Axiological Absolutism and Risk

Noûs 53 (1):97-113 (2019)
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Abstract

Consider the following claim: given the choice between saving a life and preventing any number of people from temporarily experiencing a mild headache, you should always save the life. Many moral theorists accept this claim. In doing so, they commit themselves to some form of ‘moral absolutism’: the view that there are some moral considerations that cannot be outweighed by any number of lesser moral considerations. In contexts of certainty, it is clear what moral absolutism requires of you. However, what does it require of you when deciding under risk? What ought you to do when there is a chance that, say, you will not succeed in saving the life? In recent years, various critics have argued that moral absolutism cannot satisfactorily deal with risk and should, therefore, be abandoned. In this paper, we show that moral absolutism can answer its critics by drawing on—of all things—orthodox expected utility theory.

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Author Profiles

Seth Lazar
Australian National University
Chad Lee-Stronach
Stanford University

Citations of this work

In dubious battle: uncertainty and the ethics of killing.Seth Lazar - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (4):859-883.
Duty and Doubt.Seth Lazar - 2020 - Journal of Practical Ethics 8 (1):28-55.
Moral priorities under risk.Chad Lee-Stronach - 2018 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 48 (6):793-811.

View all 16 citations / Add more citations

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