Prioritarianism and Single-Person Cases


In this paper we argue that the use of survey data or intuitions about single person cases as a dialectically neutral data point for favouring telic egalitarianism over prioritarianism has dim prospects for success. We take as a case study Otsuka and Voorhoeve (2009)'s now well known paper and show that it either is either argumentatively irrelevant or question-begging, depending on whether the survey data about people's judgements concerning single-person cases is interpreted as being prudential or moral in character. We suggest that this problem is likely to generalise to other ways of trying to use intuitions or survey data about single-person cases, where those data or intuitions are not just treated as further direct moral intuitions about prioritarianism and telic egalitarianism.



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Andrew Reisner
Uppsala University

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References found in this work

Weighing lives.John Broome - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Equality or Priority?Derek Parfit - 2002 - In Matthew Clayton & Andrew Williams (eds.), The Ideal of Equality. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 81-125.
Equality, priority, and compassion.Roger Crisp - 2003 - Ethics 113 (4):745-763.
John Broome, Weighing Lives. [REVIEW]Jacob Ross - 2007 - Philosophical Review 116 (4):663-666.

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