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Probabilities in Tragic Choices


In this article I explore a kind of tragic choice that has not received due attention, one in which you have to save only one of two persons but the probability of saving is not equal (and all other things are equal). Different proposals are assessed, taking as models proposals for a much more discussed tragic choice situation: saving different numbers of persons. I hold that cases in which (only) numbers are different are structurally similar to cases in which (only) probabilities are different. After a brief defense of this claim, I conclude that some version of consequentialism seems more promising for offering a plausible solution to the probability case.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

I. Hirose , ‘Saving the Greater Number without Combining Claims’, Analysis 61.4 (2001)

M. Otsuka , ‘Scanlon and the Claims of the Many versus the One’, Analysis 60.3 (2000)

R. Kumar , ‘Contractualism on Saving the Many’, Analysis 61.2 (2001)

J. Timmermann , ‘The Individualist Lottery: How People Count, But Not Their Numbers’, Analysis 64.4 (2004)

J. Broome , ‘Selecting People Randomly’, Ethics 95.1 (1984), p. 55

M. Otsuka , ‘Skepticism about Saving the Greater Number’, Philosophy & Public Affairs 32.4 (2004), pp. 421–3

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  • ISSN: 0953-8208
  • EISSN: 1741-6183
  • URL: /core/journals/utilitas
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