The normative significance of identifiability

Ethics and Information Technology 21 (4):295-305 (2019)
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Abstract

According to psychological research, people are more eager to help identified individuals than unidentified ones. This phenomenon significantly influences many important decisions, both individual and public, regarding, for example, vaccinations or the distribution of healthcare resources. This paper aims at presenting definitions of various levels of identifiability as well as a critical analysis of the main philosophical arguments regarding the normative significance of the identifiability effect, which refer to: (1) ex ante contractualism; (2) fair distribution of chances and risks; (3) anti-aggregationist principles that recommend the distribution of bad effects and the concentration of good ones. I will show that these arguments, although connected with interesting philosophical problems regarding e.g. counterfactuals, aggregation, or probability, are unconvincing.

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Tomasz Żuradzki
Jagiellonian University

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