Philosophical Studies

, Volume 172, Issue 6, pp 1593–1601 | Cite as

Sequential dominance and the anti-aggregation principle

Article

Abstract

According to the widely held anti-aggregation principle, it is wrong to save a larger number of people from minor harms rather than a smaller number from much more serious harms. This principle is a central part of many influential and anti-utilitarian ethical theories. According to the sequential-dominance principle, one does something wrong if one knowingly performs a sequence of acts whose outcome would be worse for everyone than the outcome of an alternative sequence of acts. The intuitive appeal of the sequential-dominance principle should be obvious; everyone is knowingly made worse off if it is violated. In this paper, I present a number of cases where one is forced to violate either the anti-aggregation principle or the sequential-dominance principle. I show that these principles conflict regardless of whether one accepts a counterfactual or a temporal, worsening view of harm. Moreover, I show that this result holds regardless of how much worse a harm has to be in order to count as a much more serious harm.

Keywords

The anti-aggregation principle Contractualism Harm Complaints Sequential dominance Sequential choice 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of YorkYorkUK

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