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Theron Pummer
University of St. Andrews
  1. All or Nothing, but If Not All, Next Best or Nothing.Theron Pummer - 2019 - Journal of Philosophy 116 (5):278-291.
    Suppose two children face a deadly threat. You can either do nothing, save one child by sacrificing your arms, or save both by sacrificing your arms. Here are two plausible claims: first, it is permissible to do nothing; second, it is wrong to save only one. Joe Horton argues that the combination of these two claims has the implausible implication that if you are not going to save both children, you ought to save neither. This is one instance of what (...)
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  2.  73
    Effective Altruism.Theron Pummer & William MacAskill - forthcoming - In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics.
    In this entry, we discuss both the definition of effective altruism and objections to effective altruism, so defined.
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  3.  43
    Charity and Partiality.Theron Pummer - 2019 - In David Edmonds (ed.), Ethics and the Contemporary World. Abingdon: Routledge. pp. 121-132.
    Many of us give to charities that are close to our hearts rather than those that would use our gifts to do more good, impartially considered. Is such partiality to charities acceptable? I argue that if partiality to particular people is justified, we can go SOME distance toward justifying partiality to particular charities. Even so, partiality to charities is justified in fewer cases than most people seem to believe.
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  4.  37
    Review of The Ethics of Giving: Philosophers’ Perspectives on Philanthropy. [REVIEW]Theron Pummer - forthcoming - Philosophical Quarterly.
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  5.  32
    Each-We Dilemmas and Effective Altruism.Theron Pummer & Matthew Clark - forthcoming - Journal of Practical Ethics 7 (1).
    In his interesting and provocative article ‘Being Good in a World of Need’, Larry Temkin argues for the possibility of a type of Each-We Dilemma in which, if we each produce the most good we can individually, we produce a worse outcome collectively. Such situations would ostensibly be troubling from the standpoint of effective altruism, the project of finding out how to do the most good and doing it, subject to not violating side-constraints. We here show that Temkin’s argument is (...)
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  6. Whether and Where to Give.Theron Pummer - 2016 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 44 (1):77-95.
    Effective altruists recommend that we give large sums to charity, but by far their more central message is that we give effectively, i.e., to whatever charities would do the most good per dollar donated. In this paper, I’ll assume that it’s not wrong not to give bigger, but will explore to what extent it may well nonetheless be wrong not to give better. The main claim I’ll argue for here is that in many cases it would be wrong of you (...)
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  7. Spectrum Arguments and Hypersensitivity.Theron Pummer - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (7):1729-1744.
    Larry Temkin famously argues that what he calls spectrum arguments yield strong reason to reject Transitivity, according to which the ‘all-things-considered better than’ relation is transitive. Spectrum arguments do reveal that the conjunctions of independently plausible claims are inconsistent with Transitivity. But I argue that there is very strong independent reason to reject such conjunctions of claims, and thus that the fact that they are inconsistent with Transitivity does not yield strong reason to reject Transitivity.
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  8. Intuitions About Large Number Cases.Theron Pummer - 2013 - Analysis 73 (1):37-46.
    Is there some large number of very mild hangnail pains, each experienced by a separate person, which would be worse than two years of excruciating torture, experienced by a single person? Many people have the intuition that the answer to this question is No. However, a host of philosophers have argued that, because we have no intuitive grasp of very large numbers, we should not trust such intuitions. I argue that there is decent intuitive support for the No answer, which (...)
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  9. Does Division Multiply Desert?Theron Pummer - 2014 - Philosophical Review 123 (1):43-77.
    It seems plausible that (i) how much punishment a person deserves cannot be affected by the mere existence or nonexistence of another person. We might have also thought that (ii) how much punishment is deserved cannot increase merely in virtue of personal division. I argue that (i) and (ii) are inconsistent with the popular belief that, other things being equal, when people culpably do very wrong or bad acts, they ought to be punished for this—even if they have repented, are (...)
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  10. Lopsided Lives.Theron Pummer - 2017 - In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics. Oxford University Press. pp. 275-296.
    Intuitively there are many different things that non-derivatively contribute to well-being: pleasure, desire satisfaction, knowledge, friendship, love, rationality, freedom, moral virtue, and appreciation of true beauty. According to pluralism, at least two different types of things non-derivatively contribute to well-being. Lopsided lives score very low in terms of some types of things that putatively non-derivatively contribute to well-being, but very high in terms of other such types of things. I argue that pluralists essentially face a trilemma about lopsided lives: they (...)
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  11. The Worseness of Nonexistence.Theron Pummer - 2019 - In Espen Gamlund and Carl Tollef Solberg (ed.), Saving People from the Harm of Death. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 215-228.
    Most believe that it is worse for a person to die than to continue to exist with a good life. At the same time, many believe that it is not worse for a merely possible person never to exist than to exist with a good life. I argue that if the underlying properties that make us the sort of thing we essentially are can come in small degrees, then to maintain this commonly-held pair of beliefs we will have to embrace (...)
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  12.  31
    Adding Happy People.Theron Pummer - 2016 - In David Edmonds (ed.), Philosophers Take on the World. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press. pp. 236-239.
    I very briefly sketch two arguments for the claim that we have significant moral reason to ‘add happy people’ (that is, bring into existence people with lives that are well worth living), independently of any effects on those already existing.
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  13.  65
    Risky Giving.Theron Pummer - 2016 - The Philosophers' Magazine 73 (2):62-70.
    We might worry that Peter Singer’s argument from “Famine, Affluence, and Morality” is unconvincing to non-consequentialists who accept moral constraints against imposing significant risks of harm on individuals. After all, giving to overseas charities often comes with such risks. I argue that plausible non-consequentialist criteria imply that it is not wrong to give to at least some of the charities that Singer and other effective altruists recommend.
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  14. Rescue and Personal Involvement: A Response to Woollard.Theron Pummer & Roger Crisp - forthcoming - Analysis.
    Fiona Woollard argues that when one is personally involved in an emergency, one has a moral requirement to make substantial sacrifices to aid others that one would not otherwise have. She holds that there are three ways in which one could be personally involved in an emergency: by being physically proximate to the victims of the emergency; by being the only person who can help the victims; or by having a personal encounter with the victims. Each of these factors is (...)
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