Incomparable numbers

Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 10 (2020)
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Abstract

This chapter presents arguments for two slightly different versions of the thesis that the value of persons is incomparable. Both arguments allege an incompatibility between the demands of a certain kind of practical reasoning and the presuppositions of value comparisons. The significance of these claims is assessed in the context of the “Numbers problem”—the question of whether one morally ought to benefit one group of potential aid recipients rather than another simply because they are greater in number. It is argued that many of the popular approaches to this problem—even ones that avoid the aggregation of personal value—are imperiled by the incomparability theses.

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Author's Profile

Kenneth Walden
Dartmouth College

Citations of this work

Great Beyond All Comparison.Kenneth Walden - 2023 - In Sarah Buss & Nandi Theunissen (eds.), Rethinking the Value of Humanity. New York, US: OUP Usa. pp. 181-201.

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References found in this work

The Theory of Moral Sentiments.Adam Smith - 1759 - Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. Edited by Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya.
Utilitarianism.John Stuart Mill - 1863 - Cleveland: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Geraint Williams.
Value in ethics and economics.Elizabeth Anderson - 1993 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Love as a moral emotion.J. David Velleman - 1999 - Ethics 109 (2):338-374.

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