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  1. Formal Decision Theory and Majority Rule.Glen O. Allen - 1982 - Ethics 92 (2):199-206.
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  2. Self Torture and Group Beneficence.Frank Arntzenius & David McCarthy - 1997 - Erkenntnis 47 (1):129-144.
    Moral puzzles about actions which bring about very small or what are said to be imperceptible harms or benefits for each of a large number of people are well known. Less well known is an argument by Warren Quinn that standard theories of rationality can lead an agent to end up torturing himself or herself in a completely foreseeable way, and that this shows that standard theories of rationality need to be revised. We show where Quinn's argument goes wrong, and (...)
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  3. Uncertainty and Probability Within Utilitarian Theory.Jonathan Baron - 2017 - Diametros 53:6-25.
    Probability is a central concept in utilitarian moral theory, almost impossible to do without. I attempt to clarify the role of probability, so that we can be clear about what we are aiming for when we apply utilitarian theory to real cases. I point out the close relationship between utilitarianism and expected-utility theory, a normative standard for individual decision-making. I then argue that the distinction between “ambiguity” and risk is a matter of perception. We do not need this distinction in (...)
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  4. Small Contributions.Robert Bass - manuscript
    Many of the world's problems--severe poverty and starvation, global warming, religious war, oppressive and tyrannical regimes--are large, well beyond what any ordinary person might have a significant impact upon. We are at most in a position to make small contributions. This fact is behind a seductive argument: there is nothing we can do about the large problems; since we cannot do anything about the large problems, it is not true that we ought to do anything; therefore, we can, in good (...)
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  5. Temptation and the Will.John Bigelow, Susan M. Dodds & Robert Pargetter - 1990 - American Philosophical Quarterly 27 (1):39-49.
    The authors argue, against Frank Jackson, that weakness (and strength) of will involves higher-order mental states. The authors hold that this is compatible with a decision-theoretic belief-desire psychology of human action.
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  6. The Epistemic and Informational Requirements of Utilitarianism.Hugh Breakey - 2009 - Utilitas 21 (1):72-99.
    A recurring objection confronting utilitarianism is that its dictates require information that lies beyond the bounds of human epistemic wherewithal. Utilitarians require reliable knowledge of the social consequences of various policies, and of people’s preferences and utilities. Agreeing partway with the sceptics, I concur that the general rules-of-thumb offered by social science do not provide sufficient justification for the utilitarian legislator to rationally recommend a particular political regime, such as liberalism. Actual data about human preference-structures and utilities is required to (...)
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  7. Why High-Risk, Non-Expected-Utility-Maximising Gambles Can Be Rational and Beneficial: The Case of HIV Cure Studies.Lara Buchak - 2016 - Journal of Medical Ethics (2):1-6.
    Some early phase clinical studies of candidate HIV cure and remission interventions appear to have adverse medical risk–benefit ratios for participants. Why, then, do people participate? And is it ethically permissible to allow them to participate? Recent work in decision theory sheds light on both of these questions, by casting doubt on the idea that rational individuals prefer choices that maximise expected utility, and therefore by casting doubt on the idea that researchers have an ethical obligation not to enrol participants (...)
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  8. Retributivism, Consequentialism, and the Risk of Punishing the Innocent: The Troublesome Case of Proxy Crimes.Piotr Bystranowski - 2017 - Diametros 53:26-49.
    This paper discusses differences between two major schools in philosophy of criminal law, retributivism and consequentialism, with regard to the risk of punishing the innocent. As it is argued, the main point of departure between these two camps in this respect lies in their attitude towards the high evidentiary threshold in a criminal trial: while retributivism seems to strongly support setting this standard high, consequentialists may find it desirable to relax it in some cases. This discussion is set in the (...)
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  9. The Climate Change Debate: An Epistemic and Ethical Enquiry.David Coady & Richard Corry - 2013 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    Two kinds of philosophical questions are raised by the current public debate about climate change; epistemic questions (Whom should I believe? Is climate science a genuine science?), and ethical questions (Who should bear the burden? Must I sacrifice if others do not?). Although the former have been central to this debate, professional philosophers have dealt almost exclusively with the latter. This book is the first to address both the epistemic and ethical questions raised by the climate change debate and examine (...)
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  10. Modelling the Moral Dimension of Decisions.Mark Colyvan, Damian Cox & Katie Steele - 2010 - Noûs 44 (3):503-529.
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  11. Environmental Ethics and Decision Theory: Fellow Travellers or Bitter Enemies?Mark Colyvan & Katie Steele - 2011 - In Kevin deLaplante, Bryson Brown & Kent Peacock (eds.), Philosophy of Ecology. Elsevier Science Publishers. pp. 285--300.
    On the face of it, ethics and decision theory give quite different advice about what the best course of action is in a given situation. In this paper we examine this alleged conflict in the realm of environmental decision-making. We focus on a couple of places where ethics and decision theory might be thought to be offering conflicting advice: environmental triage and carbon trading. We argue that the conflict can be seen as conflicts about other things (like appropriate temporal scales (...)
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  12. What Matters and How It Matters: A Choice-Theoretic Representation of Moral Theories.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2017 - Philosophical Review 126 (4):421-479.
    We present a new “reason-based” approach to the formal representation of moral theories, drawing on recent decision-theoretic work. We show that any moral theory within a very large class can be represented in terms of two parameters: a specification of which properties of the objects of moral choice matter in any given context, and a specification of how these properties matter. Reason-based representations provide a very general taxonomy of moral theories, as differences among theories can be attributed to differences in (...)
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  13. Where Do Preferences Come From?Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2013 - International Journal of Game Theory 42 (3):613-637.
    Rational choice theory analyzes how an agent can rationally act, given his or her preferences, but says little about where those preferences come from. Preferences are usually assumed to be fixed and exogenously given. Building on related work on reasons and rational choice, we describe a framework for conceptualizing preference formation and preference change. In our model, an agent's preferences are based on certain "motivationally salient" properties of the alternatives over which the preferences are held. Preferences may change as new (...)
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  14. Sabine Roeser, Rafaela Hillerbrand, Per Sandin, Martin Peterson (Eds): Handbook of Risk Theory: Epistemology, Decision Theory, Ethics, and Social Implications of Risk: Springer, 2012, XIX, 1187 Pp, 85 Illus., 40 in Color; 2 Volumes. [REVIEW]N. Doorn - 2013 - Science and Engineering Ethics 19 (3):1409-1411.
  15. Actual Utility, The Objection From Impracticality, and the Move to Expected Utility.Fred Feldman - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 129 (1):49-79.
  16. Assessment of Strategies for Evaluating Extreme Risks.James Franklin & S. Sisson - manuscript
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  17. Theoretical and Practical Reason: A Critical Rationalist View.Danny Frederick - manuscript
    If the task of theoretical reason is to discover truth, or reasons for belief, then theoretical reason is impossible. Attempts to circumvent that by appeal to probabilities are self-defeating. If the task of practical reason is to discover what we ought to do or what actions are desirable or valuable, then practical reason is impossible. Appeals to the subjective ought or to subjective probabilities are self-defeating. Adapting Karl Popper, I argue that the task of theoretical reason is to obtain theories (...)
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  18. Consequentialist Foundations for Expected Utility.Peter J. Hammond - 1988 - Theory and Decision 25 (1):25-78.
    Behaviour norms are considered for decision trees which allow both objective probabilities and uncertain states of the world with unknown probabilities. Terminal nodes have consequences in a given domain. Behaviour is required to be consistent in subtrees. Consequentialist behaviour, by definition, reveals a consequence choice function independent of the structure of the decision tree. It implies that behaviour reveals a revealed preference ordering satisfying both the independence axiom and a novel form of sure-thing principle. Continuous consequentialist behaviour must be expected (...)
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  19. The Harmful Influence of Decision Theory on Ethics.Sven Ove Hansson - 2010 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (5):585-593.
    In the last half century, decision theory has had a deep influence on moral theory. Its impact has largely been beneficial. However, it has also given rise to some problems, two of which are discussed here. First, issues such as risk-taking and risk imposition have been left out of ethics since they are believed to belong to decision theory, and consequently the ethical aspects of these issues have not been treated in either discipline. Secondly, ethics has adopted the decision-theoretical idea (...)
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  20. Rule Utilitarianism and Decision Theory.JohnC Harsanyi - 1977 - Erkenntnis 11 (1):25 - 53.
    The purpose of this paper is to show how some of the controversial questions concerning utilitarianism can be clarified by the modelling techniques and the other analytical tools of decision theory (and, sometimes, of game theory). It is suggested that the moral rules of utilitarian ethics have a logical status similar to that of the normative rules (theorems) of such formal normative disciplines as decision theory and game theory.The paper argues that social utility should be defined, not in hedonistic or (...)
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  21. Risk, Uncertainty and the Unprofitability of Compounding Probabilities.A. G. Hart - 1942 - In O. Lange, F. McIntyre & T. O. Yntema (eds.), Studies in Mathematical Economics and Econometrics. University of Chicago Press.
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  22. Success Conditions for Nudges: A Methodological Critique of Libertarian Paternalism.Conrad Heilmann - 2014 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 4 (1):1-20.
    This paper provides a methodological analysis of Libertarian Paternalism, as put forward in the book Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein (Yale University Press, 2008). Libertarian Paternalism aims to use the accumulated findings of behavioural economics in order to assist decision-makers to make better choices. The philosophical debate about this proposal has focused on normative issues with regards to this proposal. This paper analyses Libertarian Paternalism descriptively and points out four methodological conditions for successful Nudges. On that basis, a (...)
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  23. Decision Theory and Health Resource Allocations.Ruth B. Hoppe - 1983 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 4 (2):193-205.
    If it can be agreed that health care resources are finite, it follows that choices between competing needs must be made. Cost utility analysis is an application of decision theory which has been proposed as a strategy for making difficult social decisions about health resource allocations. This method is heavily dependent upon the measurement of social utilities for various health outcomes. Recent work in cognitive psychology suggests that there are important sources of distortion in such measurement. Ethical implications of application (...)
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  24. When Do Risky Choices Justify Inequality?Keith Hyams - 2017 - Diametros 53:60-74.
    Luck egalitarianism is the view that inequalities are justified when and only when a particular condition is met. Recent years have seen considerable debate about the exact nature of the risky choices thought by luck egalitarians to justify inequality. All positions in the debate emphasise the importance of choice, but they differ in the precise details of how choice features in the inequality-justifying condition. The present paper argues for a novel view about the conditions under which risky choices should justify (...)
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  25. Moral Conditions for Methodologically Rational Decisions.Jan F. Jacko - 2018 - In Marek Hetmański (ed.), Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities. Brill Rodopi. pp. 209–223.
    The study’s main thesis is that respect for some moral values is a condition for methodologically rational decisions, namely, decisions which do not satisfy the condition are either not methodologically rational at all, or not fully rational. The paper shows supporting arguments for the thesis in terms of the philosophical theories by Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, Tadeusz Kotarbiński, Max Weber, Jean-Paul Sartre and some other thinkers. Their presentation undergoes phenomenological analysis of the phenomenon of decision making.
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  26. Decision-Theoretic Consequentialism and the Nearest and Dearest Objection.Frank Jackson - 1991 - Ethics 101 (3):461-482.
  27. Some Limits of Decision-Theory in Bioethics: Rights, Ends, and Thick Concepts.Stephen R. Latham - 2006 - American Journal of Bioethics 6 (3):56 – 58.
  28. Limited Aggregation and Risk.Seth Lazar - forthcoming - Philosophy and Public Affairs.
    Many of us believe (1) Saving a life is more important than averting any number of headaches. But what about risky cases? Surely: (2) In a single choice, if the risk of death is low enough, and the number of headaches at stake high enough, one should avert the headaches rather than avert the risk of death. And yet, if we will face enough iterations of cases like that in (2), in the long run some of those small risks of (...)
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  29. Moral Sunk Costs.Seth Lazar - forthcoming - The Philosophical Quarterly.
    Suppose that you are trying to pursue a morally worthy goal, but cannot do so without incurring some moral costs. At the outset, you believed that achieving your goal was worth no more than a given moral cost. And suppose that, time having passed, you have wrought only harm and injustice, without advancing your cause. You can now reflect on whether to continue. Your goal is within reach. What's more, you believe you can achieve it by incurring—from this point forward—no (...)
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  30. Risky Killing: How Risks Worsen Violations of Objective Rights.Seth Lazar - forthcoming - Journal of Moral Philosophy.
    I argue that riskier killings of innocent people are, other things equal, objectively worse than less risky killings. I ground these views in considerations of disrespect and security. Killing someone more riskily shows greater disrespect for him by more grievously undervaluing his standing and interests, and more seriously undermines his security by exposing a disposition to harm him across all counterfactual scenarios in which the probability of killing an innocent person is that high or less. I argue that the salient (...)
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  31. In Dubious Battle: Uncertainty and the Ethics of Killing.Seth Lazar - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (4):859-883.
    How should deontologists concerned with the ethics of killing apply their moral theory when we don’t know all the facts relevant to the permissibility of our action? Though the stakes couldn’t be higher, and uncertainty is endemic where killing is concerned, few deontologists have an answer to this question. In this paper I canvass two possibilities: that we should apply a threshold standard, equivalent to the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard applied for criminal punishment; and that we should fit our (...)
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  32. Anton's Game: Deontological Decision Theory for an Iterated Decision Problem.Seth Lazar - 2017 - Utilitas 29 (1):88-109.
    How should deontologists approach decision-making under uncertainty, for an iterated decision problem? In this paper I explore the shortcomings of a simple expected value approach, using a novel example to raise questions about attitudes to risk, the moral significance of tiny probabilities, the independent moral reasons against imposing risks, the morality of sunk costs, and the role of agent-relativity in iterated decision problems.
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  33. Deontological Decision Theory and Agent-Centered Options.Seth Lazar - 2017 - Ethics 127 (3):579-609.
    Deontologists have long been upbraided for lacking an account of justified decision- making under risk and uncertainty. One response is to develop a deontological decision theory—a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for an act’s being permissible given an agent’s imperfect information. In this article, I show that deontologists can make more use of regular decision theory than some might have thought, but that we must adapt decision theory to accommodate agent- centered options—permissions to favor or sacrifice our own interests, (...)
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  34. Axiological Absolutism and Risk.Seth Lazar & Chad Lee‐Stronach - forthcoming - Noûs.
    Consider the following claim: given the choice between saving a life and preventing any number of people from temporarily experiencing a mild headache, you should always save the life. Many moral theorists accept this claim. In doing so, they commit themselves to some form of ‘moral absolutism’: the view that there are some moral considerations that cannot be outweighed by any number of lesser moral considerations. In contexts of certainty, it is clear what moral absolutism requires of you. However, what (...)
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  35. Explaining Norms, by Geoffrey Brennan, Lina Eriksson, Robert E. Goodin, and Nicholas Southwood. [REVIEW]Y. Levy - 2015 - Mind 124 (494):612-616.
  36. Moral Uncertainty and its Consequences.Ted Lockhart - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
    We are often uncertain how to behave morally in complex situations. In this controversial study, Ted Lockhart contends that moral philosophy has failed to address how we make such moral decisions. Adapting decision theory to the task of decision-making under moral uncertainly, he proposes that we should not always act how we feel we ought to act, and that sometimes we should act against what we feel to be morally right. Lockhart also discusses abortion extensively and proposes new ways to (...)
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  37. Global Duties in the Face of Uncertainty.Sylvie Loriaux - 2017 - Diametros 53:75-95.
    This paper aims to highlight the role played by uncertainties in global justice theories. It will start by identifying four kinds of uncertainties that could potentially have an impact on the nature, content and very existence of global duties: first, uncertainties regarding the causes of global injustices; second, uncertainties regarding the consequences of global justice initiatives; third, uncertainties pertaining to the 'imperfect' character of certain global duties; and fourth, uncertainties regarding the conduct of others. It will discuss each of these (...)
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  38. Introduction: The Relevance of Rational Decision Theory for Ethics. [REVIEW]Christoph Lumer - 2010 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (5):485-496.
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  39. Moral Desirability and Rational Decision.Christoph Lumer - 2010 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (5):561-584.
    Being a formal and general as well as the most widely accepted approach to practical rationality, rational decision theory should be crucial for justifying rational morals. In particular, acting morally should also be rational in decision theoretic terms. After defending this thesis, in the critical part of the paper two strategies to develop morals following this insight are criticized: game theoretical ethics of cooperation and ethical intuitionism. The central structural objections to ethics of cooperation are that they too directly aim (...)
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  40. Utilitarianism and Prioritarianism II.David McCarthy - 2008 - Economics and Philosophy 24 (1):1-33.
    A natural formalization of the priority view is presented which results from adding expected utility theory to the main ideas of the priority view. The result is ex post prioritarianism. But ex post prioritarianism entails that in a world containing just one person, it is sometimes better for that person to do what is strictly worse for herself. This claim may appear to be implausible. But the deepest objection to ex post prioritarianism has to do with meaning: ex post prioritarianism (...)
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  41. Measuring Life's Goodness.David McCarthy - 2007 - Philosophical Books 48 (4):303-319.
    Philosophers often assume that we can somehow quantitatively measure how good things are for people. But what does such talk mean? And what are the measures? In *Weighing Goods* John Broome offers one treatment of these questions. In his later *Weighing Lives* he offers a different treatment. This article discusses both positions but advocates a third. But while the three positions disagree about matters of meaning, they agree about the form of the measures. Roughly speaking, they are such that the (...)
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  42. Utilitarianism with and Without Expected Utility.David McCarthy, Kalle Mikkola & Teruji Thomas - 2016 - MPRA Paper No. 79315.
    We give two social aggregation theorems under conditions of risk, one for constant population cases, the other an extension to variable populations. Intra and interpersonal comparisons are encoded in a single `individual preorder'. The individual preorder then uniquely determines the social preorder. The theorems have features that may be considered characteristic of Harsanyi-style utilitarianism, such as indifference to ex ante and ex post equality. If in addition the individual preorder satisfi es expected utility, the social preorder must be represented by (...)
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  43. Review: Agency and Deontic Logic. [REVIEW]Paul McNamara - 2004 - Mind 113 (449):179-185.
  44. The Impartial Observer Theorem of Social Ethics.Philippe Mongin - 2001 - Economics and Philosophy 17 (2):147-179.
    Following a long-standing philosophical tradition, impartiality is a distinctive and determining feature of moral judgments, especially in matters of distributive justice. This broad ethical tradition was revived in welfare economics by Vickrey, and above all, Harsanyi, under the form of the so-called Impartial Observer Theorem. The paper offers an analytical reconstruction of this argument and a step-wise philosophical critique of its premisses. It eventually provides a new formal version of the theorem based on subjective probability.
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  45. Plural Voting for the Twenty-First Century.Thomas Mulligan - 2018 - Philosophical Quarterly 68 (271):286-306.
    Recent political developments cast doubt on the wisdom of democratic decision-making. Brexit, the Colombian people's (initial) rejection of peace with the FARC, and the election of Donald Trump suggest that the time is right to explore alternatives to democracy. In this essay, I describe and defend the epistocratic system of government which is, given current theoretical and empirical knowledge, most likely to produce optimal political outcomes—or at least better outcomes than democracy produces. To wit, we should expand the suffrage as (...)
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  46. How to Be an Ex-Post Egalitarian and an Ex-Ante Paretian.Ittay Nissan-Rozen - 2017 - Analysis 77 (3):550-558.
    It is well known that there is a conflict between three intuitive principles for the evaluation of risky prospects in distributional contexts, Ex-Post Egalitarianism, Ex-Ante Pareto and Dominance. In this paper, I return to Peter Diamond’s suggestion that we reject Dominance as a principle of rationality in distributional contexts and present a new argument in support of this position. The argument is based on an observation regarding the right way for a distributor to weigh reasons for actions. In some cases, (...)
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  47. Against Moral Hedging.Ittay Nissan-Rozen - 2015 - Economics and Philosophy (3):1-21.
    It has been argued by several philosophers that a morally motivated rational agent who has to make decisions under conditions of moral uncertainty ought to maximize expected moral value in his choices, where the expectation is calculated relative to the agent's moral uncertainty. I present a counter-example to this thesis and to a larger family of decision rules for choice under conditions of moral uncertainty. Based on this counter-example, I argue against the thesis and suggest a reason for its failure (...)
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  48. On the Elusive Notion of Meta-Agreement.V. Ottonelli & D. Porello - 2013 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 12 (1):68-92.
    Public deliberation has been defended as a rational and noncoercive way to overcome paradoxical results from democratic voting, by promoting consensus on the available alternatives on the political agenda. Some critics have argued that full consensus is too demanding and inimical to pluralism and have pointed out that single-peakedness, a much less stringent condition, is sufficient to overcome voting paradoxes. According to these accounts, deliberation can induce single-peakedness through the creation of a ‘meta-agreement’, that is, agreement on the dimension according (...)
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  49. 11. Decision Theory and Life Choices.Russell Pannier - 1999 - Logos. Anales Del Seminario de Metafísica [Universidad Complutense de Madrid, España] 2 (4).
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  50. Choosing for Changing Selves.Richard Pettigrew - manuscript
    *This is the first draft of this book* -/- What you value and the extent to which you value it changes over the course of your life. A person might currently greatly value pursuing philosophy, and value spending time in nature much less; but, having watched their parents as they have grown older, and noting that they are very much like their parents, that person might have good reason to think that they will value the pursuit of philosophy much less (...)
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