JOHN TAUREK SHOULD THE NUMBERS COUNT PDF
Mass Nouns, Count Nouns and Non-Count Laycock – – In Alex Barber (ed.), Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics. Elsevier. A crucial part of Taurek’s argument is his contention that i. John M. Taurek, ” Should the Numbers Count?” Philosophy & Public Affairs 6, no. 4. (Summer I ). Oxford University Press USA publishes scholarly works in all academic disciplines, bibles, music, children’s books, business books, dictionaries, reference.
|Published (Last):||24 December 2018|
|PDF File Size:||9.93 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||12.14 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
Who Is Afraid of Numbers? I n recent years, many nonconsequentialists such as Frances Kamm and Thomas Scanlon have been puzzling over what has come to be known as the Number Problem, which is how to show that the greater number in a rescue situation should be saved without aggregating the claims of the manya typical kind of consequentialist move that seems to violate the separateness of persons. In this paper, I argue that these nonconsequentialists may be making the task more difficult than necessary, because allowing aggregation does not prevent one from being a shuld.
I shall explain jphn a nonconsequentialist can still respect the separateness of persons while allowing for aggregation. Many nonconsequentialists have been puzzling over what has come to be known as the Number Problem, which is how to shojld that the greater number in a rescue situation should shouls saved without aggregating the claims of the many, a typical kind of consequentialist move that seems to violate the separateness of persons.
There is a tsunami and both islands will soon be immersed in water, killing whoever is on the island. You only have time to go to one of the islands to rescue the people on it. Other things being equal, e.
To which island should you go? For consequentialists, the answer seems simple: Save the greater number because consequentialism aims to produce the best state of affairs and, other things being equal, more aggregate lives saved may be a better state of affairs than fewer lives saved. Nonconsequentialists who do not want to aggregate the claims of the many, because it seems to violate the separateness of persons — and who, at the same time, do not accept, as Taurek does, that numbers do not matter — have in recent years advanced several novel solutions to the Number Problem.
In this paper, I shall argue that pro-number nonconsequentialists may be making the task more difficult than necessary and that there may be a simpler nonconsequentialist solution to the Number Problem.
In particular, I shall argue that a number can permit aggregation and still respect the separateness of persons. I begin by giving an overview of two of the best known pro-number nonconsequentialist solutions: Numbegs an individual who is not balanced out has a complaint. Those balanced out on his side are, I would say, the beneficiaries of his successful complaint.
A number of writers have however argued that the Kamm-Scanlon Argument covertly involves combining claims. Using a balancing scale metaphor, Otsuka notes that the Kamm-Scanlon Argument requires that one first place A on one of the scales and B on the other scale, at which point the scales taurrek evenly.
This suggests that the Kamm-Scanlon Argument still involves covertly combining the claims of B and C. At the same time, a world in which A survives and B dies seems just as bad as a world in which A dies and B survives.
Given this, it seems that we can substitute A for B on one side of the equation. If so, we obtain the outcome that it is worse if B and C die than if only A dies. The Argument from Best Outcome can be represented as follows:.
Saving A is equivalent to saving B. From unmbers, one can substitute A with B. This argument seems then to show that the Kamm-Scanlon Argument need not involve combining claims; it only requires the condition of Pareto Optimality, which is not an aggregative condition.
Saving A seems equivalent to saving B. In such a case, we would toss a coin to give each an equal chance. According to some of its advocates, the weighted lottery then solves the Number Problem if one accepts that if and when B is selected, then having reached B, one should also save C. It might be argued that the Weighted Lottery Argument gives the individual in the lesser group too much weight. Suppose there are one million people on one side and one individual on the other.
And suppose a one-million-and-one sided dice has been cast in favor of the one individual. One would be required to save the one individual on this approach. But this seems dhould. Still, advocates of the weighted lottery could just bite the bullet and assert that this is what is required to solve the Number Problem. It might also be pointed out that the fact that the weighted lottery makes it more likely than not — perhaps even overwhelmingly likely — that the greater number will be saved is insufficient to establish that the Weighted Lottery Argument solves the Number Problem, given that the Number Problem is that of explaining why we should sgould save the greater number in these cases.
There may be other problems with the Weighted Lottery Argument, but I shall not explore them here. A Separateness of Persons Objection.
However, consider the Argument from Best Outcome, the reasoning process of taureek is similar to the Kamm-Scanlon Argument. It could be argued that someone who believes in the separateness of persons would not allow Premise 4, that one can substitute A with B. However, the method of Pairwise Comparison also faces the Separateness of Persons Objection, because if persons are incommensurable, then surely one could not perform pairwise comparisons.
Indeed, if A and B are both incommensurable, one could not compare the claim of one with the claim of the other, numers the two claims would simply be incommensurable. It is worth noting that this point further applies to those who might seek to use the method of Pairwise Comparison to defend the opposite claim, that is, the Taurekean claim that numbers do not matter. Again, however, if A, B and C are all incommensurable, such a method of pairwise comparison could not be shluld, as the claims of A, B and C would simply be incommensurable.
Arguably, someone who holds the view that persons are incommensurable could argue that incommensurable values simply cannot be divided and proportioned. For, when one tosses a coin as Taurek suggests, one need not thereby claim that persons are commensurable and can be substituted or numgers or be given some proportional chance. Instead, coung could merely be making a decision to save someone, given that everyone is incommensurable, so that saving none at all is the only thing one should not do.
In fact, someone who holds the view that persons are incommensurable may not even need to toss a coin. She may simply choose to save someone. Indeed, numbdrs noted earlier, Taurek does not say that one must toss a coin. Fortunately, pro-number nonconsequentialists can avoid the Separateness of Persons Objection by rejecting the particular view of separateness of persons that underlies this objection. However, I shall argue that their alternative view of separateness of persons, which refuses to allow aggregation, faces the problem of arbitrariness.
The particular view of the separateness of persons that underlies the Separateness of Persons Objection is the view that persons are incommensurable. While PAI numbdrs some plausibility, it has the following counterintuitive implication. Suppose A is in danger of breaking his finger and B is in danger of losing her life. Other things being equal, it seems that we should save B instead of Jphn.
Rethinking how non-consequentialists should count lives
However, if, as PAI says, all persons are incommensurable, then there seems to be no way of comparing A and B. If so, then on PAI, it seems that one would be permitted to save either A or B; the only thing one should not do is to do nothing. Therefore, it seems that one should reject PAI since it has this implication. If so, and if thee Separateness of Persons Objection relies on PAI, then one could also dismiss the objection on this basis.
Call this the Broken Finger Objection. The rejection of PAI opens up an opportunity for pro-number nonconsequentialists to offer a different view of the separateness of persons, one in which pairwise interpersonal comparison, substitution, balancing and division would be permitted.
In fact, though not often noted, pro-number nonconsequentialists do have a different view of the separateness of persons. Therefore, PAC would require that we save the individual who stands to lose her life instead of the individual who only stands to lose his finger.
The problem with PAC though is that its stopping point seems arbitrary. While it permits comparison, balancing, substitution and division, it refuses to permit aggregation. One might ask, why not? If equal claims can be interpersonally substituted and divided, why can they not be aggregated? They would still be equal claims that are aggregated. Of course, pro-number nonconsequentialists have shied away from aggregation because they think that it violates the separateness of persons.
But it seems that pairwise interpersonal comparison, balancing, substitution, and division may also do the same. Echoing Rawls’s discussion of this matter, Robert Nozick explains the problem of making a person undergo some sacrifice for some ‘overbalancing’ good: Individually, we each sometimes choose to undergo some pain or sacrifice for a greater benefit or to avoid a greater harm: In each case, some cost is borne for the sake of the greater overall good.
Why not, similarly, hold that some persons have to bear some costs that benefit other persons more, for the sake of the overall social good? There are only individual people, different individual people, with their own individual lives.
Using one of these people for the benefit of others, uses him and benefits the others. To use a person in this way does not sufficiently respect and take account of the fact that he is a separate person, that his is the only life he has. He does not get some overbalancing good from his sacrifice, and no one is entitled to force this upon him.
To give just one example, notice how easily one can transform this passage into an objection to substituting the equivalent good of one individual for another: Individually, we each sometimes choose to undergo some pain or sacrifice for an equivalent benefit or to avoid an equivalent harm: Why not, similarly, hold that some person has to bear some costs that benefit another person, as long as the good of one individual is equivalent to that of another?
Using one of these people for the benefit of another, uses him and benefits the other. He does not get some substituted, equivalent good from his sacrifice, and no one is entitled to force this upon him. As far as I can tell, it will be difficult for pro-number nonconsequentialists to show how pairwise interpersonal comparison, balancing, substitution and division are any more or less respectful of the separateness of persons than aggregation is. Note that I am not arguing that nonconsequentialists are wrong to criticize aggregation from the perspective of the separateness of persons.
Rather, I am claiming that from shoule perspective, it is hard to see why substitution and the like would be permitted, but not aggregation. Call this the Arbitrariness Objection.
A Simple Solution to the Number Problem. At this point, pro-number nonconsequentialists might believe that they are in a dilemma: Given the Arbitrariness Objection, it might seem that if they still reject aggregation, then they must also reject pairwise interpersonal comparison, substitution, and the like.
If so, they would in effect be embracing the Taurekean position that numbers do not count. Or, it might seem that they must embrace aggregation and thereby whole-sale consequentialism. I shall now argue that iohn dilemma may be more apparent than real. There may be an easy way out for pro-number nonconsequentialists, namely, non-consequentialists can accept aggregation and still respect the separateness of persons.
How is this possible? A nonconsequentialist need not deny that the number of people who will die may be one consideration jon determining what one ought to do. However, unlike a consequentialist of the simpler sort at least where the only relevant consideration may be the number of lives at stake, a nonconsequentialist may argue that numbers are not the only relevant consideration; one also needs to consider whether, for example, it is just to prosecute an innocent individual.