Matthew Liao (New York University, Center for Bioethics): Lives, Limbs, and Liver Spots: The Threshold Approach to Limited Aggregation

Mar 30, 2022, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
Robertson Hall, Bowl 001
Open to Princeton University ID Holders
Event Description

Ira W. DeCamp Bioethics Seminars

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ABSTRACT: Limited Aggregation is the view that when there are competing moral claims that demand our attention, we should sometimes satisfy the largest aggregate of claims, depending on the strength of the claims in question. In recent years, philosophers such as Patrick Tomlin and Alastair Norcross have argued that Limited Aggregation violates a number of rational choice principles such as Transitivity, Separability, and Contraction Consistency. Current versions of Limited Aggregation are what may be called Comparative Approaches because they involve assessing the relative strengths of various claims. In this paper, we offer a non-comparative version of Limited Aggregation, which we call the Threshold Approach. It states that there is a non-relative threshold that separates various claims. We demonstrate that the Threshold Approach does not violate rational choice principles such as Transitivity, Separability, and Contraction Consistency, and we show that potential concerns regarding such a view are surmountable.

Matthew Liao holds the Arthur Zitrin Chair in Bioethics and is the Director for The Center for Bioethics at New York University. From 2006 to 2009, he was the Deputy Director and James Martin Senior Research Fellow in the Program on the Ethics of the New Biosciences in the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University. He was the Harold T. Shapiro Research Fellow in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University in 2003–2004, and a Greenwall Research Fellow at Johns Hopkins University and a Visiting Researcher at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University from 2004–2006. In May 2007, he founded Ethics Etc, a group blog for discussing contemporary philosophical issues in ethics and related areas. He is interested in a wide range of issues including ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, moral psychology, and bioethics.

Respondent: Sam Preston, Princeton