Joe Horton (UCL): "New and Improvable Lives" (CANCELED)

Wed, Apr 1, 2020, 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm
Lewis Library, Room 120
Free And Open To The Public

Ira W. DeCamp Bioethics Seminar

Abstract: According to weak utilitarianism, or WU, at least when it neither costs you too much nor violates any moral constraints, you should maximize the sum of well-being. This view has considerable explanatory power, but it also has two implications that seem to me implausible. First, it implies that, other things equal, it is wrong to harm yourself, or even to deny yourself benefits. Second, it implies that, other things equal, given the opportunity to create new happy people, it is wrong not to. These implications can be avoided by accepting a complaints-based alternative to WU. However, complaints-based views face two decisive problems, originally noticed by Jacob Ross. My aim in this paper is to develop a view that avoids these problems while retaining the advantages of complaints-based views.

Joe Horton is a lecturer (assistant professor) in philosophy at University College London. He completed his PhD in philosophy at the University of Southern California in 2018. He works mainly on issues in ethics and political philosophy, but is also interested in rationality, epistemology, and philosophy of law. His recent work focuses on questions about interpersonal aggregation and suboptimal supererogation.