Utilitarianism and prioritarianism II

Economics and Philosophy 24 (1):1-33 (2008)
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A natural formalization of the priority view is presented which results from adding expected utility theory to the main ideas of the priority view. The result is ex post prioritarianism. But ex post prioritarianism entails that in a world containing just one person, it is sometimes better for that person to do what is strictly worse for herself. This claim may appear to be implausible. But the deepest objection to ex post prioritarianism has to do with meaning: ex post prioritarianism is not a genuine alternative to utilitarianism in the first place. By contrast, ex ante prioritarianism is defensible. But its motivation is very different from the usual rationales offered for the priority view. Given their hostility to egalitarianism, most supporters of the priority view have not provided reasons to reject utilitarianism.



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David McCarthy
University of Hong Kong

Citations of this work

Decision under normative uncertainty.Franz Dietrich & Brian Jabarian - 2022 - Economics and Philosophy 38 (3):372-394.
Another Defence of the Priority View.Derek Parfit - 2012 - Utilitas 24 (3):399-440.
Prioritarianism: A response to critics.Matthew D. Adler & Nils Holtug - 2019 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 18 (2):101-144.

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References found in this work

Counterpart theory and quantified modal logic.David K. Lewis - 1968 - Journal of Philosophy 65 (5):113-126.
Weighing lives.John Broome - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Natural reasons: personality and polity.Susan L. Hurley - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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