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Profile: Alex Voorhoeve (London School of Economics, National Institutes of Health)
  1. Priority or Equality for Possible People?Alex Voorhoeve & Marc Fleurbaey - 2016 - Ethics 126 (July):929-954.
    Suppose that you must make choices that may influence the well-being and the identities of the people who will exist, though not the number of people who will exist. How ought you to choose? This paper answers this question. It argues that the currency of distributive ethics in such cases is a combination of an individual’s final well-being and her expected well-being conditional on her existence. It also argues that this currency should be distributed in an egalitarian, rather than a (...)
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  2.  30
    Similarity and Moral Choice.Alex Voorhoeve, Arnaldur Stefansson & Brian Wallace - manuscript
    How, and how reliably, do people make difficult moral trade-offs? We pursue this question through an experiment in which subjects must either save a larger number of people from a smaller harm or save a smaller number of people from a greater harm. Our results indicate widespread use of a similarity heuristic. When alternatives appear dissimilar in terms of the number of people that can be saved but similar in terms of the magnitude of harm from which they can be (...)
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  3. Why It Matters That Some Are Worse Off Than Others: An Argument Against the Priority View.Michael Otsuka & Alex Voorhoeve - 2009 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 37 (2):171-199.
    We argue that there is a marked shift in the moral weight of an increment in a person's well-being when one moves from a case involving only intra-personal trade-offs to a case involving only inter-personal trads-offs. This shift, we propose, is required by the separateness of persons. We also argue that the Priority View put forward by Parfit cannot account for such a shift. We also outline two alternative views, an egalitarian view and a claims-based view, that can account for (...)
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  4. Equality Versus Priority.Michael Otsuka & Alex Voorhoeve - forthcoming - In Serena Olsaretti (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Distributive Justice. Oxford University Press.
    We discuss two leading theories of distributive justice: egalitarianism and prioritarianism. We argue that while each has particular merits and shortcomings, egalitarian views more fully satisfy a key requirement of distributive justice: respect for both the unity of the individual and the separateness of persons.
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  5.  17
    Why Inequality Matters: Luck Egalitarianism, its Meaning and Value. [REVIEW]Alex Voorhoeve - forthcoming - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
    I review Shlomi Segall's book 'Why Inequality Matters'. I argue that it conclusively establishes that alongside egalitarians, prioritarians and sufficientarians must sometimes regard a prospect as better (in at least one respect) when it is not better (in terms of well-being) for anyone. Sufficientarians and prioritarians must therefore relinquish a treasured anti-egalitarian argument. It also makes a powerful case that among these three views, egalitarians are in the best position to explain such departures from what is in each person’s prudential (...)
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  6. How Should We Aggregate Competing Claims?Alex Voorhoeve - 2014 - Ethics 125 (1):64-87.
    Many believe that we ought to save a large number from being permanently bedridden rather than save one from death. Many also believe that we ought to save one from death rather than a multitude from a very minor harm, no matter how large this multitude. I argue that a principle I call “Aggregate Relevant Claims” satisfactorily explains these judgments. I offer a rationale for this principle and defend it against objections.
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  7. Ambiguity Attitudes, Framing and Consistency.Alex Voorhoeve, Ken Binmore, Arnaldur Stefansson & Lisa Stewart - 2016 - Theory and Decision 81 (3):313-337.
    We use probability-matching variations on Ellsberg’s single-urn experiment to assess three questions: (1) How sensitive are ambiguity attitudes to changes from a gain to a loss frame? (2) How sensitive are ambiguity attitudes to making ambiguity easier to recognize? (3) What is the relation between subjects’ consistency of choice and the ambiguity attitudes their choices display? Contrary to most other studies, we find that a switch from a gain to a loss frame does not lead to a switch from ambiguity (...)
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  8.  17
    Balancing Small Against Large Burdens.Alex Voorhoeve - forthcoming - Behavioural Public Policy.
    Common principles for resource allocation in health care can prioritize the alleviation of small health burdens over lifesaving treatment. I argue that there is some evidence that these principles are at odds with a sizable share of public opinion, which holds that saving a life should take priority over any number of cures for minor ailments. I propose two possible explanations for this opinion, one debunking and one vindicatory. I also outline how well-designed surveys and moral inquiry could help decide (...)
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  9. On the Social and Personal Value of Existence.Marc Fleurbaey & Alex Voorhoeve - 2015 - In Iwao Hirose & Andrew Reisner (eds.), Weighing and Reasoning: Themes from the Work of John Broome. Oxford University Press. pp. 95-109.
    If a potential person would have a good life if he were to come into existence, can we regard his coming into existence as better for him than his never coming into existence? And can we regard the situation in which he never comes into existence as worse for him? In this paper, we argue that both questions should be answered affirmatively.
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  10.  16
    Universal Health Coverage, Priority Setting and the Human Right to Health.Benedict Rumbold, Rachel Baker, Octavio Ferraz, Sarah Hawkes, Carleigh Krubiner, Peter Littlejohns, Ole Frithjof Norheim, Thomas Pegram, Annette Rid, Sridhar Venkatapuram, Alex Voorhoeve, Daniel Wang, Albert Weale, James Wilson, Yamin Alicia Ely & Paul Hunt - forthcoming - The Lancet.
    As health policy-makers around the world seek to make progress towards universal health coverage, they must navigate between two important ethical imperatives: to set national spending priorities fairly and efficiently; and to safeguard the right to health. These imperatives can conflict, leading some to conclude that rights-based approaches present a disruptive influence on health policy, hindering states’ efforts to set priorities fairly and efficiently. Here, we challenge this perception. We argue first that these points of tension stem largely from inadequate (...)
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  11. Egalitarianism and the Separateness of Persons.Alex Voorhoeve & Marc Fleurbaey - 2012 - Utilitas 24 (3):381-398.
    The difference between the unity of the individual and the separateness of persons requires that there be a shift in the moral weight that we accord to changes in utility when we move from making intrapersonal tradeoffs to making interpersonal tradeoffs. We examine which forms of egalitarianism can, and which cannot, account for this shift. We argue that a form of egalitarianism which is concerned only with the extent of outcome inequality cannot account for this shift. We also argue that (...)
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  12. Vaulting Intuition: Temkin's Critique of Transitivity.Alex Voorhoeve - 2013 - Economics and Philosophy 29 (3):409-425.
    In 'Rethinking the Good', Larry Temkin makes two core claims. First, the goodness of a distribution is sometimes ‘essentially comparative’ – it sometimes depends on which alternative distribution(s) it is compared to. Second, such cases threaten the transitivity of ‘all things considered better than’. I argue that the goodness of a distribution may indeed depend on what other distributions are feasible. But contrary to Temkin, I also argue that transitivity holds even when the goodness of a distribution depends on the (...)
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  13. Decide As You Would With Full Information! An Argument Against Ex Ante Pareto.Marc Fleurbaey & Alex Voorhoeve - 2013 - In Ole Norheim, Samia Hurst, Nir Eyal & Dan Wikler (eds.), Inequalities in Health: Concepts, Measures, and Ethics. Oxford University Press.
    Policy-makers must sometimes choose between an alternative which has somewhat lower expected value for each person, but which will substantially improve the outcomes of the worst off, or an alternative which has somewhat higher expected value for each person, but which will leave those who end up worst off substantially less well off. The popular ex ante Pareto principle requires the choice of the alternative with higher expected utility for each. We argue that ex ante Pareto ought to be rejected (...)
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  14.  95
    Why One Should Count Only Claims with Which One Can Sympathize.Alex Voorhoeve - forthcoming - Public Health Ethics:phw006.
    When one faces competing claims of varying strength on public resources for health, which claims count? This paper proposes the following answer. One should count, or aggregate, a person’s claim just in case one could sympathize with her desire to prioritize her own claim over the strongest competing claim. It argues that this principle yields appealing case judgments and has a plausible grounding in both sympathetic identification with each person, taken separately, and respect for the person for whom most is (...)
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  15.  52
    Three Case Studies in Making Fair Choices on the Path to Universal Health Coverage.Alex Voorhoeve, Tessa Edejer, Kapiriri Lydia, Ole Frithjof Norheim, James Snowden, Olivier Basenya, Dorjsuren Bayarsaikhan, Ikram Chentaf, Nir Eyal, Amanda Folsom, Rozita Halina Tun Hussein, Cristian Morales, Florian Ostmann, Trygve Ottersen, Phusit Prakongsai & Carla Saenz - 2016 - Health and Human Rights 18 (2):11-22.
    The goal of achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) can generally be realized only in stages. Moreover, resource, capacity and political constraints mean governments often face difficult trade-offs on the path to UHC. In a 2014 report, Making fair choices on the path to UHC, the WHO Consultative Group on Equity and Universal Health Coverage articulated principles for making such trade-offs in an equitable manner. We present three case studies which illustrate how these principles can guide practical decision-making. These case studies (...)
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  16.  92
    Transitivity, the Sorites Paradox, and Similarity-Based Decision-Making.Alex Voorhoeve & Ken Binmore - 2005 - Erkenntnis 64 (1):101-114.
    A persistent argument against the transitivity assumption of rational choice theory postulates a repeatable action that generates a significant benefit at the expense of a negligible cost. No matter how many times the action has been taken, it therefore seems reasonable for a decision-maker to take the action one more time. However, matters are so fixed that the costs of taking the action some large number of times outweigh the benefits. In taking the action some large number of times on (...)
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  17. Review of Matthew D. Adler: Well-Being and Fair Distribution. Beyond Cost-Benefit Analysis. [REVIEW]Alex Voorhoeve - 2014 - Social Choice and Welfare 42 (1):245-54.
    In this extended book review, I summarize Adler's views and critically analyze his key arguments on the measurement of well-being and the foundations of prioritarianism.
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  18. Why Sore Throats Don't Aggregate Against a Life, but Arms Do.Alex Voorhoeve - 2015 - Journal of Medical Ethics 41 (6):492-493.
    When do claims to be saved of a small or moderate harm aggregate against a competing claim to be saved from an early death? In this short response to Kamm's Bioethical Prescriptions, I argue for the following answer: aggregation of weaker claims against a life is permitted just in case, in a one-to-one contest, a person with a weaker claim would have a personal prerogative to prioritize her claim over a stranger’s competing claim to life.
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  19.  62
    Conversations on Ethics.Alex Voorhoeve - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
    Can we trust our intuitive judgments of right and wrong? Are moral judgements objective? What reason do we have to do what is right and avoid doing what is wrong? In Conversations on Ethics, Alex Voorhoeve elicits answers to these questions from eleven outstanding philosophers and social scientists: -/- Ken Binmore; Philippa Foot; Harry Frankfurt; Allan Gibbard; Daniel Kahneman; Frances Kamm; Alasdair MacIntyre; T. M. Scanlon; Peter Singer; David Velleman; Bernard Williams. -/- The exchanges are direct, open, and sharp, and (...)
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  20.  5
    May a Government Mandate More Comprehensive Health Insurance Than Citizens Want for Themselves?Alex Voorhoeve - forthcoming - In David Sobel, Peter Vallentyne & Steven Wall (eds.), Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy, Vol 4. Oxford University Press.
    I critically examine a common liberal egalitarian view about the justification for, and proper content of, mandatory health insurance. This view holds that a mandate is justified because it is the best way to ensure that those in poor health gain health insurance on equitable terms. It also holds that a government should mandate what a representative prudent individual would purchase for themselves if they were placed in fair conditions of choice. I argue that this common justification for a mandate (...)
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  21. Making Fair Choices on the Path to Universal Health Coverage.Ole Frithjof Norheim, Trygve Ottersen, Bona Chitah, Richard Cookson, Norman Daniels, Nir Eyal, Walter Flores, Axel Gosseries, Daniel Hausman, Samia Hurst, Lydia Kapiriri, Toby Ord, Shlomi Segall, Frehiwot Defaye, Alex Voorhoeve, Alicia Yamin, Gita Sen, Tessa T. T. Edejer, Andreas Reis, Ritu Sadana & Carla Saenz - 2014 - World Health Organisation.
    This report by the WHO Consultative Group on Equity and Universal Health Coverage addresses how countries can make fair progress towards the goal of universal coverage. It explains the relevant tradeoffs between different desirable ends and offers guidance on how to make these tradeoffs.
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  22.  85
    Defending Transitivity Against Zeno’s Paradox.Ken Binmore & Alex Voorhoeve - 2003 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 31 (3):272–279.
    This article criticises one of Stuart Rachels' and Larry Temkin's arguments against the transitivity of 'better than'. This argument invokes our intuitions about our preferences of different bundles of pleasurable or painful experiences of varying intensity and duration, which, it is argued, will typically be intransitive. This article defends the transitivity of 'better than' by showing that Rachels and Temkin are mistaken to suppose that preferences satisfying their assumptions must be intransitive. It makes cler where the argument goes wrong by (...)
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  23. How Much Ambiguity Aversion? Finding Indifferences Between Ellsberg's Risky and Ambiguous Bets.Ken Binmore, Lisa Stewart & Alex Voorhoeve - 2012 - Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 45 (3):215-38.
    Experimental results on the Ellsberg paradox typically reveal behavior that is commonly interpreted as ambiguity aversion. The experiments reported in the current paper find the objective probabilities for drawing a red ball that make subjects indifferent between various risky and uncertain Ellsberg bets. They allow us to examine the predictive power of alternative principles of choice under uncertainty, including the objective maximin and Hurwicz criteria, the sure-thing principle, and the principle of insufficient reason. Contrary to our expectations, the principle of (...)
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  24.  94
    Response to Our Critics.Alex Voorhoeve, Trygve Ottersen & Ole Frithjof Norheim - 2016 - Health Economics, Policy and Law 11 (1):103-111.
    We reply to critics of the World Health Organisation's Report "Making Fair Choices on the Path to Universal Health Coverage". We clarify and defend the report's key moral commitments. We also explain its role in guiding policy in the face of both financial and political constraints on making fair choices.
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  25.  81
    Introduction to the Symposium on Equality Versus Priority.Alex Voorhoeve - 2015 - Economics and Philosophy 31 (2):201-202.
    This paper introduces a symposium on Equality versus Priority. It explains how cases involving risk are key to distinguishing these views and discusses a 'social egalitarian' critique of both 'telic egalitarians' and 'telic prioritarians'.
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  26.  42
    Heuristics and Biases in a Purported Counter-Example to the Acyclicity of 'Better Than'.Alex Voorhoeve - 2008 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 7 (3):285-299.
    Stuart Rachels and Larry Temkin have offered a purported counter-example to the acyclicity of the relationship 'all things considered better than'. This example invokes our intuitive preferences over pairs of alternatives involving a single person's painful experiences of varying intensity and duration. These preferences, Rachels and Temkin claim, are confidently held, entirely reasonable, and cyclical. They conclude that we should drop acyclicity as a requirement of rationality. I argue that, together with the findings of recent research on the way people (...)
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  27.  83
    Making Fair Choices on the Path to Universal Health Coverage: A Precis.Alex Voorhoeve, Trygve Ottersen & Ole Frithjof Norheim - 2016 - Health Economics, Policy and Law 11 (1):71-77.
    We offer a summary of the WHO Report "Making Fair Choices on the Path to Universal Health Coverage".
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  28. Reply to Crisp.Michael Otsuka & Alex Voorhoeve - 2011 - Utilitas 23 (1):109-114.
    In 'Why It Matters that Some Are Worse off than Others,' we offer a new critique of the Priority View. In a recent article, Roger Crisp has argued that our critique is flawed. In this reply, we show that Crisp fails to grapple with, much less defeat, the central claim of our critique. We also show that an example that Crisp offers in support of the Priority View in fact lends support to our critique of that view.
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  29. Equality of Opportunity and Opportunity Dominance.Matthias Hild & Alex Voorhoeve - 2004 - Economics and Philosophy 20 (1):117-145.
    All conceptions of equal opportunity draw on some distinction between morally justified and unjustified inequalities. We discuss how this distinction varies across a range of philosophical positions. We find that these positions often advance equality of opportunity in tandem with distributive principles based on merit, desert, consequentialist criteria or individuals' responsibility for outcomes. The result of this amalgam of principles is a festering controversy that unnecessarily diminishes the widespread acceptability of opportunity concerns. We therefore propose to restore the conceptual separation (...)
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  30. Who Am I? Beyond 'I Think, Therefore I Am'.Alex Voorhoeve, Frances Kamm, Elie During, Timothy Wilson & David Jopling - 2011 - Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1234:134-148.
    Can we ever truly answer the question, “Who am I?” Moderated by Alex Voorhoeve (London School of Economics), neuro-philosopher Elie During (University of Paris, Ouest Nanterre), cognitive scientist David Jopling (York University, Canada), social psychologist Timothy Wilson (University of Virginia),and ethicist Frances Kamm (Harvard University) examine the difficulty of achieving genuine self-knowledge and how the pursuit of self-knowledge plays a role in shaping the self.
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  31. Erasmus.Alex Voorhoeve - 2010 - The Philosophers' Magazine 48:98-100.
  32.  94
    Pursuing Equal Opportunities: The Theory and Practice of Egalitarian Justice, by Lesley A. Jacobs [Book Review]. [REVIEW]Alex Voorhoeve - 2005 - Economics and Philosophy 21 (1):155-161.
    Book review of Lesley A. Jacobs' Pursuing Equal Opportunities: The Theory and Practice of Egalitarian Justice.
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  33. In Search of the Deep Structure of Morality: An Interview with Frances Kamm.Alex Voorhoeve & Frances Kamm - 2006 - Imprints 9 (2):93-117.
    An extended discussion with Frances Kamm about deontology and the methodology of ethical theorizing. (An extended and revised version appears in Alex Voorhoeve, Conversations on Ethics, OUP 2009).).
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  34.  90
    Response to Rabin.Alex Voorhoeve - 2013 - In Adam Oliver (ed.), Behavioural Public Policy. Cambridge University Press.
    This chapter analyses the behavioural economist Matthew Rabin's work on biases in decision-making. Rabin argues that these biases cause self-harm and that we should tax individuals to ensure that they do not give in to these biases. The chapter's core question is whether there is a soft-paternalistic justification for these taxes. The answer is nuanced. It argues that Rabin’s description of these biases as “irrational” is not always appropriate—sometimes, for example, they are merely a form of preference change. When they (...)
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  35.  22
    Inequalities in HIV Care: Chances Versus Outcomes.Nir Eyal & Alex Voorhoeve - 2011 - American Journal of Bioethics 11 (12):42-44.
    We analyse three moral dilemmas involving resource allocation in care for HIV-positive patients. Ole Norheim and Kjell Arne Johansson have argued that these cases reveal a tension between egalitarian concerns and concerns for better population health. We argue, by contrast, that these cases reveal a tension between, on the one hand, a concern for equal *chances*, and, on the other hand, both a concern for better health and an egalitarian concern for equal *outcomes*. We conclude that, in these cases, there (...)
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  36.  88
    Bernard Mandeville.Alex Voorhoeve - 2002 - The Philosophers' Magazine 20:53.
    A short account of the philosopher Bernard Mandeville's key ideas.
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  37. Should Losses Count? A Critique of the Complaint Model.Alex Voorhoeve - 2006 - Choice Group Working Papers.
    The Complaint Model is an interpretation of Scanlon’s contractualism which holds that (1) an individual can reasonably reject a distribution of well-being when her complaint against that distribution is larger than any other person’s complaint against any other distribution. The Complaint Model further holds that (2) the size of an individual’s complaint against a distribution is a function of (2a) her absolute level of well-being under that distribution, with the size of her complaint increasing as her absolute level of well-being (...)
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  38. Security and the 'War on Terror': A Roundtable.Julian Baggini, Alex Voorhoeve, Catherine Audard, Saladin Meckled-Garcia & Tony McWalter - 2007 - In Julian Baggini & Jeremy Stangroom (eds.), What More Philosophers Think. Continuum.
    What is the appropriate legal response to terrorist threats? This question is discussed by politician Tony McWalter, The Philosophers' Magazine editor Julian Baggini, and philosophers Catherine Audard, Saladin Meckled-Garcia, and Alex Voorhoeve.
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  39. A Mistrustful Animal: Bernard Williams Interviewed.Alex Voorhoeve - 2004 - The Harvard Review of Philosophy 12 (1):81-92.
    A discussion with Bernard Williams about main themes in his work. (Note: a version of this interview appears in 'Conversations on Ethics' (OUP, 2009).).
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  40. Is Poverty Our Problem? Introduction to the Forum on World Poverty and the Duty of Assistance.Alex Voorhoeve - 2006 - The Philosophers' Magazine 36:46-49.
    This paper provides an introductory discussion of questions about three moral duties in the context of global poverty: the duty to aid; the duty not to harm; and the duty to promote just global institutions.
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  41. The House That Jack Built.Alex Voorhoeve - 2003 - The Philosophers' Magazine 22 (22):28-31.
  42.  49
    Prioriteit voor patienten met een lagere levenskwaliteit.Alex Voorhoeve - 2010 - Filosofie En Praktijk 31:40-51.
    This paper critically analyses the priority-setting rules used by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the UK and proposed by the Netherlands' Council on Public Health and Health Care (RVZ). It argues that neither gives proper weight to improving the lot of those who are worse off than others.
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  43.  48
    The Grammar of Goodness: An Interview with Philippa Foot.Alex Voorhoeve - 2003 - Harvard Review of Philosophy:32-44.
    An interview with Philippa Foot about her book 'Natural Goodness' and the development of her thought. (Note: A slightly revised version appears in Conversations on Ethics, OUP 2009).
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  44.  63
    Review of Hugh LaFolette: The Practice of Ethics. [REVIEW]Alex Voorhoeve - 2010 - Social Choice and Welfare 34:497-501.
    A review of Hugh LaFolette's Practical Ethics.
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  45.  37
    Kant on the Cheap.Thomas Scanlon & Alex Voorhoeve - 2001 - The Philosophers' Magazine 16:29-30.
    A short interview with Thomas Scanlon about his contractualist moral theory. (Note: A revised and expanded version appears in Conversations on Ethics, OUP 2009).
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  46. Preference Change and Interpersonal Comparisons of Welfare.Alex Voorhoeve - 2006 - In Serena Olsaretti (ed.), Preferences and Well-Being. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 265-79.
    Can a preference-based conception of welfare accommodate changes in people's preferences? I argue that the fact that people care about which preferences they have, and the fact that people can change their preferences about which preferences it is good for them to have, together undermine the case for accepting a preference-satisfaction conception of welfare.
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  47.  68
    Harry Frankfurt on the Necessity of Love.Alex Voorhoeve - 2003 - Philosophical Writings 23:55-70.
    An conversation with Harry Frankfurt about his views on love, free will, and responsibility, as well as his general approach to philosophy. (Note: a revised version appears in Alex Voorhoeve, Conversations on Ethics, OUP 2009).
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  48.  73
    Incentives and Principles for Individuals in Rawls’ Theory of Justice.Alex Voorhoeve - 2005 - Ethics and Economics 3 (1):1-7.
    Philippe van Parijs (2003) has argued that an egalitarian ethos cannot be part of a post- Political Liberalism Rawlsian view of justice, because the demands of political justice are confined to principles for institutions of the basic structure alone. This paper argues, by contrast, that certain principles for individual conduct—including a principle requiring relatively advantaged individuals to sometimes make their economic choices with the aim of maximising the prospects of the least advantaged—are an integral part of a Rawlsian political conception (...)
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  49.  60
    The Limits of Autonomy.Alex Voorhoeve - 2009 - The Philosophers' Magazine 46 (46):78-82.
    This short piece contrasts, and critically analyses, Brian Barry's and J.S. Mill's ideas about the foundations of liberal rights.
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  50.  38
    Erasmus.Alex Voorhoeve - 2004 - In Julian Baggini & Jeremy Stangroom (eds.), The Philosophers' Magazine. Continuum. pp. 98-100.
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