Can Consequentialists Honour the Special Moral Status of Persons?

Utilitas 22 (4):434-446 (2010)
It is widely believed that consequentialists are committed to the claim that persons are mere containers for well-being. In this article I challenge this view by proposing a new version of consequentialism, according to which the identities of persons matter. The new theory, two-dimensional prioritarianism, is a natural extension of traditional prioritarianism. Two-dimensional prioritarianism holds that wellbeing matters more for persons who are at a low absolute level than for persons who are at a higher level and that it is worse to be deprived of a given number of units than it is good to gain the same number of units, even if the new distribution is a permutation of the original one. If a fixed amount of well-being is transferred from one person to another and then transferred back again, two-dimensional prioritarianism implies that it would have been better to preserve the status quo
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DOI 10.1017/S0953820810000336
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John Rawls (1974). The Independence of Moral Theory. Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 48:5 - 22.

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