10 found
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  1. Population Axiology.Hilary Greaves - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (11):e12442.
    Population axiology is the study of the conditions under which one state of affairs is better than another, when the states of affairs in ques- tion may differ over the numbers and the identities of the persons who ever live. Extant theories include totalism, averagism, variable value theories, critical level theories, and “person-affecting” theories. Each of these the- ories is open to objections that are at least prima facie serious. A series of impossibility theorems shows that this is no coincidence: (...)
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  2. Discounting for Public Policy: A Survey.Hilary Greaves - 2017 - Economics and Philosophy 33 (3):391-439.
    This article is a critical survey of the debate over the value of the social discount rate, with a particular focus on climate change. The ma- jority of the material surveyed is from the economics rather than from the philosophy literature, but the emphasis of the survey itself is on founda- tions in ethical and other normative theory rather than highly technical details. I begin by locating the standard approach to discounting within the overall landscape of ethical theory, and explaining (...)
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  3. Cluelessness.Hilary Greaves - 2016 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 116 (3):311-339.
    Decisions, whether moral or prudential, should be guided at least in part by considerations of the consequences that would result from the various available actions. For any given action, however, the majority of its consequences are unpredictable at the time of decision. Many have worried that this leaves us, in some important sense, clueless. In this paper, I distinguish between ‘simple’ and ‘complex’ possible sources of cluelessness. In terms of this taxonomy, the majority of the existing literature on cluelessness focusses (...)
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  4. Moral Uncertainty About Population Ethics.Hilary Greaves & Toby Ord - forthcoming - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy.
    Given the deep disagreement surrounding population axiology, one should remain uncertain about which theory is best. However, this uncertainty need not leave one neutral about which acts are better or worse. We show that as the number of lives at stake grows, the Expected Moral Value approach to axiological uncertainty systematically pushes one towards choosing the option preferred by the Total and Critical Level views, even if one’s credence in those theories is low.
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  5.  65
    A Reconsideration of the Harsanyi–Sen–Weymark Debate on Utilitarianism.Hilary Greaves - 2016 - Utilitas:1-39.
    Harsanyi claimed that his Aggregation and Impartial Observer Theorems provide a justification for utilitarianism. This claim has been strongly resisted, notably by Sen and Weymark, who argue that while Harsanyi has perhaps shown that overall good is a linear sum of individuals’ von Neumann-Morgenstern utilities, he has done nothing to establish any con- nection between the notion of von Neumann-Morgenstern utility and that of well-being, and hence that utilitarianism does not follow. The present article defends Harsanyi against the Sen-Weymark cri- (...)
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  6. Against “the Badness of Death”.Hilary Greaves - forthcoming - In Gamlund and Solberg (ed.), Saving People from the Harm of Death. Oxford, USA: Oxford University Press.
    I argue that excessive reliance on the notion of “the badness of death” tends to lead theorists astray when thinking about healthcare prioritisation. I survey two examples: the confusion surrounding the “time-relative interests account” of the badness of death, and a confusion in the recent literature on cost-benefit analyses for family planning interventions. In both cases, the confusions in question would have been avoided if (instead of attempting to theorise in terms of the badness of death) theorists had forced themselves (...)
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  7.  84
    The Social Disvalue of Premature Deaths.Hilary Greaves - 2015 - In Iwao Hirose & Andrew Reisner (eds.), Weighing and reasoning: Themes from the philosophy of John Broome. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
    Much public policy analysis requires us to place a monetary value on the bad- ness of a premature human death. Currently dominant approaches to determining this ‘value of a life’ focus exclusively on the ‘self-regarding’ value of life — that is, the value of a person’s life to the person whose death is in question — and altogether ignore effects on other people. This procedure would be justified if, as seems intuitively plausible, other-regarding effects were negligible in comparison with self-regarding (...)
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  8.  78
    Climate Change and Optimum Population.Hilary Greaves - manuscript
    Overpopulation is often identified as one of the key drivers of climate change. Further, it is often thought that the mechanism behind this is obvious: 'more people means more greenhouse gas emissions'. However, in light of the fact that climate change depends most closely on cumulative emissions rather than on emissions rates, the relationship between population size and climate change is more subtle than this. Reducing the size of instantaneous populations can fruitfully be thought of as spreading out a fixed (...)
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  9.  75
    Discounting Future Health.Hilary Greaves - forthcoming - In Emanuel Norheim (ed.), Global health priority-setting: Cost-effectiveness and beyond. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
    In carrying out cost-benefit or cost-effective analysis, a discount rate should be applied to some kinds of future benefits and costs. It is controversial, though, whether future health is in this class. I argue that one of the standard arguments for discounting (from diminishing marginal returns) is inapplicable to the case of health, while another (favouring a pure rate of time preference) is unsound in any case. However, there are two other reasons that might support a positive discount rate for (...)
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  10.  75
    Global Consequentialism and the Morality and Laws of War.Hilary Greaves - forthcoming - In McDermott and Roser Kuosmanen (ed.), Human rights and 21st century challenges. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
    Rights-based approaches and consequentialist approaches to ethics are often seen as being diametrically opposed to one another. In one sense, they are. In another sense, however, they can be reconciled: a ‘global’ form of consequentialism might supply consequentialist foundations for a derivative morality that is non-consequentialist, and perhaps rights-based, in content. By way of case study to illustrate how this might work, I survey what a global consequentialist should think about a recent dispute between Jeff McMahan and Henry Shue on (...)
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