Philosophia:1-8 (2020)

Tom Dougherty (2013) argues that the following moral principles are inconsistent: (α) it is impermissible to benefit many people slightly rather than save someone’s life, and (β) it is permissible to risk someone’s life slightly to benefit them slightly. This inconsistency has highly counterintuitive consequences for non-consequentialist moral theories. However, Dougherty’s argument, the “Repetition Argument,” relies on a premise that ignores a morally important distinction between acting with statistical knowledge and acting with individualized knowledge. According to this premise, if it is permissible to make it near certain that a distribution obtains, then it is permissible to bring about that distribution. I will argue that this premise proves too much for the Repetition Argument, and so we should reject it. Finally, to further motivate my own objection, I show that a recent objection to the Repetition Argument by James R. Kirkpatrick (2018) does not resolve the inconsistency.
Keywords Risk  Beneficence  Chance  Aggregation  Statistical Knowledge  Permissibility
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-020-00233-2
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Aggregation, Beneficence, and Chance.Tom Dougherty - 2013 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 7 (2):1-19.

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