethics of Autonomous Vehicles in Mundane Situations.Johannes Himmelreich - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (3):669-684.
    Trolley cases are widely considered central to the ethics of autonomous vehicles. We caution against this by identifying four problems. Trolley cases, given technical limitations, rest on assumptions that are in tension with one another. Furthermore, trolley cases illuminate only a limited range of ethical issues insofar as they cohere with a certain design framework. Furthermore, trolley cases seem to demand a moral answer when a political answer is called for. Finally, trolley cases might be epistemically problematic in several ways. (...)
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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, Uncertainty.Chad Lee-Stronach - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 71 (2):334-358.
    Non-Consequentialist moral theories posit the existence of moral constraints: prohibitions on performing particular kinds of wrongful acts, regardless of the good those acts could produce. Many believe that such theories cannot give satisfactory verdicts about what we morally ought to do when there is some probability that we will violate a moral constraint. In this article, I defend Non-Consequentialist theories from this critique. Using a general choice-theoretic framework, I identify various types of Non-Consequentialism that have otherwise been conflated in the (...)
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  • Why Impossible Options Are Better: Consequentializing Dilemmas.Brian Talbot - 2021 - Utilitas 33 (2):221-236.
    To consequentialize a deontological moral theory is to give a theory which issues the same moral verdicts, but explains those verdicts in terms of maximizing or satisficing value. There are many motivations for consequentializing: to reconcile plausible ideas behind deontology with plausible ideas behind consequentialism, to help us better understand deontological theories, or to extend deontological theories beyond what intuitions alone tell us. It has proven difficult to consequentialize theories that allow for moral dilemmas or that deny that “ought” implies (...)
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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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