Affordability and Non-Perfectionism in Moral Action

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (4):973-991 (2019)

Authors
Annette Rid
University of Zürich
Benedict Rumbold
Nottingham University
James Wilson
University College London
Abstract
One rationale policy-makers sometimes give for declining to fund a service or intervention is on the grounds that it would be ‘unaffordable’, which is to say, that the total cost of providing the service or intervention for all eligible recipients would exceed the budget limit. But does the mere fact that a service or intervention is unaffordable present a reason not to fund it? Thus far, the philosophical literature has remained largely silent on this issue. However, in this article, we consider this kind of thinking in depth. Albeit with certain important caveats, we argue that the use of affordability criteria in matters of public financing commits what Parfit might have called a ‘mistake in moral mathematics’. First, it fails to abide by what we term a principle of ‘non-perfectionism’ in moral action: the mere fact that it is practically impossible for you to do all the good that you have reason to do does not present a reason not to do whatever good you can do. And second, when used as a means of arbitrating between which services to fund, affordability criteria can lead to a kind of ‘numerical discrimination’. Various attendant issues around fairness and lotteries are also discussed.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1007/s10677-019-10028-4
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 48,955
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
Should the Numbers Count?John Taurek - 1977 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 6 (4):293-316.
XI—Why is It Disrespectful to Violate Rights?Rowan Cruft - 2013 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 113 (2pt2):201-224.
Fairness.Brad Hooker - 2005 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 8 (4):329 - 352.

View all 11 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Perfectionism.Daniel E. Wueste - 1994 - Review of Metaphysics 48 (2):409-410.
Mandates and the Affordability of Health Care.Sherry Glied - 2009 - Inquiry: The Journal of Health Care Organization, Provision, and Financing 46 (2):203-214.
Can We Afford International Human Rights?George G. Brenkert - 1992 - Journal of Business Ethics 11 (7):515 - 521.
Perfectionism and Moral Reasoning.Matteo Falomi - 2010 - European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy 2 (2):85-100.
Examples of Perfectionism. Guyer - 2014 - Journal of Aesthetic Education 48 (3):5.
What Is The Basis of Moral Obligation?H. A. Prichard - 2002 - In Jim MacAdam (ed.), Moral Writings. Clarendon Press.
Sentimentalism About Moral Understanding.Nathan Howard - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (5):1065-1078.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2019-09-14

Total views
23 ( #417,887 of 2,310,280 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
8 ( #103,786 of 2,310,280 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature