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Matthew Adler (Duke): “Person-Affecting Consequentialism: Equity-Regarding, Desert-Neutral, Repugnant”

18 May, 4:30 pm6:00 pm

This event will take place in person on LSE’s campus. However, those unable to attend in person will have the option of taking part online.

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Please note that these events are routinely recorded, with the edited footage being made publicly available on our website and YouTube channel. We will only record the audio, the slides and the speaker and will not include the Q&A section. However, any question asked during the talk itself will feature in the final edit.

Abstract: The philosophical literature on consequentialism regularly distinguishes between “person-affecting” and “impersonal” moral justifications or accounts. The “person-affecting”/”impersonal” distinction can be interpreted in various ways. I understand it as follows. A person-affecting justificatory framework sees individuals’ well-being gains and losses—well-being effects on persons—as the fundamental moral considerations that underlie the moral goodness of outcomes. My research has investigated the implications of the person-affecting framework, using the concept of “claims-across-outcomes”—a concept that seeks to make the framework more rigorous and to draw clear implications from it. This talk will present and synthesize the results of this research program. In a nutshell: the claims-across-outcomes framework argues for a moral-goodness ranking that satisfies an equity axiom (the Pigou-Dalton axiom), as opposed to utilitarianism; is neutral to individual differences in desert; and (extended to the variable-population context) implies the Repugnant Conclusion. In short, person-affecting consequentialism is equity-regarding, desert-neutral, and repugnant. Surprisingly, perhaps, the simple idea that moral goodness is grounded on well-being gains and losses has these upshots.

Matthew D. Adler is the Richard A. Horvitz Professor of Law and Professor of Economics, Philosophy and Public Policy at Duke University


18 May
4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Event Category:




Room LG.08, 32 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
32 Lincoln's Inn Fields
London, WC2A 3PH United Kingdom
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