Coping with Ethical Uncertainty

John R. Welch

About author

John R. Welch, PhD
Saint Louis University - Madrid Campus
Department of Philosophy
Avenida del Valle, 34
28003 Madrid
Spain

E-mail: jwelch7@slu.edu

Abstract


Most ethical decisions are conditioned by formidable uncertainty. Decision makers may lack reliable information about relevant facts, the consequences of actions, and the reactions of other people. Resources for dealing with uncertainty are available from standard forms of decision theory, but successful application to decisions under risk requires a great deal of quantitative information: point-valued probabilities of states and point-valued utilities of outcomes. When this information is not available, this paper recommends the use of a form of decision theory that operates on a bare minimum of information inputs: comparative plausibilities of states and comparative utilities of outcomes. In addition, it proposes a comparative strategy for dealing with second-order uncertainty. The paper illustrates its proposal with reference to a well-known ethical dilemma: Kant’s life-saving lie.

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DOI:

http://dx.doi.org/10.13153/diam.53.0.1105

Article links:

Default URL: http://www.diametros.iphils.uj.edu.pl/index.php/diametros/article/view/1105
English abstract URL: http://www.diametros.iphils.uj.edu.pl/index.php/diametros/article/view/1105/en

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