Research Seminar

Larry S. Temkin: Assessing the Goodness of Outcomes: Questioning Some Common Assumptions

Date: 27 June
Time: 10:00-12:00

Larry S. Temkin is Distinguished Professor at Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University.


This talk explores and challenges several common assumptions regarding the assessment of outcome goodness. It is divided into two main parts. In Part I, I present the Narrow Person-Affecting View, which many people believe is relevant to assessing the goodness of outcomes in some contexts. I consider an important challenge to the View posed by Jake Ross, and two responses to the challenge. Both responses involve significant reexamination of how best to understand the Narrow Person-Affecting View and its implications for ranking, and choosing between, different outcomes. In Part II, I take up the question of what neutrality requires of us in assessing outcomes. In particular, I consider whether we should be neutral between different possible locations of the good: space, time, and people. I suggest that from a normative perspective we should treat space differently than time, and people differently than space and time. I also argue that in some cases we should give priority to people over space and time, and to time over space, but that, controversially, in some cases, we should give priority to time over people, as it were. At various points my discussion touches and draws on themes from other work of mine, regarding the Internal Aspects View, the Essentially Comparative View, intransitivity, the Capped Model of Moral Ideals, and Personal versus Impersonal Values, but I don’t presume familiarity with those notions.

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