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Intricate EthicsRights, Responsibilities, and Permissible Harm$
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F. M. Kamm

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195189698

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195189698.001.0001

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Aggregation and Two Moral Methods

Aggregation and Two Moral Methods

(p.48) 2 Aggregation and Two Moral Methods
Intricate Ethics

F. M. Kamm

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores whether the number of people we can help counts morally in deciding what to do in conflict situations when we cannot help everyone. It begins by reconsidering the arguments of John Taurek and Elizabeth Anscombe as to whether the number of people we can help counts morally. It then examines arguments that numbers should count which has been give by Thomas Scanlon and criticism of them by Michael Otsuka. It discusses how different conceptions of the moral method known as pairwise comparison are at work in these different arguments and what the ideas of balancing and tiebreaking signify for decision making in various types of cases. It contrasts two subcategories of pairwise comparison—confrontation and substitution—by which conflicts might be resolved in a nonconsequentialist theory, and argues that substitution is permissible. The chapter concludes by considering how another moral method, known as “virtual divisibility,” functions and what it helps to reveal about an argument by Otsuka against those who do not think that numbers count.

Keywords:   John Taurek, Elizabeth Anscombe, Michael Otsuka, Thomas Scanlon, pairwise comparison, confrontation, substitution, conflicts, virtual divisibility, nonconsequentialist theory

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