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Prioritarianism for Prospects

Utilitas 14 (1):2-21 (2002)

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  1. Discounting Future Health.Hilary Greaves - forthcoming - In Emanuel Norheim (ed.), Global health priority-setting: Cost-effectiveness and beyond. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
    In carrying out cost-benefit or cost-effective analysis, a discount rate should be applied to some kinds of future benefits and costs. It is controversial, though, whether future health is in this class. I argue that one of the standard arguments for discounting (from diminishing marginal returns) is inapplicable to the case of health, while another (favouring a pure rate of time preference) is unsound in any case. However, there are two other reasons that might support a positive discount rate for (...)
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  • In Defense of Priority.Shlomi Segall - 2015 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 14 (4):343-364.
    In a recent article, Michael Otsuka and Alex Voorhoeve argue that prioritarianism fails to account for the shift in moral significance in gains to individuals in interpersonal as compared to intrapersonal cases. In this article, I show that the priority view escapes this objection but in a way that deprives it of its anti-egalitarian stance. Despite Otsuka and Voorhoeve, prioritarianism, rightly understood, provides consistent and attractive recommendations in both single- and multi-person cases. Yet prioritarians, the article goes on to show, (...)
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  • Probability in Ethics.David McCarthy - 2016 - In Alan Hájek & Christopher Hitchcock (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Probability. Oxford University Press. pp. 705–737.
    The article is a plea for ethicists to regard probability as one of their most important concerns. It outlines a series of topics of central importance in ethical theory in which probability is implicated, often in a surprisingly deep way, and lists a number of open problems. Topics covered include: interpretations of probability in ethical contexts; the evaluative and normative significance of risk or uncertainty; uses and abuses of expected utility theory; veils of ignorance; Harsanyi’s aggregation theorem; population size problems; (...)
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  • The Value of Existence.Wlodek Rabinowicz & Gustaf Arrhenius - 2015 - In Iwao Hirose & Jonas Olson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Value Theory. Oxford University Press USA. pp. 424-444.
    Can it be better or worse for a person to exist than not to exist at all? This old and challenging existential question has been raised anew in contemporary moral philosophy, mainly for two reasons. First, traditional “impersonal” ethical theories, such as utilitarianism, have counterintuitive implications in population ethics, for example, the repugnant conclusion. Second, it has seemed evident to many that an outcome can be better than another only if it is better for someone, and that only moral theories (...)
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  • The Social Cost of Carbon: Valuing Inequality, Risk, and Population for Climate Policy.Marc Fleurbaey, Maddalena Ferranna, Mark Budolfson, Francis Dennig, Kian Mintz-Woo, Robert Socolow, Dean Spears & Stéphane Zuber - 2019 - The Monist 102 (1):84-109.
    We analyze the role of ethical values in the determination of the social cost of carbon, arguing that the familiar debate about discounting is too narrow. Other ethical issues are equally important to computing the social cost of carbon, and we highlight inequality, risk, and population ethics. Although the usual approach, in the economics of cost-benefit analysis for climate policy, is confined to a utilitarian axiology, the methodology of the social cost of carbon is rather flexible and can be expanded (...)
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  • Measuring Life's Goodness.David Mccarthy - 2007 - Philosophical Books 48 (4):303-319.
    Philosophers often assume that we can somehow quantitatively measure how good things are for people. But what does such talk mean? And what are the measures? In *Weighing Goods* John Broome offers one treatment of these questions. In his later *Weighing Lives* he offers a different treatment. This article discusses both positions but advocates a third. But while the three positions disagree about matters of meaning, they agree about the form of the measures. Roughly speaking, they are such that the (...)
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  • Prioritarianism: Ex Ante, Ex Post, or Factualist Criterion of Rightness?Nils Holtug - 2019 - Journal of Political Philosophy 27 (2):207-228.
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  • Ex-Ante Prioritarianism Violates Sequential Ex-Ante Pareto.Johan E. Gustafsson - forthcoming - Utilitas.
    Prioritarianism is a variant of utilitarianism. It differs from utilitarianism in that benefiting individuals matters more the worse off these individuals are. On this view, there are two standard ways of handling risky prospects: Ex-Post Prioritarianism adjusts for prioritizing the worse off in final outcomes and then values prospects by the expectation of the sum total of those adjusted values, whereas Ex-Ante Prioritarianism adjusts for prioritizing the worse off on each individual’s expectation and then values prospects by the sum total (...)
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  • Egalitarianism and the Separateness of Persons.Alex Voorhoeve & Marc Fleurbaey - 2012 - Utilitas 24 (3):381-398.
    The difference between the unity of the individual and the separateness of persons requires that there be a shift in the moral weight that we accord to changes in utility when we move from making intrapersonal tradeoffs to making interpersonal tradeoffs. We examine which forms of egalitarianism can, and which cannot, account for this shift. We argue that a form of egalitarianism which is concerned only with the extent of outcome inequality cannot account for this shift. We also argue that (...)
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  • Ambiguity Aversion Behind the Veil of Ignorance.H. Orri Stefánsson - 2021 - Synthese 198 (7):6159-6182.
    The veil of ignorance argument was used by John C. Harsanyi to defend Utilitarianism and by John Rawls to defend the absolute priority of the worst off. In a recent paper, Lara Buchak revives the veil of ignorance argument, and uses it to defend an intermediate position between Harsanyi's and Rawls' that she calls Relative Prioritarianism. None of these authors explore the implications of allowing that agent's behind the veil are averse to ambiguity. Allowing for aversion to ambiguity---which is both (...)
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  • Antiprioritarianism.Hilary Greaves - 2015 - Utilitas 27 (1):1-42.
    Prioritarianism is supposed to be a theory of the overall good that captures the common intuition of . But it is difficult to give precise content to the prioritarian claim. Over the past few decades, prioritarians have increasingly responded to this by formulating prioritarianism not in terms of an alleged primitive notion of quantity of well-being, but instead in terms of von NeumannPrimitivistTechnicalpriority to the worse offMorgenstern utility is a retrograde step.
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  • Risk-Free Approaches to the Priority View.David McCarthy - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (2):421-449.
    Parfit advertised the priority view as a new and fundamental theory in the ethics of distribution. He never discusses risk, and many writers follow suit when discussing the priority view. This article formalizes two popular arguments for a commonly accepted risk-free definition of the priority view. One is based on a direct attempt to define the priority view, the other is based on a contrast with utilitarianism and egalitarianism. But neither argument succeeds, and more generally, it is not possible to (...)
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  • An Intrapersonal Addition Paradox.Jacob M. Nebel - 2019 - Ethics 129 (2):309-343.
    I present a new argument for the repugnant conclusion. The core of the argument is a risky, intrapersonal analogue of the mere addition paradox. The argument is important for three reasons. First, some solutions to Parfit’s original puzzle do not obviously generalize to the intrapersonal puzzle in a plausible way. Second, it raises independently important questions about how to make decisions under uncertainty for the sake of people whose existence might depend on what we do. And, third, it suggests various (...)
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  • A New Counterexample to Prioritarianism.Toby Ord - 2015 - Utilitas 27 (3):298-302.
    Prioritarianism is the moral view that a fixed improvement in someone's well-being matters more the worse off they are. Its supporters argue that it best captures our intuitions about unequal distributions of well-being. I show that prioritarianism sometimes recommends acts that will make things more unequal while simultaneously lowering the total well-being and making things worse for everyone ex ante. Intuitively, there is little to recommend such acts and I take this to be a serious counterexample for prioritarianism.
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  • Prioritarianism Without Consequentialism.Yingying Tang & Lei Zhong - 2018 - Kriterion: Journal of Philosophy 59 (141):943-956.
    According to prioritarianism, an influential theory of distributive justice, we have a stronger reason to benefit people the worse off these people are. Many authors have adopted a consequentialist version of prioritarianism. On this account, we have a consequentialist reason to benefit the worse off because the state of affairs where the worse off gains a given amount of utility is more valuable than the state of affairs where the better off gains roughly the same amount of utility. In this (...)
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  • Distributive Equality.David McCarthy - 2015 - Mind 124 (496):1045-1109.
    Egalitarians think that equality in the distribution of goods somehow matters. But what exactly is egalitarianism? This article argues for a characterization based on novel principles essentially involving risk. The characterization is then used to resolve disputed questions about egalitarianism. These include: the way egalitarianism is concerned with patterns, in particular its relationship to strong separability; the relationship between egalitarianism and other distributive views, such as concerns with fairness and with giving priority to the worse off; and the relationship between (...)
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  • The Priority View.David McCarthy - 2017 - Economics and Philosophy 33 (2):215–57.
    According to the priority view, or prioritarianism, it matters more to benefit people the worse off they are. But how exactly should the priority view be defined? This article argues for a highly general characterization which essentially involves risk, but makes no use of evaluative measurements or the expected utility axioms. A representation theorem is provided, and when further assumptions are added, common accounts of the priority view are recovered. A defense of the key idea behind the priority view, the (...)
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  • Should We Wish Well to All?Caspar Hare - 2016 - Philosophical Review 125 (4):451-472.
    Some moral theories tell you, in some situations in which you are interacting with a group of people, to avoid acting in the way that is expectedly best for everybody. This essay argues that such theories are mistaken. Go ahead and do what is expectedly best for everybody. The argument is based on the thought that when interacting with an individual it is fine for you to act in the expected interests of the individual and that many interactions with individuals (...)
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  • Concerns for the Poorly Off in Ordering Risky Prospects.Luc Bovens - 2015 - Economics and Philosophy 31 (3):397-429.
    The Distribution View provides a model that integrates four distributional concerns in the evaluation of risky prospects. Starting from these concerns, we can generate an ordering over a set of risky prospects, or, starting from an ordering, we can extract a characterization of the underlying distributional concerns. Separability of States and/or Persons for multiple-person risky prospects, for single-person risky prospects and for multiple-person certain prospects are discussed within the model. The Distribution View sheds light on public health policies and provides (...)
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  • Prioritarianism and Single-Person Cases.Per Algander & Andrew Reisner - manuscript
    In this paper we argue that the use of survey data or intuitions about single person cases as a dialectically neutral data point for favouring telic egalitarianism over prioritarianism has dim prospects for success. We take as a case study Otsuka and Voorhoeve (2009)'s now well known paper and show that it either is either argumentatively irrelevant or question-begging, depending on whether the survey data about people's judgements concerning single-person cases is interpreted as being prudential or moral in character. We (...)
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  • Evaluating Risky Prospects: The Distribution View.Luc Bovens - 2015 - Analysis 75 (2):243-253.
    Risky prospects represent policies that impose different types of risks on multiple people. I present an example from food safety. A utilitarian following Harsanyi's Aggregation Theorem ranks such prospects according to their mean expected utility or the expectation of the social utility. Such a ranking is not sensitive to any of four types of distributional concerns. I develop a model that lets the policy analyst rank prospects relative to the distributional concerns that she considers fitting in the context at hand. (...)
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  • Evaluating Life or Death Prospects.Luc Bovens & Marc Fleurbaey - 2012 - Economics and Philosophy 28 (2):217-249.
    We consider a special set of risky prospects in which the outcomes are either life or death. There are various alternatives to the utilitarian objective of minimizing the expected loss of lives in such prospects. We start off with the two-person case with independent risks and construct taxonomies of ex ante and ex post evaluations for such prospects. We examine the relationship between the ex ante and the ex post in this restrictive framework: There are more possibilities to respect ex (...)
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  • Prioritarianism for Variable Populations.Campbell Brown - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 134 (3):325-361.
    Philosophical discussions of prioritarianism, the view that we ought to give priority to those who are worse off, have hitherto been almost exclusively focused on cases involving a fixed population. The aim of this paper is to extend the discussion of prioritarianism to encompass also variable populations. I argue that prioritarianism, in its simplest formulation, is not tenable in this area. However, I also propose several revised formulations that, so I argue, show more promise.
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  • Utilitarianism and Prioritarianism II.David McCarthy - 2008 - Economics and Philosophy 24 (1):1-33.
    A natural formalization of the priority view is presented which results from adding expected utility theory to the main ideas of the priority view. The result is ex post prioritarianism. But ex post prioritarianism entails that in a world containing just one person, it is sometimes better for that person to do what is strictly worse for herself. This claim may appear to be implausible. But the deepest objection to ex post prioritarianism has to do with meaning: ex post prioritarianism (...)
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  • Reconsidering the Value of Equality.Iwao Hirose - 2009 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (2):301-312.
    Some people believe that the equality of people's well-being makes an outcome better, other things being constant. Call this Telic Egalitarianism. In this paper I will propose a new interpretation of Telic Egalitarianism, and compare it with the interpretation that is proposed by Derek Parfit 1995 and widely accepted by many philosophers. I will argue that my proposed interpretation is more plausible than Parfit's. One of the virtues in my interpretation is that it shows his Levelling Down Objection does not (...)
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  • Another Defence of the Priority View.Derek Parfit - 2012 - Utilitas 24 (3):399-440.
    This article discusses the relation between prioritarian and egalitarian principles, whether and why we need to appeal to both kinds of principle, how prioritarians can answer various objections, especially those put forward by Michael Otsuka and Alex Voorhoeve, the moral difference between cases in which our acts could affect only one person or two or more people, veil of ignorance contractualism and utilitarianism, what prioritarians should claim about cases in which the effects of our acts are uncertain, the relative moral (...)
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  • Equality Versus Priority: A Useful Distinction.John Broome - 2015 - Economics and Philosophy 31 (2):219-228.