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Suppose we want to do the most good we can with a particular sum of money, but we cannot be certain of the consequences of different ways of making use of it. This article explores how our attitudes towards risk and ambiguity bear on what we should do. It shows that risk-avoidance and ambiguity-aversion can each provide good reason to divide our money between various charitable organizations rather than to give it all to the most promising one. It also shows how different attitudes towards risk and ambiguity affect whether we should give to an organization which does a small amount of good for certain or to one which does a large amount of good with some small or unknown probability.
Desire satisfactionists are united by their belief that what makes someone well-off is the satisfaction of their desires. But this commitment obscures a number of underlying differences, since there are several theoretical choice points on the way to making this commitment precise. This article is about two of the most important choice points. The first concerns an epistemic requirement on well-being. Suppose that one's desire that P is satisfied. Must one also know (or believe, or justifiably believe) that one's desire that P is satisfied in order to benefit from P? If so, there is an epistemic requirement on well-being. The second concerns the time at which one benefits. Well-being is a temporal phenomenon: given that one benefits from the satisfaction of one's desire that P, when does one benefit? Perhaps one benefits at the times at which one desires P, or the times at which P obtains, or both. I defend a view I call “concurrent awareness desire satisfactionism”: one benefits only at times at which both one desires P and P obtains (concurrence) and one benefits only if one is aware that one's desire is satisfied (awareness). I motivate this view by showing how it gives us solutions to many of the canonical problems facing desire satisfactionism. Then I put the two parts of the view together and explore some of its further implications. Ultimately, I conclude that well-being is an organic unity composed of a desiderative component, an epistemic component, and a worldly component, none of which are valuable on their own, but which are valuable when they are related in the right way.
In this article, I present a novel argument against abortion. In short, what makes it wrong to kill someone is that they are a counterfactual person; counterfactual persons are individuals such that, were they not killed, they would have been persons. My view accommodates two intuitions which many views concerning the wrongness of killing fail to account for: embryo rescue cases and the impermissibility of infanticide. The view avoids embryo rescue cases because embryos in the rescue scenarios are not counterfactual people: they are not counterfactual people because it is false to say that, were they not killed, they would have been persons. As a result, it does not follow from my account that there is a prohibition against allowing embryos to die. On the other hand, infants are counterfactual people: an infant is an individual such that, were she not killed, she would have been a person.
In a recent article in this journal, Justin Klocksiem proposes a novel response to the widely discussed failure to benefit problem for the counterfactual comparative account of harm (CCA). According to Klocksiem, proponents of CCA can deal with this problem by distinguishing between facts about there being harm and facts about an agent's having done harm. In this reply, we raise three sets of problems for Klocksiem's approach.