Aggregation, Beneficence, and Chance

Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 7 (2):1-19 (2013)
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Abstract

It is plausible to think that it is wrong to cure many people’s headaches rather than save someone else’s life. On the other hand, it is plausible to think that it is not wrong to expose someone to a tiny risk of death when curing this person’s headache. I will argue that these claims are inconsistent. For if we keep taking this tiny risk then it is likely that one person dies, while many others’ headaches are cured. In light of this inconsistency, there is a conflict in our intuitions about beneficence and chance. This conflict is perplexing. And I have not been able to find a satisfactory way of resolving it. Perhaps you can do better?

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Author's Profile

Tom Dougherty
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Citations of this work

In dubious battle: uncertainty and the ethics of killing.Seth Lazar - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (4):859-883.
On Ex Ante Contractualism.Korbinian Rüger - 2018 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 13 (3).
Contractualism, Complaints, and Risk.Bastian Steuwer - 2021 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 19 (2).
Partial aggregation in ethics.Joe Horton - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (3):1-12.
Other People.Kieran Setiya - forthcoming - In Sarah Buss & Nandi Theunissen (eds.), Rethinking the Value of Humanity.

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References found in this work

Contractualism and risk imposition.James Lenman - 2008 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 7 (1):99-122.
Goodness and Utilitarianism.Judith Jarvis Thomson - 1994 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 67 (4):5 - 21.
Goodness and Utilitarianism.Judith Jarvis Thomson - 1993 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 67 (2):145-159.

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