Environmental Ethics 26 (2):189-203 (2004)

Amelia White
University of Manchester
Act utilitarians often use causation in after-the-fact assessments of accountability in group environmental harms. Such attempts are seriously flawed. Causation need not, and many times should not, be important in assessments of accountability for act utilitarians. A model that maximizes utility in such assessments called the “best fit model” provides a good alternative. Because use of this model leads to more utility than models of after-the-fact accountability which rely on causal links, act utilitarians should adhere to the “best fit model” regardless of actual causal links. Although the “best fit model” is a better method to assign accountability using an act utilitarian approach than methods involving causation, it does have a serious flaw in regard to application and future utility. Given this flaw, the model is not enough to ensure future utility maximization. To maximize utility to the fullest, the model should be used along with incentives to prevent environmental harm before it occurs. Perhaps if such incentives are strong enough, the model may not need to be imposed at all. However, in cases where harm does occur, the “best fit model” yields the most utility. Thus, if the “best fit model” is not an acceptable method by which to assess responsibility, neither is act utilitarianism.
Keywords Applied Philosophy  General Interest
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 0163-4275
DOI enviroethics200426229
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,177
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

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Could Mental Causation Be Invisible?David Robb - forthcoming - In Alexander Carruth, S. C. Gibb & John Heil (eds.), The Metaphysics of E.J. Lowe. Oxford University Press.
A Model of Causation Is Not Causation.B. Edmonds - 2016 - Constructivist Foundations 12 (1):12-14.
The Limits of Rationality.Patrick Suppes - 1981 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 12 (1):85-101.
Interval Scalability of Rank-Dependent Utility.Mikhail V. Sokolov - 2011 - Theory and Decision 70 (3):255-282.
The Limits of Rationality.Patrick Suppes - 1981 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 12 (1):85-101.
Revealed Preference and Expected Utility.Stephen A. Clark - 2000 - Theory and Decision 49 (2):159-174.
Utilitarianism and Infinite Utility.Peter Vallentyne - 1993 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 71 (2):212 – 217.
A Process Approach to the Utility for Gambling.Marc Le Menestrel - 2001 - Theory and Decision 50 (3):249-262.


Added to PP index

Total views
50 ( #224,818 of 2,499,401 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #418,166 of 2,499,401 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes