Against Hirose's Argument for Saving the Greater Number

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Faced with the choice between saving one person and saving two others, what should we do? It seems intuitively plausible that we ought to save the two, and many forms of consequentialists offer a straightforward rationale for the intuition by appealing to interpersonal aggregation. But still many other philosophers attempt to provide a justification for the duty to save the greater number without combining utilities or claims of separate individuals. I argue against one such attempt proposed by Iwao Hirose. Despite being consequentialist, his argument is aggregation-free since it relies on a non-aggregative value judgement method, instead of interpersonal aggregation, to establish that (other things being equal) a state of affairs is better when more people survive therein. I do not take issue with its consequentialist element; rather, I claim that there is no good reason to adopt the method in question, and thus no good reason to be moved by his argument overall. What we are in search of is not merely a logically possible method that can produce the conclusion that we already want, but one that we have good reason to adopt. Hirose's argument elegantly demonstrates how it could possibly be true that it is right to save the greater number; but it fails to show that we have reason to believe so - even when we do not combine the interests of different individuals.
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First archival date: 2017-02-20
Latest version: 2 (2017-02-23)
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