In Adrian Walsh, Säde Hormio & Duncan Purves (eds.), The Ethical Underpinnings of Climate Economics. Oxford: Routledge. pp. 87-102 (2017)

Kian Mintz-Woo
University College, Cork
When probability discounting (or probability weighting), one multiplies the value of an outcome by one's subjective probability that the outcome will obtain in decision-making. The broader import of defending probability discounting is to help justify cost-benefit analyses in contexts such as climate change. This chapter defends probability discounting under risk both negatively, from arguments by Simon Caney (2008, 2009), and with a new positive argument. First, in responding to Caney, I argue that small costs and benefits need to be evaluated, and that viewing practices at the social level is too coarse-grained. Second, I argue for probability discounting using a distinction between causal responsibility and moral responsibility. Moral responsibility can be cashed out in terms of blameworthiness and praiseworthiness, while causal responsibility obtains in full for any effect which is part of a causal chain linked to one's act. With this distinction in hand, unlike causal responsibility, moral responsibility can be seen as coming in degrees. My argument is, given that we can limit our deliberation and consideration to that which we are morally responsible for and that our moral responsibility for outcomes is limited by our subjective probabilities, our subjective probabilities can ground probability discounting.
Keywords Climate Change  Applied Ethics  Responsibility  Discounting  Simon Caney  Probability  Rationality  Cost-Benefit Analysis  human rights
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

What Do Climate Change Winners Owe, and to Whom?Kian Mintz-Woo & Justin Leroux - 2021 - Economics and Philosophy 37 (3):462-483.
The Irrelevance of the Risk-Uncertainty Distinction.Dominic Roser - 2017 - Science and Engineering Ethics 23 (5):1387-1407.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Intergenerational Impartiality: Replacing Discounting by Probability Weighting. [REVIEW]Yew-Kwang Ng - 2005 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 18 (3):237-257.
Climate Change, Intergenerational Equity and the Social Discount Rate.Simon Caney - 2014 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 13 (4):320-342.
Values in Time Discounting.Conrad Heilmann - 2017 - Science and Engineering Ethics 23 (5):1333-1349.
Explanatory Coherence and the Induction of Properties.Steven A. Sloman - 1997 - Thinking and Reasoning 3 (2):81 – 110.
Climate Change and the Future: Discounting for Time, Wealth, and Risk.Simon Caney - 2009 - Journal of Social Philosophy 40 (2):163-186.
The Irrelevance of the Risk-Uncertainty Distinction.Dominic Roser - 2017 - Science and Engineering Ethics 23 (5):1387-1407.
Cosmopolitan Justice, Responsibility, and Global Climate Change.Simon Caney - 2005 - Leiden Journal of International Law 18 (4):747-775.
Foundations of Probability.Rachael Briggs - 2015 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 44 (6):625-640.


Added to PP index

Total views
505 ( #15,938 of 2,461,403 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
47 ( #18,608 of 2,461,403 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes