Consequentialism and Collective Action

Ethics (forthcoming)

Authors
Brian Hedden
University of Sydney
Abstract
Many consequentialists argue that you ought to do your part in collective action problems like climate change mitigation and ending factory farming because (i) all such problems are triggering cases, in which there is a threshold number of people such that the outcome will be worse if at least that many people act in a given way than if fewer do, and (ii) doing your part in a triggering case maximises expected value. I show that both (i) and (ii) are false: Some triggering cases cannot be solved by appeal to expected value, since they involve infinities, and some collective action problems are not triggering cases, since they involve parity. However, I argue that consequentialism can still generally prohibit failure to do your part in those collective action problems where we believe that so acting would be impermissible.
Keywords ethics  consequentialism  phenomenal sorites  utilitarianism  collective action  parity  incommensurability
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References found in this work BETA

Brainstorms.Daniel C. Dennett - 1978 - MIT Press.
Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1994 - Routledge.
Do I Make a Difference?Shelly Kagan - 2011 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 39 (2):105-141.
The Possibility of Parity.Ruth Chang - 2002 - Ethics 112 (4):659-688.

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