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CEPPA Talk (in person) – Matthew Adler (Duke University)
May 25, 2022 @ 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Location: Edgecliffe G03 and Teams
Title: “Person-Affecting Consequentialism: Equity-Regarding, Desert-Neutral, Repugnant”
The philosophical literature on consequentialism regularly distinguishes between “person-affecting” and “impersonal” moral justifications or accounts. The “person-affecting”/”impersonal” distinction can be interpreted in various ways. I understand it as follows. A person-affecting justificatory framework sees individuals’ well-being gains and losses—well-being effects on persons—as the fundamental moral considerations that underlie the moral goodness of outcomes.
My research has investigated the implications of the person-affecting framework, using the concept of “claims-across-outcomes”—a concept that seeks to make the framework more rigorous and to draw clear implications from it. This talk will present and synthesize the results of this research program.
In a nutshell: the claims-across-outcomes framework argues for a moral-goodness ranking that satisfies an equity axiom (the Pigou-Dalton axiom), as opposed to utilitarianism; is neutral to individual differences in desert; and (extended to the variable-population context) implies the Repugnant Conclusion. In short, person-affecting consequentialism is equity-regarding, desert-neutral, and repugnant. Surprisingly, perhaps, the simple idea that moral goodness is grounded on well-being gains and losses has these upshots.