On 2–3 March this two-day workshop organised jointly with the Department of Philosophy, University College London will bring together philosophers to discuss problems of risk and aggregation in ethical theory.



Day 1: Friday 2 March, Lakatos Building, LSE

10:15 Arrival and Welcome LAK.206
10:30 Mike Otsuka (LSE): “The Value and Fairness of Equal Chances” Abstract LAK.206
11:30 Tea & Coffee LAK.G01C
12:00 Johanna Privitera (HU Berlin): “Ex Ante or Ex Post? In Defense of a Mixed View” Abstract LAK.206
13:00 Lunch (provided) LAK.G01C
14:00 Anna Mahtani (LSE): “The designators that matter” Abstract LAK.206
15:15 Bastian Steuwer (LSE): “What We Owe … to Whom?” Abstract LAK.206
16:15 Tea & Coffee LAK.G01C
16:45 Korbinian Rueger (Oxford): “Aggregation with Constraints” Abstract LAK.206
18:00 Véronique Munoz-Dardé (UCL & UC Berkeley): “In Praise of Lumpen Humanity” Abstract LAK.206
19:30 Conference Dinner


Day 2: Saturday 3 March, Drayton House, UCL

10:15 Arrival B.06
10:30 Patrick Tomlin & Aart van Gils (Reading): “Relevance Rides Again? Aggregation and ‘local relevance’” Abstract B.06
11:30 Tea & Coffee B.16
12:00 Joe Horton (UCL): “Always Aggregate” Abstract B.06
13:00 Lunch (provided) B.16
14:00 Jessica Fischer (UCL): “Risk, Respect, and Contractualism” B.06
15:15 Susanne Burri (LSE): “Who Should Bear the Costs of Morally Permissible Risk Imposition?” Abstract B.06
16:15 Tea & Coffee B.16
17:00 Victor Tadros (Warwick): “Acts and Conjunction of Acts” Abstract B.06


Register now (Free)

Registration is not required, but admission will be subject to space constraints in the workshop room.


This conference is split between LSE and UCL.

For further help finding your way to LSE, see the LSE Maps and Directions website, or the Lakatos building special needs access guide via DisabledGo.



LSE offers convenience childcare services near campus. Visit the LSE Nursery Homepage for more information and to apply.



This workshop is organised by Jessica Fischer, Johanna Priviteira, Korbinian Rüger and Bastian Steuwer. For any questions please contact Bastian Steuwer.





Mike Otsuka (LSE): “The Value and Fairness of Equal Chances”

 It follows from plausible claims about the laws of physics and the narrowness of the most relevant reference class that the positive chance between 0.0 and 1.0 of a good that a lottery yields on a particular occasion is almost certainly merely epistemic rather than objective. Nevertheless, the provision of merely epistemically equal positive chances of an indivisible, life-saving resource to those with equal claims makes things fairer in two respects: (i) it eliminates partiality and bias in the allocation of resources, and (ii) it ensures the equal distribution of something that it is rational for different individuals to prudentially value equally.     Things would be fairer still if equal chances were objective, not merely epistemic. But this difference between objective and merely epistemic chances does not carry over from considerations of fairness to those of prudential value.


Johanna Privitera (HU Berlin): “Ex Ante or Ex Post? In Defense of a Mixed View”

A recent debate in ethics focuses on whether the claims of persons on whom a risk of harm is imposed should be modeled ex ante or ex post. I propose to settle this dispute by distinguishing between what Victor Tadros calls “open” and “closed” cases. I hold that in closed cases, that is in cases in which we are certain about the overall distribution of the action’s outcomes and are only ignorant about which individual(s) will be harmed, the argument from irrelevant information yields that we should model claims ex post. In open cases, however, that is in cases in which we can only infer statistically that a certain outcome is very likely to be generated, claims should be modeled ex ante.


Anna Mahtani (LSE): “The designators that matter”

Suppose that you have a choice of two actions, A and B, and suppose that action A has better prospects for everyone than action B. Then many would conclude that A is “ex ante pareto superior” to B, and so that you should do A rather than B. I have argued that a person’s prospects can depend on how they are designated, and so for an action to count as ex ante pareto superior we must consider the prospects for every individual under every relevant designator. But what is the domain of relevant designators? If we include all designators, then we get strongly counter-intuitive results. If we impose an arbitrary restriction on the domain, then we get an arbitrary restriction on the scope of the principle. The aim of the paper is to pinpoint the category of designators that gives us the right domain.


Bastian Steuwer (LSE): “What We Owe … to Whom?”

A recent debate among contractualists concerns how to approach cases of risk impositions. There are two main approaches here, ex ante and ex post contractualism. I argue for a new way to draw the distinction between the two by asking whose complaints contractualists should be concerned with. Reframing the debate allows for a new version of ex ante contractualism. This version of ex ante contractualism focuses on the complaints that can be made by rigidly designated individuals. An implication of this view is that it is not required to discount epistemic risk. I argue that such an objection version of ex ante contractualism is superior to both classical ex ante contractualism and ex post contractualism.


Korbinian Rueger (Oxford): “Aggregation with Constraints”

Limited Aggregation views occupy the middle ground between strictly aggregative and strictly non-aggregative views in ethics. The most prominent of these is the ‘Relevance View’. Patrick Tomlin has shown that this view has very implausible implications in many cases where we add or subtract people to the groups we can save from harm. I here propose a different, more modest Limited Aggregation view that does not have these implications.


Véronique Munoz-Dardé (UCL & UC Berkeley): “In Praise of Lumpen Humanity”

What I set out to do in this brief paper is to explain how the contrast of personal and impersonal value fits into Scanlon’s contractualism. I want to connect the focus on personal value with what we might call perspectivalism. Perspectivalism, I suggest, can be understood as motivated by the form of constructivist methodology that Scanlon favours. Whether perspectivalism is an adequate account of the basis of contractualism, though, partly turns on the question of aggregation.


Patrick Tomlin & Aart Van Gils (Reading): “Relevance Rides Again? Aggregation and ‘local relevance’”

Many influential philosophers endorse the ‘Relevance View’ of Limited Aggregation, according to which we can aggregate weaker claims against stronger claims only when the weaker claims are sufficiently close in strength to strongest claims, such that they are ‘relevant’ to them. In ‘On Limited Aggregation’ one of us (Tomlin) showed how standard versions of the Relevance View generating extremely counter-intuitive results, and violate compelling principles. In response to these problems, a new version of Limited Aggregation has been proposed, independently, by Victor Tadros and Garrett Cullity, which avoids the counter-intuitive implications in Tomlin’s cases, while holding on to key anti-aggregative intuitions in others. We present and then test this new ‘Local Relevance’ view. Overall, we think it an improvement on the standard Relevance View, but we will present some ambiguities and difficulties that we have identified. Most damningly, in some cases it violates Tomlin’s Principle of Addition: the principle which states that merely adding a claim to a group cannot lessen its choice-worthiness when compared with a fixed alternative.


Joe Horton (UCL): “Always Aggregate”

Patrick Tomlin has argued that the most promising partially aggregative views in the literature have implausible implications in certain cases in which there are additions or subtractions to the groups of people that we can save. Victor Tadros has recently developed a partially aggregative view that does not have these implications. I present a problem for Tadros’s view, and then extend Tomlin’s argument in a way that, I believe, presents a decisive dilemma for all partially aggregative views. I conclude that we should accept a fully aggregative view.


Susanne Burri (LSE): “Who Should Bear the Costs of Morally Permissible Risk Imposition?”

Driving a car or walking a dog imposes risks of harm on innocent others. As long as an agent abides by the relevant duties of care, she may nevertheless morally permissibly engage in such risk-imposing activities. It is plausible to think that those who voluntarily choose to impose risks on innocent others should be morally required to internalise the costs of their behaviour when things turn out badly. In this paper, I argue against this view. More precisely, I show that its plausibility depends on a set of background conditions that will generally fail to obtain.


Victor Tadros (Warwick): “Acts and Conjunction of Acts”

As everyone knows, sometimes, performing either of two acts is permitted, but performing the conjunction of acts is wrong; and sometimes, performing either of two acts is wrong, but performing the conjunction of acts is permitted. This paper explores some surprising reasons why, and considers the implications of this fact for the relationship between aggregation and risk.