Incomparable numbers

Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 10 (2020)
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Abstract

This chapter presents arguments for two slightly different versions of the thesis that the value of persons is incomparable. Both arguments allege an incompatibility between the demands of a certain kind of practical reasoning and the presuppositions of value comparisons. The significance of these claims is assessed in the context of the “Numbers problem”—the question of whether one morally ought to benefit one group of potential aid recipients rather than another simply because they are greater in number. It is argued that many of the popular approaches to this problem—even ones that avoid the aggregation of personal value—are imperiled by the incomparability theses.

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Kenneth Walden
Dartmouth College

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