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Modelling the Moral Dimension of Decisions

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Abstract:

Abstract

In this paper we explore the connections between ethics and decision theory. In particular, we consider the question of whether decision theory carries with it a bias towards consequentialist ethical theories. We argue that there are plausible versions of the other ethical theories that can be accommodated by “standard” decision theory, but there are also variations of these ethical theories that are less easily accommodated. So while “standard” decision theory is not exclusively consequentialist, it is not necessarily ethically neutral. Moreover, even if our decision-theoretic models get the right answers vis-à-vis morally correct action, the question remains as to whether the motivation for the non-consequentialist theories and the psychological processes of the agents who subscribe to those ethical theories are lost or poorly represented in the resulting models.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0068.2010.00754.x

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, University of Sydney, Email: mcolyvan@usyd.edu.au 2: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Bond University 3: Department of Philosophy, University of SydneyDepartment of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, London School of Economics

Publication date: September 1, 2010

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