Weighing Lives

Weighing Lives

We are often faced with choices that involve the weighing of people's lives against each other, or the weighing of lives against other good things. These are choices both for individuals and for societies. A person who is terminally ill may have to choose between palliative care and more aggressive treatment, which will give her a longer life but at some cost in suffering. We have to choose between the convenience to ourselves of road and air travel, and the lives of the future people whowill be killed by the global warming we cause, through violent weather, tropical disease, and heat waves. We also make choices that affect how many lives there will be in the future: as individuals we choose how many children to have, and societies choose tax policies that influence people's choices about having children. These are all problems of weighing lives. How should we weigh lives? Weighing Lives develops a theoretical basis for answering this practical question. It extends the work and methods of Broome's earlier book Weighing Goods to cover the questions of life and death. Difficult problems come up in the process. In particular, Weighing Lives tackles the well-recognized, awkward problems of the ethics of population. It carefully examines the common intuition that adding people to the population is ethically neutral - neither a good nor a bad thing - but eventually concludes this intuition cannot be fitted into a coherent theory of value. In the course of its argument,Weighing Lives examines many of the issues of contemporary moral theory: the nature of consequentialism and teleology; the transitivity, continuity, and vagueness of betterness; the quantitative conception of wellbeing; the notion of a life worth living; the badness of death; and others. This is a work of philosophy, but one of its distinctive features is that it adopts some of the precise methods of economic theory (without introducing complex mathematics). Not only philosophers, but also economists and political theorists concerned with the practical question of valuing life, should find the book's conclusions highly significant to their work.

Weighing Lives in War

Weighing Lives in War

The chief means to limit and calculate the costs of war are the philosophical and legal concepts of proportionality and necessity. Both categories are meant to restrain the most horrific potential of war. The volume explores the moral and legal issues in the modern law of war in three major categories. In so doing, the contributions will look for new and innovative approaches to understanding the process of weighing lives implicit in all theories of jus in bello: who counts in war, understanding proportionality, and weighing lives in asymmetric conflicts. These questions arise on multiple levels and require interdisciplinary consideration of both philosophical and legal themes.

Weighing Life

Weighing Life

My Children have always been interested in my childhood in England, and thought that the war years had to have been hard. In speaking about these years and thinking about my parents, it seemed to me that maybe other people would be interested in the life of a family in the war years of WWII. These are some of the memories that I have and the pictures that I have kept and collected from my family in England. I feel lucky that I have the pictures of people that are close to my heart.

Weighing and Reasoning

Themes from the Philosophy of John Broome

Weighing and Reasoning

John Broome has made major contributions to, and radical innovations in, contemporary moral philosophy. His research combines the formal method of economics with philosophical analysis. Broome's works stretch over formal axiology, decision theory, philosophy of economics, population axiology, the value of life, the ethics of climate change, the nature of rationality, and practical and theoretical reasoning. Weighing and Reasoning brings together fifteen original essays from leading philosophers who have been influenced by the work and thought of John Broome. It aims to offer a comprehensive evaluation of Broome's wide-ranging and far-reaching philosophical works over the past thirty years. The volume comprises two parts. The first part is focused on Broome's work on the theory of value, as exemplified in his books Weighing Goods, Weighing Lives, Economics out of Economics, and Climate Matters. The second part is focused on his work on practical and theoretical reasoning, which culminated in his Rationality through Reasoning. This volume also includes a piece by Broome on his intellectual history to date.

Rethinking the Good

Moral Ideals and the Nature of Practical Reasoning

Rethinking the Good

In choosing between moral alternatives -- choosing between various forms of ethical action -- we typically make calculations of the following kind: A is better than B; B is better than C; therefore A is better than C. These inferences use the principle of transitivity and are fundamental to many forms of practical and theoretical theorizing, not just in moral and ethical theory but in economics. Indeed they are so common as to be almost invisible. What Larry Temkin's book shows is that, shockingly, if we want to continue making plausible judgments, we cannot continue to make these assumptions. Temkin shows that we are committed to various moral ideals that are, surprisingly, fundamentally incompatible with the idea that "better than" can be transitive. His book develops many examples where value judgments that we accept and find attractive, are incompatible with transitivity. While this might seem to leave two options -- reject transitivity, or reject some of our normative commitments in order to keep it -- Temkin is neutral on which path to follow, only making the case that a choice is necessary, and that the cost either way will be high. Temkin's book is a very original and deeply unsettling work of skeptical philosophy that mounts an important new challenge to contemporary ethics.

Lives We Carry with Us

Profiles of Moral Courage

Lives We Carry with Us

Lives We Carry with Us gathers together for the first time a diverse cross section of Coles’s profiles, originally published in our premier magazines over the span of five decades but never before collected in book form. Depicting the famous, the lesser known, and the unknown, the profiles here include portraits of James Agee, Dorothy Day, Erik Erikson, Dorothea Lange, Walker Percy, Bruce Springsteen, Simone Weil, and William Carlos Williams among others. Coles has chosen figures whom he considers his guardian spirits—individuals who shaped, challenged, and inspired one of the great moral voices of our era. Profiles include: James Rufus Agee (1909 – 1955) was was one of the most influential film critics in the U.S. He was the author of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (to which he contributed the text and Walker Evans contributed the photographs) which grew out of an assignment the two men accepted in 1936 to produce a magazine article on the conditions among white sharecropper families in the American South. His autobiographical novel, A Death in the Family (1957), won the author a posthumous Pulitzer Prize. Simone Weil (1909 – 1943) was a French philosopher, activist, and religious searcher, whose death in 1943 was hastened by starvation. Weil published during her lifetime only a few poems and articles. With her posthumous works --16 volumes in all -- Weil has earned a reputation as one of the most original thinkers of her era. T.S. Eliot described her as "a woman of genius, of a kind of genius akin to that of the saints." William Carlos Williams (1883 – 1963), was an American poet who was also a pediatrician and general practitioner of medicine. Williams "worked harder at being a writer than he did at being a physician," wrote biographer Linda Wagner-Martin; but during his long lifetime, Williams excelled at both. He considered himself a socialist and opponent of capitalism and is probably spinning in his grave at the current state of things, economically and socially. One of his best known poems is an "apology poem" taught to most American children in elementary school called "This Is Just to Say" : "I have eaten / the plums / that were in / the icebox / and which / you were probably /saving / for breakfast. / Forgive me / they were delicious / so sweet /and so cold." Dorothy Day (1897 – 1980) was an American journalist and social activist who became most famous for founding, with Peter Maurin, the Catholic Worker movement, a nonviolent, pacifist movement which combines direct aid for the poor and homeless with nonviolent direct action on their behalf. Dorothea Lange (1895 – 1965) was a hugely influential American documentary photographer and photojournalist, best know for her Depression-era work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Lange's photographs humanized the tragic consequences of the Great Depression and profoundly influenced the development of documentary photography, one of Robert Coles' great passions. Erik Erikson (1902 – 1994) was a Danish-German-American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theories on social development of human beings. He may be most famous for coining the phrase "identity crisis." Erikson's greatest innovation was to postulate not five stages of development, as Freud has done with his psychosexual stages, but eight. Erik Erikson believed that every human being goes through a certain number of stages to reach his or her full development, theorizing eight stages, that a human being goes through from birth to death. Walker Percy (1916 – 1990) was an American southern author best known for his philosophical novels set in and around New Orleans, the first of which, The Moviegoer, won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1962. He devoted his literary life to the exploration of "the dislocation of man in th

Weighing Goods

Equality, Uncertainty and Time

Weighing Goods

This study uses techniques from economics to illuminate fundamental questions in ethics, particularly in the foundations of utilitarianism. Topics considered include the nature of teleological ethics, the foundations of decision theory, the value of equality and the moral significance of a person's continuing identity through time.

Is the Planet Full?

Is the Planet Full?

What are the impacts of population growth? Can our planet support the demands of the ten billion people anticipated to be the world's population by the middle of this century? While it is common to hear about the problems of overpopulation, might there be unexplored benefits of increasing numbers of people in the world? How can we both consider and harness the potential benefits brought by a healthier, wealthier and larger population? May more people mean more scientists to discover how our world works, more inventors and thinkers to help solve the world's problems, more skilled people to put these ideas into practice? In this book, leading academics with a wide range of expertise in demography, philosophy, biology, climate science, economics and environmental sustainability explore the contexts, costs and benefits of a burgeoning population on our economic, social and environmental systems.

Rationality Through Reasoning

Rationality Through Reasoning

Rationality Through Reasoning answers the question of howpeople are motivated to do what they believe they ought to do,built on a comprehensive account of normativity, rationality andreasoning that differs significantly from much existingphilosophical thinking. Develops an original account of normativity, rationality andreasoning significantly different from the majority of existingphilosophical thought Includes an account of theoretical and practical reasoning thatexplains how reasoning is something we ourselves do, rather thansomething that happens in us Gives an account of what reasons are and argues that theconnection between rationality and reasons is much less close thanmany philosophers have thought Contains rigorous new accounts of oughts including ownedoughts, agent-relative reasons, the logic of requirements,instrumental rationality, the role of normativity in reasoning,following a rule, the correctness of reasoning, the connectionsbetween intentions and beliefs, and much else. Offers a new answer to the ‘motivation question’ ofhow a normative belief motivates an action.

A Companion to the Philosophy of Time

A Companion to the Philosophy of Time

A Companion to the Philosophy of Time presents the broadest treatment of this subject yet; 32 specially commissioned articles - written by an international line-up of experts – provide an unparalleled reference work for students and specialists alike in this exciting field. The most comprehensive reference work on the philosophy of time currently available The first collection to tackle the historical development of the philosophy of time in addition to covering contemporary work Provides a tripartite approach in its organization, covering history of the philosophy of time, time as a feature of the physical world, and time as a feature of experience Includes contributions from both distinguished, well-established scholars and rising stars in the field