The Asian Disease Problem and the Ethical Implications Of Prospect Theory

Noûs (forthcoming)
Daniel Guevara
University of California, Santa Cruz
We discuss the bearing of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky's Prospect Theory on some central issues in ethics. It has been argued that the theory provides a better explanation of our intuitive responses to some important ethical decision cases—like some famous cases put by Philippa Foot and others—than traditional and widely acknowledged ethical principles do. In this way, Prospect Theory contributes to the new wave of skepticism, emanating from the social sciences, about the role of intuitive judgments in ethical theory and philosophy more generally. We focus on Kahneman and Tversky's famous Asian Disease Problem. We show that the case fails to support Prospect Theory over traditional ethical theory as an explanation of the most common intuitive responses to the case, and, moreover, fails as an account of the most common intuitive responses to Foot's famous trolley case and related cases. We maintain that careful critical attention to all these cases shows that Prospect Theory has not made a successful incursion into ethics, whatever it may have established about non-ethical decision-making.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/nous.12227
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 35,829
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Character.Maria Merritt, John Doris & Gilbert Harman - 2010 - In John Doris (ed.), The Moral Psychology Handbook. Oxford University Press.
Philosophical Intuitions.Mark Fedyk - 2009 - Studia Philosophica Estonica 2 (2):54-80.

View all 9 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision Under Risk.Daniel Kahneman & Amos Tversky - 1979 - Econometrica: Journal of the Econometric Society:263--291.
Epistemic Decision Theory.Hilary Greaves - 2013 - Mind 122 (488):915-952.
The Uses and Abuses of Moral Theory in Bioethics.Raymond de Vries - 2011 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (4):419-430.
On Probabilities and Loss Aversion.Horst Zank - 2010 - Theory and Decision 68 (3):243-261.


Added to PP index

Total downloads
13 ( #441,631 of 2,293,762 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #253,177 of 2,293,762 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature