At issue with Narveson is not the independence of persons, but an extreme form of ownership. Many people could be more independent with ownership of a moderate kind. All Narveson’s arguments depend on presupposing that extreme ownership has a special moral status.
In these three Tanner lectures, distinguished ethical theorist Allan Gibbard explores the nature of normative thought and the bases of ethics. In the first lecture he explores the role of intuitions in moral thinking and offers a way of thinking about the intuitive method of moral inquiry that both places this activity within the natural world and makes sense of it as an indispensable part of our lives as planners. In the second and third lectures he takes up the kind (...) of substantive ethical inquiry he has described in the first lecture, asking how we might live together on terms that none of us could reasonably reject. Since working at cross purposes loses fruits that might stem from cooperation, he argues, any consistent ethos that meets this test would be, in a crucial way, utilitarian. It would reconcile our individual aims to establish, in Kant's phrase, a "kingdom of ends." The volume also contains an introduction by Barry Stroud, the volume editor, critiques by Michael Bratman (Stanford University), John Broome (Oxford University), and F. M. Kamm (Harvard University), and Gibbard's responses. (shrink)
Arrow's Theorem, in its social choice function formulation, assumes that all nonempty finite subsets of the universal set of alternatives is potentially a feasible set. We demonstrate that the axioms in Arrow's Theorem, with weak Pareto strengthened to strong Pareto, are consistent if it is assumed that there is a prespecified alternative which is in every feasible set. We further show that if the collection of feasible sets consists of all subsets of alternatives containing a prespecified list of alternatives and (...) if there are at least three additional alternatives not on this list, replacing nondictatorship by anonymity results in an impossibility theorem. (shrink)
Rawls' Difference Principle asserts that a basic economic structure is just if it makes the worst off people as well off as is feasible. How well off someone is is to be measured by an ‘index’ of ‘primary social goods’. It is this index that gives content to the principle, and Rawls gives no adequate directions for constructing it. In this essay a version of the difference principle is proposed that fits much of what Rawls says, but that makes use (...) of no index. Instead of invoking an index of primary social goods, the principle formulated here invokes a partial ordering of prospects for opportunities. (shrink)
Given all the consequences of an act and the value of each of them, how can we find their value on the whole? In Utilitarianisms: Simple and General, Inquiry 13, 394–449, J. Howard Sobel offers two alternative suggestions. Here one of Sobel's suggestions is attacked and the other given new support. Where the number of consequences is finite, it is argued, their value is the sum of their basic intrinsic values: the basic intrinsic value of a state of affairs is (...) the value it has on its own account, and not in virtue of other states of affairs it entails. (shrink)