Many real-world agents recognise that they impose harms by choosing to emit carbon, e.g., by flying. Yet many do so anyway, and then attempt to make things right by offsetting those harms. Such offsetters typically believe that, by offsetting, they change the deontic status of their behaviour, making an otherwise impermissible action permissible. Do they succeed in practice? Some philosophers have argued that they do, since their offsets appear to reverse the adverse effects of their emissions. But we show that (...) they do not. In practice, standard carbon offsetting does not reverse the harms of the original action, nor does it even benefit the same group as was harmed. Standard moral theories hence deny that such offsetting succeeds. Indeed, we show that any moral theory that allows offsetting in this setting faces a dilemma between allowing any wrong to be offset, no matter how grievous, and recognising an implausibly sharp discontinuity between offsettable actions and non-offsettable actions. The most plausible response is to accept that carbon offsetting fails to right our climate wrongs. (shrink)
Waiting time is widely used in health and social policy to make resource allocation decisions, yet no general account of the moral significance of waiting time exists. We provide such an account. We argue that waiting time is not intrinsically morally significant, and that the first person in a queue for a resource does not ipso facto have a right to receive that resource first. However, waiting time can and sometimes should play a role in justifying allocation decisions. First, there (...) is a duty of fairness prohibiting line-cutting where a sufficiently just queue exists. Second, waiting time has several morally attractive features that can justify its incorporation into allocation schemes. Where candidates are in relevantly similar circumstances, allocating by waiting time is relatively efficient, maximizes distribution equality relative to other Pareto efficient distributions, and treats candidates fairly. The claim that allocation using waiting time is fair is controversial. Some have claimed that formal lotteries are a fairer way to select among equal beneficiaries. We argue that lotteries are no fairer than allocation based on waiting time when it is equiprobable how a prospective queue will be ordered. In practice, lotteries share many of the disadvantages of queues; which is fairer will depend on contingent features of the allocation scenario. The upshot is that first-come, first-served is in fact a just way to allocate resources in many of the cases where it seems pre-theoretically compelling, and waiting time has unique normative properties which frequently justify its incorporation into resource allocation schemes. (shrink)
One widely used method for allocating health care resources involves the use of cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) to rank treatments in terms of quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) gained. CEA has been criticized for discriminating against people with disabilities by valuing their lives less than those of non-disabled people. Avoiding discrimination seems to lead to the ’QALY trap’: we cannot value saving lives equally and still value raising quality of life. This paper reviews existing responses to the QALY trap and argues that all (...) are problematic. Instead, we argue that adopting a moderate form of prioritarianism avoids the QALY trap and disability discrimination. (shrink)
Political short-termism costs the global economy hundreds of billions to trillions of dollars annually, and leads to many millions of deaths from disasters and suboptimal spending. In this paper, I propose a futures assembly explicitly incentivised to promote the interests of future generations as a promising strategy to ameliorate short-termism. The assembly I propose is governed by citizens randomly selected from among the populace, who are rewarded in the future to the extent that they successfully promote the welfare of future (...) generations. The most initially promising such retrospective accountability mechanism is an iterated mechanism, in which each generation of policymakers rewards the previous generation for their policy choices and for their own evaluation of the previous generation. Such an assembly, supplemented with the duties, powers, and tools that I describe, and with appropriate support from archivists and experts, may manage to represent generations many years into the future. (shrink)
This chapter starts from the claim that the state is plagued with problems of political short-termism: excessive priority given to near-term benefits at the expense of benefits further in thefuture. One possible mechanism to reduce short-termism involves apportioning greater relative political influence to the young, since younger citizens generally have greater additional life expectancy than older citizens and thus it looks reasonable to expect that they have preferences that are extended further into the future. But the chapter shows that this (...) is unlikely to make states significantly less short-termist: no empirical relationship has been found between age and willingness to support long-termist policies. Instead, the chapter proposes a more promising age-based mechanism. States should develop youth citizens’ assemblies that ensure accountability to future generations through a scheme of retrospective accountability. (shrink)
We submit this brief in support of the Nonhuman Rights Project’s efforts to secure habeas corpus relief for the elephant named Happy. The Supreme Court, Bronx County, declined to grant habeas corpus relief and order Happy’s transfer to an elephant sanctuary, relying, in part, on previous decisions that denied habeas relief for the NhRP’s chimpanzee clients, Kiko and Tommy. Those decisions use incompatible conceptions of ‘person’ which, when properly understood, are either philosophically inadequate or, in fact, compatible with Happy’s personhood.
Growing awareness of the ethical implications of neuroscience in the early years of the 21st century led to the emergence of the new academic field of “neuroethics,” which studies the ethical implications of developments in the neurosciences. However, despite the acceleration and evolution of neuroscience research on nonhuman animals, the unique ethical issues connected with neuroscience research involving nonhuman animals remain underdiscussed. This is a significant oversight given the central place of animal models in neuroscience. To respond to these concerns, (...) the Center for Neuroscience and Society and the Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society at the University of Pennsylvania hosted a workshop on the “Neuroethics of Animal Research” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the workshop, expert speakers and attendees discussed ethical issues arising from neuroscience research involving nonhuman animals, including the use of animal models in the study of pain and psychiatric conditions, animal brain-machine interfaces, animal–animal chimeras, cerebral organoids, and the relevance of neuroscience to debates about personhood. This paper highlights important emerging ethical issues based on the discussions at the workshop. This paper includes recommendations for research in the United States from the authors based on the discussions at the workshop, loosely following the format of the 2 Gray Matters reports on neuroethics published by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. (shrink)
Enclosed is a guidebook for philanthropists, advocates, and policymakers who want to do the most good possible. This book introduces the philosophy of “longtermism,” the idea that it is particularly important that we act now to safeguard future generations. -/- The future is vast in scale: depending on our choices in the coming centuries, the future could stretch for eons or it could dwindle into oblivion, and be inordinately good or inordinately bad. And yet future generations are utterly disenfranchised in (...) the world today: they cannot participate in our markets, our movements, or our civil society. This presents 21st Century philanthropists with a historically unprecedented opportunity to do good by protecting the long-term future. -/- The essays within are from the pioneers who have developed the intellectual foundations of longtermism, as well as the experts and advocates who are now putting it into practice. Readers will hear the case for longtermism from professors at the University of Oxford and Longview’s own founders; longtermist policy proposals from political philosophers, members of the House of Lords, and the All-party Parliamentary Group for Future Generations; the case for work on biosecurity, artificial intelligence, and climate change from leading experts; and the first ever essay on longtermist cultural change from the former Chief of Cabinet to the Finnish President. -/- Together, these essays chart the path forward toward maximising the good that we do for our grandchildren, our grandchildren’s grandchildren, and every generation beyond. (shrink)