Caspar Hare (MIT, Philosophy): Shall We Wish Well to All?

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Date(s) - 21/05/2014
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Lakatos (LAK) 2.06


Speaker: Caspar Hare (MIT, Philosophy)
Time: 5:30pm – 7pm
Title: Shall we wish well to all?

An abstract:

Some moral theories have a curious feature. They conflict with rational beneficence – the theory that directs us to act out of reasonable concern for all people affected by our actions.

So, for example, (an example much-discussed by LSE philosophers) moral theories that direct us to pay special attention to the less well off (theories like egalitarianism and prioritarianism) may sometimes direct us to act in a way that minimizes everybody’s expected well-being. And, for another example, moral theories that direct us to respect constraints against harming for the sake of the greater good may sometimes do the same.

What of it? Is it a mark against a theory that it has this feature? In this paper I look at two arguments to the conclusion that it is. The arguments rest on assumptions about rational choice: Prospectist Decision Theory in the first case, and Weak Agglomeration in the second.

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