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Weighing Goods: Equality, Uncertainty and Time

Weighing Goods: Equality, Uncertainty and Time

John Broome

ISBN: 978-0-631-19972-4

Nov 1995

268 pages

In Stock

$60.95

Description

This study uses techniques from economics to illuminate fundamental questions in ethics, particularly in the foundations of utilitarianism. Topics considered include the nature of teleological ethics, the foundations of decision theory, the value of equality and the moral significance of a person's continuing identity through time.

Preface ix

1 Introduction I: The Structure of Good 1

1.1 Acts versus consequences, and agent relativity 3

1.2 The Working of ethical considerations 6

1.3 Teleological structure 10

1.4 Does good exist? 17

Notes 20

2 Introduction II: Weighing Goods 22

2.1 Locations of good, and separability 22

2.2 Three dimensions of locations 25

2.3 Dimensions with varying lengths 29

2.4 What things are good? 32

2.5 An outline of the argument 32

Notes 58

3 Similarity Arguments 39

3.1 Parfit, Section 1 40

3.2 Parfit, Section 2 48

3.3 Harsanyi 51

Notes 58

4 The Separability Theorems 60

4.1 Two examples 60

4.2 Definitions and theorems 65

4.3 The significance of additive separability 70

4.4 The rectangular field assumption 80

Notes 81

Appendix to Chapter 4: Proofs 82

5 Expected Utility and Rationality 90

5.1 Axiomatic expected utility theory 90

5.2 The sure-thing principle 94

5.3 Individuation of outcomes 95

5.4 Transitivity of preferences 100

5.5 Rational requirements of indifference 104

5.6 Individuation and the sure-thing principle 107

5.7 The dispersion of value amongst states of nature 110

5.8 The rectangular field assumption 115

Notes 117

6 The Coherence of Good 121

6.1 The goodness of uncertain prospects 122

6.2 Betterness and rational preferences 131

6.3 The argument for coherence 136

6.4 Representing betterness by utility 139

6.5 Bernoulli’s hypothesis 142

Notes 148

7 Coherence Against the Pareto Principle 151

7.1 The conflict 152

7.2 Two better principles 154

7.3 Welfare economics 159

Notes 164

8 The Principle of Personal Good 165

8.1 Qualifications 165

8.2 The beginning of a defence 167

Notes 173

9 Equality 174

9.1 A utilitarian case for equality 175

9.2 Types of egalitarianism 177

9.3 Equality under uncertainty 185

9.4 Fairness and equality 192

Notes 200

10 The Interpersonal Addition Theorem 202

10.1 Proof 203

10.2 Connecting dimensions 209

10.3 The utilitarian principle of distribution 213

Notes 222

11 Utilitarian Metaphysics? 224

11.1 The intertemporal addition theorem 224

11.2 The principle of temporal good 228

11.3 The metaphysical argument 230

11.4 Conclusion 237

Notes 240

Bibliography 241

Index 251 

  • Uses techniques from economics to illustrate fundamental questions in ethics