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Faced with a choice between saving one stranger and saving a group of strangers, some people endorse weighted lotteries, which give a strictly greater chance of being saved to the group of strangers than the single stranger. In this paper I attempt to criticize this view. I first consider a particular version of the weighted lotteries, Frances Kamm's procedure of proportional chances, and point out two implausible implications of her proposal. Then, I consider weighted lotteries in general, and claim (1) that the correct thing to distribute is not the chance of being saved but the good of being saved, (2) that assigning some chance to the single stranger is not the only way to give a positive (and equal) respect to the people concerned, and (3) that the weighted lottery appears to be deceptive since it would show the respect to the single stranger in a negligible way.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University College, OxfordOX1 4BH, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2007-03-01

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