In defence of Pigou-Dalton for chances

Utilitas 35 (4):292-311 (2023)
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I defend a weak version of the Pigou-Dalton principle for chances. The principle says that it is better to increase the survival chance of a person who is more likely to die rather than a person who is less likely to die, assuming that the two people do not differ in any other morally relevant respect. The principle justifies plausible moral judgements that standard ex post views, such as prioritarianism and rank-dependent egalitarianism, cannot accommodate. However, the principle can be justified by the same reasoning that has recently been used to defend the core axiom of ex post prioritarianism and egalitarianism, namely, Pigou-Dalton for well-being. The arguably biggest challenge for proponents of Pigou-Dalton for chances is that it violates State Dominance for social prospects. However, I argue that we have independent reason for rejecting State Dominance for social prospects, since it prevents a social planner from properly respecting people's preferences.


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H. Orri Stefansson
Stockholm University

Citations of this work

Doing Less Than Best.Emma J. Curran - 2023 - Dissertation, University of Cambridge

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References found in this work

The Logic of Decision.Richard C. Jeffrey - 1965 - New York, NY, USA: University of Chicago Press.
Risk and Rationality.Lara Buchak - 2013 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Theory of Games and Economic Behavior.John Von Neumann & Oskar Morgenstern - 1944 - Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press.
Weighing lives.John Broome - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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