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Michael Plant
Oxford University
  1. A Happy Possibility About Happiness (And Other Subjective) Scales: An Investigation and Tentative Defence of the Cardinality Thesis.Michael Plant - manuscript
    There are long-standing doubts about whether data from subjective scales—for instance, self-reports of happiness—are cardinally comparable. It is unclear how to assess whether these doubts are justified without first addressing two unresolved theoretical questions: how do people interpret subjective scales? Which assumptions are required for cardinal comparability? This paper offers answers to both. It proposes an explanation for scale interpretation derived from philosophy of language and game theory. In short: conversation is a cooperative endeavour governed by various maxims (Grice 1989); (...)
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    Can I Get A Little Less Satisfaction, Please?Michael Plant - manuscript
    While life satisfaction theories (LSTs) of well-being are barely discussed in philosophy, they are popular among social scientists and wider society. When philosophers have discussed LSTs, they are taken to be a distinct alternative to the three canonical accounts of well-being—hedonism, desire theories, the objective list. This essay makes three main claims. First, on closer inspection, LSTs are indistinguishable from a type of desire theory—the global desire theory. Second, the life satisfaction/global desire theories are the only subjectivist accounts of well-being (...)
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  3. Doing Good Badly? Philosophical Issues Related to Effective Altruism.Michael Plant - 2019 - Dissertation, Oxford University
    Suppose you want to do as much good as possible. What should you do? According to members of the effective altruism movement—which has produced much of the thinking on this issue and counts several moral philosophers as its key protagonists—we should prioritise among the world’s problems by assessing their scale, solvability, and neglectedness. Once we’ve done this, the three top priorities, not necessarily in this order, are (1) aiding the world’s poorest people by providing life-saving medical treatments or alleviating poverty (...)
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