Noûs 53 (3):613-638 (2019)

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

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 53,682
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Experimental Philosophy.Joshua Knobe - 2007 - The Philosophers' Magazine 50:72-73.
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

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision Under Risk.D. Kahneman & A. Tversky - 1979 - Econometrica: Journal of the Econometric Society:263--291.
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 views
31 ( #319,480 of 2,349,382 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #510,581 of 2,349,382 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes