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Identified versus Statistical LivesAn Interdisciplinary Perspective$
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I. Glenn Cohen, Norman Daniels, and Nir Eyal

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190217471

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190217471.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 06 December 2021

Welfarism, Equity, and the Choice between Statistical and Identified Victims

Welfarism, Equity, and the Choice between Statistical and Identified Victims

Chapter:
(p.53) 4 Welfarism, Equity, and the Choice between Statistical and Identified Victims
Source:
Identified versus Statistical Lives
Author(s):

Matthew D. Adler

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190217471.003.0005

This chapter looks at the choice between saving identified and statistical lives through the lens of welfarism. It discusses a variety of specific welfarist methodologies: cost-benefit analysis; a utilitarian social welfare function, applied either in an ex post or ex ante manner; and an equity-regarding social welfare function, again applied ex post or ex ante. In the course of doing so, the chapter punctures various misconceptions about welfarism and life-saving policies. It is untrue that welfarists necessarily ignore equity; evaluate life-saving policies by focusing on the reduction in expected deaths; or decline to give priority to identified victims. Ex ante equity-regarding welfarists, who care about the distribution of expected well-being, will indeed prioritize identified victims; while ex post equity-regarding welfarist, who care about the expected distribution of realized well-being, will not.

Keywords:   welfarism, cost-benefit analysis, social welfare function, equity, ex post, ex ante

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