Diametros 53:150-166 (2017)

John R. Welch
Saint Louis University
Most ethical decisions are conditioned by formidable uncertainty. Decision makers may lack reliable information about relevant facts, the consequences of actions, and the reactions of other people. Resources for dealing with uncertainty are available from standard forms of decision theory, but successful application to decisions under risk requires a great deal of quantitative information: point-valued probabilities of states and point-valued utilities of outcomes. When this information is not available, this paper recommends the use of a form of decision theory that operates on a bare minimum of information inputs: comparative plausibilities of states and comparative utilities of outcomes. In addition, it proposes a comparative strategy for dealing with second-order uncertainty. The paper illustrates its proposal with reference to a well-known ethical dilemma: Kant’s life-saving lie.
Keywords Kant  decision theory  expected utility  plausibilistic expectation  plausibility  probability  probability of frequency  uncertainty  utility
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.13153/diam.53.0.1105
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,784
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

The Fixation of Belief.C. S. Peirce - 1877 - Popular Science Monthly 12 (1):1--15.
Abductive Reasoning.Douglas Neil Walton - 2004 - Tuscaloosa, AL, USA: University Alabama Press.
Elicitation of Personal Probabilities and Expectations.Leonard Savage - 1971 - Journal of the American Statistical Association 66 (336):783-801.

View all 17 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Decyzje w sytuacjach niepewności normatywnej.Tomasz Żuradzki - 2020 - Przeglad Filozoficzny - Nowa Seria 29 (2):53-72.
When Econs Are Human.John R. Welch - 2020 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (3):212-225.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Decision Making Under Great Uncertainty.Sven Ove Hansson - 1996 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 26 (3):369-386.
Decision Theory and Cognitive Choice.John R. Welch - 2011 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 1 (2):147-172.
Decision Making Under Great Uncertainty.Sven Ove Hansson - 1996 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 26 (3):369-386.
New Tools for Theory Choice and Theory Diagosis.John R. Welch - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):318-329.
New Tools for Theory Choice and Theory Diagnosis.John R. Welch - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):318-329.
Types of Uncertainty.Richard Bradley & Mareile Drechsler - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (6):1225-1248.
Meta-Reasoning in Making Moral Decisions Under Normative Uncertainty.Tomasz Żuradzki - 2016 - In Dima Mohammed & Marcin Lewiński (eds.), Argumentation and Reasoned Action. College Publications. pp. 1093-1104.
Uncertainty and the Ethics of Clinical Trials.Sven Ove Hansson - 2006 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 27 (2):149-167.
Moral Uncertainty and its Consequences.Ted Lockhart - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Trustee Decisions in Investment and Finance.Paul Weirich - 1988 - Journal of Business Ethics 7 (1-2):73 - 80.
Real-Life Decisions and Decision Theory.John R. Welch - 2012 - In Sabine Roeser, Rafaela Hillerbrand, Per Sandin & Martin Peterson (eds.), Handbook of Risk Theory. Springer.
The Politics of Uncertainty.Luciano Floridi - 2015 - Philosophy and Technology 28 (1):1-4.


Added to PP index

Total views
37 ( #297,284 of 2,463,136 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #299,108 of 2,463,136 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes