Economics and Philosophy 22 (3):335-363 (2006)

David McCarthy
University of Hong Kong
Utilitarianism and prioritarianism make a strong assumption about the uniqueness of measures of how good things are for people, or for short, individual goodness measures. But it is far from obvious that the presupposition is correct. The usual response to this problem assumes that individual goodness measures are determined independently of our discourse about distributive theories. This article suggests reversing this response. What determines the set of individual goodness measures just is the body of platitudes we accept about distributive theories. When prioritarianism is taken to have an ex ante form, this approach vindicates the utilitarian and prioritarian presupposition, and provides an answer to an argument due to Broome that for different reasons to do with measurement, prioritarianism is meaningless.
Keywords Prioritarianism  Priority view  Utilitarianism  Fairness  Ex ante prioritarianism  Measurement  Utility  Wellbeing  Diamond
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DOI 10.1017/S0266267106001015
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References found in this work BETA

New Work for a Theory of Universals.David Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
How to Define Theoretical Terms.David Lewis - 1970 - Journal of Philosophy 67 (13):427-446.
New Work For a Theory of Universals.David Lewis - 1983 - In D. H. Mellor & Alex Oliver (eds.), Properties. Oxford University Press.
Weighing Lives.John Broome - 2004 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Priority View.David McCarthy - 2017 - Economics and Philosophy 33 (2):215–57.
Utilitarianism and Prioritarianism II.David McCarthy - 2008 - Economics and Philosophy 24 (1):1-33.
Prioritarianism: A Response to Critics.Matthew D. Adler & Nils Holtug - 2019 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 18 (2):101-144.
Relative Priority.Lara Buchak - forthcoming - Philosophy and Economics.
Concerns for the Poorly Off in Ordering Risky Prospects.Luc Bovens - 2015 - Economics and Philosophy 31 (3):397-429.

View all 10 citations / Add more citations

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