Friday, May 19, 2006

mere addition paradox ii

Insiteful stuff on how the mere addition paradox often used against utilitarianism also applies to almost all theories

"The problem, for both utilitarians and deontologists, results from an intransitivity driven by the distinction between actual and potential persons. For both groups, it seems strange to regard non-existent people as having morally relevant interests (for the utilitarians) or inherent moral rights (for the deontologists). Yet once such people do exist, their interests and/or rights suddenly matter. For utilitarians, that means weighing their interests against those of other real people. For deontologists, it means respecting and protecting their rights. That might seem to require no sacrifice of the rights of others – until we recognize that rights protection is costly, and therefore we can’t avoid trade-offs in rights protection. Within a given regime, the trade-off is felt in the allocation of law enforcement resources. Across regimes, the trade-off is felt in the choice of which regime to favor."


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