The Philosophical Quarterly 68 (273):841–861 (2018)

Seth Lazar
Australian National University
Suppose that you are trying to pursue a morally worthy goal, but cannot do so without incurring some moral costs. At the outset, you believed that achieving your goal was worth no more than a given moral cost. And suppose that, time having passed, you have wrought only harm and injustice, without advancing your cause. You can now reflect on whether to continue. Your goal is within reach. What's more, you believe you can achieve it by incurring—from this point forward—no more cost than it warranted at the outset. If you now succeed, the total cost will exceed the upper bound marked at the beginning. But the additional cost from this point is below that upper bound. And the good you will achieve is undiminished. How do the moral costs you have already inflicted bear upon your decision now?
Keywords Deontological ethics  Nonconsequentialism  Harm  Sunk costs  Sequential decision theory  Dynamic choice
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Reprint years 2018
DOI 10.1093/pq/pqy030
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References found in this work BETA

On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
Should the Numbers Count?John Taurek - 1977 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 6 (4):293-316.
Oughts, Options, and Actualism.Frank Jackson & Robert Pargetter - 1986 - Philosophical Review 95 (2):233-255.
Proportionality in the Morality of War.Thomas Hurka - 2005 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 33 (1):34-66.
Value Receptacles.Richard Yetter Chappell - 2015 - Noûs 49 (2):322-332.

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Citations of this work BETA

Duty and Doubt.Seth Lazar - 2020 - Journal of Practical Ethics 8 (1):28-55.
Moral Sunk Costs in War and Self-Defence.Elad Uzan - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 71 (2):359-377.

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