Aggregation Workshop 2011

One-Day Workshop on Interpersonal Aggregation 2011

October 29, 2011

McGill University, Montreal, Canada


  • Ralf Bader (NYU) "Aggregating vs. Balancing"
  • Bruce Chapman (Toronto) "Equal Proportional Value Satisfaction as a Taurek-Friendly Aggregation Tool"
  • Christian Piller (York, UK) "Counting Reasons and Saving Lives"
  • Michael Titelbaum (Wisconsin, Madison) "Contractualism, Chances, and Cumulative Effects"

When you are faced with a choice between saving one stranger and saving five different strangers (and there are no morally relevant differences amongst the six strangers), what is the right thing to do? Intuitively, many people claim that it is right to save the five strangers. However, John Taurek famously claimed that it is right to flip a fair coin because this gives an equal chance of being saved to each stranger. According to Taurek, the number of strangers should not affect our moral judgment. The puzzle is that if you are non-consequentialist, it seems that you must agree with Taruek's counter-intuitive claim. Does this example show the limit of non-consequnetialism? Is it possible for non-consequentialists to justify the case for saving the five strangers without an appeal to interpersonal aggregation? Is a weighted lottery a better procedure than saving the greater number? Does it make sense to say that the loss of five lives is worse than the loss of one life? Is there any other good alternative principle? What is aggregation in the first place? This topic has become known as the Aggregation Problem or Number Problem, and its implications are important for many practical problems such as population-level medical ethics, climate change, and so on. The Third McGill Workshop in Ethics offers an opportunity to discuss this rapidly growing literature (including, the works of Tim Scanlon, Frances Kamm, Michael Otsuka, Judith Thomson, Iwao Hirose, and others).

This workshop is organized by Iwao Hirose and financially supported by SSHRC and CIHR.

The submission deadline was August 15, 2011.

Attendance is free, but registration is required as space is limited.

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