Coping with Ethical Uncertainty

Diametros 53:150-166 (2017)

Authors
John R. Welch
Saint Louis University
Abstract
Most ethical decisions are conditioned by formidable uncertainty. Decision makers may lack reliable information about relevant facts, the consequences of actions, and the reactions of other people. Resources for dealing with uncertainty are available from standard forms of decision theory, but successful application to decisions under risk requires a great deal of quantitative information: point-valued probabilities of states and point-valued utilities of outcomes. When this information is not available, this paper recommends the use of a form of decision theory that operates on a bare minimum of information inputs: comparative plausibilities of states and comparative utilities of outcomes. In addition, it proposes a comparative strategy for dealing with second-order uncertainty. The paper illustrates its proposal with reference to a well-known ethical dilemma: Kant’s life-saving lie.
Keywords Kant  decision theory  expected utility  plausibilistic expectation  plausibility  probability  probability of frequency  uncertainty  utility
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DOI 10.13153/diam.53.0.1105
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References found in this work BETA

Risk and Rationality.Kristin Shrader-Frechette - 1991 - University of California Press.
Abductive Reasoning.Douglas Walton - 2004 - University Alabama Press.
Plausible Reasoning.N. Rescher - 1976 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 29 (2):204-207.

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