Once more Into the numbers

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Abstract Tom Dougherty observes that challenges to counting the numbers often cite John Taurek’s 1977 article, “Should the Numbers Count.” Dougherty, though sympathetic to Taurek’s (and others) critique of consequentialism’s aggregating good across individuals, defends a non-consequentialist principle for addition he calls “the Ends Principle. Take the case (he labels “Drug”) when an agent, possessing a dose of a lifesaving drug, can save one person with the entire dose, or two people, each of whom only need half the dose. Dougherty argues that a rational agent, summing her altruistic goals (three), but unable to save all three, will save two. I give two criticisms of Dougherty’s paper. (1) He hasn’t ruled out, though acknowledging, the equal chance principle as deontological grounds for deciding Drug. (2) An agent using the Ends Principle in Drug, as he formulates it, will not have the requisite aims to make use of the Principle. I also consider an issue, little discussed, the conditions for aggregation in general.
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