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Competing claims, risk and ambiguity

Rowe, Thomas (2017) Competing claims, risk and ambiguity. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.lny7o3n3n89f


This thesis engages with the following three questions. First, how should the presence of risk and ambiguity affect how we distribute a benefit to which individuals have competing claims? (In line with common use in decision theory, a case involves risk when we can assign at least subjective probabilities to outcomes and it involves ambiguity when we cannot assign such probabilities.) Second, what is it about the imposition of a risk of harm itself (that is, independently of the resulting harm), such as the playing of Russian roulette on strangers, which calls for justification? Third, in the pursuit of the greater (expected) good, when is it permissible to foreseeably generate harms for others through enabling the agency of evildoers? Chapters 1 through 3 of the thesis provide an answer the first question. Chapter 1 defends the importance of a unique complaint of unfairness that arises in risky distributive cases: that sometimes individuals are better off at the expense of others. Chapter 2 defends a view called Fairness as Proper Recognition of Claims which guides how a decision-maker ought to act in cases where individuals have unequal claims to a good. Chapter 3 considers how the presence of ambiguity affects distributive fairness, and defends an egalitarian account of the evaluation of ambiguous prospects. Chapter 4 provides an answer to the second question through a defence of the Insecurity Account, which is a unique way in which impositions of risks of harm can be said to harm individuals, namely by rendering the victim’s interests less secure. Chapter 5 provides an answer to the third question by defending what I call the Moral Purity Account, to explain when it is permissible to provide aid in cases where individuals are harmed as a foreseeable consequence of the provision of such aid.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2017 Thomas Rowe
Library of Congress subject classification: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Sets: Departments > Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Supervisor: Voorhoeve, Alex

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