Rational Numbers: A Non‐Consequentialist Explanation Of Why You Should Save The Many And Not The Few

Philosophical Quarterly 63 (252):413-427 (2013)
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You ought to save a larger group of people rather than a distinct smaller group of people, all else equal. A consequentialist may say that you ought to do so because this produces the most good. If a non-consequentialist rejects this explanation, what alternative can he or she give? This essay defends the following explanation, as a solution to the so-called numbers problem. Its two parts can be roughly summarised as follows. First, you are morally required to want the survival of each stranger for its own sake. Secondly, you are rationally required to achieve as many of these ends as possible, if you have these ends

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Tom Dougherty
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


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