Each Counts for One

Philosophical Studies (forthcoming)
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Abstract

After 50 years of debate, the ethics of aggregation has reached a curious stalemate, with both sides arguing that only their theory treats people as equals. I argue that, on the issue of equality, both sides are wrong. From the premise that “each counts for one,” we cannot derive the conclusion that “more count for more”—or its negation. The familiar arguments from equality to aggregation presuppose more than equality: the Kamm/Scanlon “Balancing Argument” rests on what social choice theorists call “(Positive) Responsiveness,” Kamm’s “Aggregation Argument” assumes that “equal” lives are fungible, and Hsieh et al. have it that spreading goods broadly best approximates equality. In each case, the crucial premise is not equality itself but a further idea that Taurek, I argue, can safely reject. I conclude with a conjecture: there is no theory-neutral argument that settles the question of whether the numbers count.

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Daniel Muñoz
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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