Wlodek Rabinowicz (Lund): Goodness and Numbers

David is stranded on one island, Peter and Mary on the other. You can either save David alone or both Peter and Mary. Is there a good argument for saving the greater number? John Taurek (1977) famously, or notoriously, denied this. One way to provide such an argument would be to establish an axiological claim: It is better that more people continue to live than that fewer do. This would settle the issue for consequentialists, but even non-consequentialists might find the axiological claim relevant to the question at land. The standard worry, however, is that the axiological claim can only be established by aggregating gains and losses of different persons, in order to arrive at the overall value of the outcome. As opposed to intrapersonal aggregation, interpersonal aggregation might seem illegitimate. As Taurek puts it, “Five individuals each losing his life does not add up to anyone's experiencing a loss five times greater than the loss suffered by any one of the five.” My talk will deal with some attempts to overcome this hurdle. I will pay a rather close attention to how these attempts can be viewed from Taurek's own perspective

Date & time

Mon 12 Nov 2018, 12:30pm to 2:00pm


Room 2.02, Sir Roland Wilson Building, ANU


Wlodek Rabinowicz (Lund)

Event series


School of Philosophy


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