Reasons, Blame, and Collective Harms

Bidragets översatta titel : Skäl, klander och kollektiva skador

Forskningsoutput: AvhandlingDoktorsavhandling (sammanläggning)

743 Nedladdningar (Pure)

Sammanfattning

Collective harm cases are situations in which things will become worse if enough acts of a certain kind are performed but no single act of the relevant kind will make a difference to the outcome. The inefficacy argument says that since one such act does not make a difference to the outcome, you have no outcome-related reason to refrain from acting in this way. If this argument holds, you have no climate-change-related reason to refrain from going for a drive in a fossil fuel powered car, and no harm-to-the-victim-related reason to refrain from flipping the switch in Derek Parfit’s (1984) famous case of the harmless torturers. There are two ways in which you could understand the inefficacy argument. Either, it says that you lack a reason to act in the relevant way because one such act makes no difference at all to the outcome, or it says that you lack a reason to act in the relevant way because the outcome will occur whether or not you act in this way. Either way, the argument is unfounded. Acting in the relevant way does make a difference to the outcome. Given that there is a possibility that the outcome will occur and a possibility that it will not, acting in the relevant way makes the outcome closer to happening (or further from not happening). In technical terms: acting in the relevant way makes the outcome more secure within the relevant possibility horizon. Thus, the first suggested interpretation of the inefficacy argument is unsound.
The second interpretation rests implicitly on a flawed understanding of causation according to which causes always make a difference to whether or not their outcomes occur. An improved account of causation entails that there is a causal connection between the single act and the outcome in collective harm cases. It entails, for instance, that going for just one drive in a fossil fuel powered car is a cause (one of many) of climate change, and that flipping a switch is a cause (one of many) of the victim’s pain in the case of the harmless torturers. Drawing from this account of causation, it is possible to explain when, and why, you have outcome-related reasons in collective harm cases. You have an outcome-related reason to act in a certain way when acting in this way makes a good outcome more secure within the relevant possibility horizon. This account captures the intuitive idea that you have outcome-related reasons to contribute to good outcomes, and to refrain from contributing to bad ones. It also produces intuitively correct verdicts about what outcome-related reasons you have in many different kinds of cases, including collective harm cases (with or without a threshold), pre-emption cases, switching cases, overdetermination cases, omission cases, Frankfurt-style cases, cases where we disregard irrelevant possibilities, the difficult case of the thirsty traveller, and more. Importantly, this account provides the resources to pinpoint the problem in the second variety of the inefficacy argument. You might have an outcome-related reason to refrain from acting in the relevant way in collective harm cases even if the harmful outcome will occur whether you refrain or not: you have such a reason if there is a possibility that the outcome will occur, a possibility that it will not occur, and acting in this way makes the outcome closer to happening.
There is also a question of whether you could be blameworthy for the outcome in collective harm cases. An adjusted version of the inefficacy argument says that you cannot be blameworthy for the outcome in collective harm cases since what you do makes no difference to the outcome. Also this version of the argument is mistaken, and for the same reasons. Building on the mentioned account of causation, it is possible to explain when and why you are blameworthy for an action, omission or outcome. You are blameworthy for X – where X is an act, omission or outcome – if and only if a poor quality of will of yours in relation to X was a cause of X. Like the proposed account of reasons, the account of blameworthiness produces intuitively correct verdicts in a wide range of cases.
Bidragets översatta titel Skäl, klander och kollektiva skador
Originalspråkengelska
KvalifikationDoktor
Tilldelande institution
  • Filosofiska institutionen
  • Humanistiska och teologiska fakulteterna
Handledare
  • Petersson, Björn, handledare
  • Egonsson, Dan, Biträdande handledare
Tilldelningsdatum2021 nov. 20
UtgivningsortLund
Förlag
ISBN (tryckt)978-91-89213-95-1
ISBN (elektroniskt)978-91-89213-96-8
StatusPublished - 2021 nov. 20

Bibliografisk information

Defence details
Date: 2021-11-20
Time: 10:00
Place: LUX C121 eller via https://lu-se.zoom.us/j/67487070696?pwd=WEJNOGFlb1hPYXBQUFBpTWpURXpyZz09 Passcode: 2021.
External reviewer
Name: Stephanie Collins
Title: associate professor
Affiliation: Australian Catholic University Melbourne
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Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Filosofi

Fria nyckelord

  • Skäl
  • Klander
  • Orsakssamband
  • Ineffektivitetsproblemet
  • Kausala bidrag
  • Kausalitet
  • Omärkbara skador
  • Moralisk tur
  • Kontrastiva skäl
  • Den törstige resenären

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