Erkenntnis 62 (3):321-351 (2005)

Gerald Lang
University of Leeds
John Taurek famously argued that, in ‘conflict cases’, where we are confronted with a smaller and a larger group of individuals, and can choose which group to save from harm, we should toss a coin, rather than saving the larger group. This is primarily because coin-tossing is fairer: it ensures that each individual, regardless of the group to which he or she belongs, has an equal chance of being saved. This article provides a new response to Taurek’s argument. It proposes that there are two possible types of unfairness that have to be avoided in conflict cases, as far as possible: ‘selection unfairness’, which is the unfairness of not giving individuals an equal chance of being saved; and ‘outcome unfairness’, which is the unfairness of not actually saving them, when others are saved. Since saving the greater number generates less outcome unfa-irness than coin-tossing, it is argued that, in many conflict cases, fairness demands that we save the greater number.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Ethics   Logic   Ontology
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DOI 10.1007/s10670-004-4499-y
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References found in this work BETA

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Should the Numbers Count?John Taurek - 1977 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 6 (4):293-316.
Inequality.Larry S. Temkin - 1993 - Oxford University Press.
Inequality.Larry S. Temkin - 1986 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 15 (2):99-121.
Equal Justice.Eric Rakowski - 1991 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Numbers Scepticism, Equal Chances and Pluralism: Taurek Revisited.Gerald Lang & Rob Lawlor - 2016 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 15 (3):298-315.
In Defense of Batman: Reply to Bradley.Gerald Lang & Rob Lawlor - 2013 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (3):1-7.
Giving Each Person Her Due: Taurek Cases and Non-Comparative Justice.Alan Thomas - 2012 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (5):661-676.

View all 9 citations / Add more citations

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