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Prioritarianism for prospects

Rabinowicz, Wlodek (2002) Prioritarianism for prospects. Utilitas, 14 (1). pp. 2-21. ISSN 0953-8208

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0953820800003368


The Interpersonal Addition Theorem, due to John Broome, states that, given certain seemingly innocuous assumptions, the overall utility of an uncertain prospect can be represented as the sum of its individual (expected) utilities. Given ‘Bernoulli's hypothesis’ according to which individual utility coincides with individual welfare, this result appears to be incompatible with the Priority View. On that view, due to Derek Parfit, the benefits to the worse off should count for more, in the overall evaluation, than the comparable benefits to the better off. Pace Broome, the paper argues that prioritarians should meet this challenge not by denying Bernoulli's hypothesis, but by rejecting one of the basic assumptions behind the addition theorem: that a prospect is better overall if it is better for everyone. This conclusion follows if one interprets the priority weights that are imposed by prioritarians as relevant only to moral, but not to prudential, evaluations of prospects.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2002 Cambridge University Press
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BC Logic
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2013 14:22
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2024 23:42

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