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date: 29 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

It is natural to think that the most basic questions in ethical theory do not have much to do with probability. Given answers to these questions, we can try to extend them to cases involving probability, though this job might best be handled by more technical disciplines. This chapter is an argument for the opposite view. The major ethical problems to do with probability involve very little mathematics; many topics which seem to have nothing to do with probability are arguably all about probability; and thinking about various problems to do with probability can help solve analogous problems which do not involve probability, sometimes even revealing that popular positions about such problems are incoherent. Among the topics discussed are: interpretations of probability; expected utility theory; utilitarianism; egalitarianism; fairness; the priority view; population size; incommensurability; continuity; nonexpected utility theory; evaluative measurement; decision theory; act consequentialism; rule consequentialism; contractualism; and deontology.

Keywords: ethics, probability, expected utility theory, utilitarianism, egalitarianism, act consequentialism, rule consequentialism, deontology

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