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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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Concentrated Risk, the Coventry Blitz, Chamberlain’s Cancer

Concentrated Risk, the Coventry Blitz, Chamberlain’s Cancer

(p.94) 6 Concentrated Risk, the Coventry Blitz, Chamberlain’s Cancer
Identified versus Statistical Lives

Nir Eyal

Oxford University Press

Suppose that Churchill had known in advance about the German Blitz plan for Coventry and decided to do nothing against it, in order to cut overall British war casualties by a little. Would that decision be wrong? Norman Daniels has recently argued that, other things being equal, abandoning individuals or groups to what he calls “concentrated risk”—higher risk than others face—is wrong. Any such decision is unfair toward those who face concentrated risk. A Danielsian might claim that fairness toward the inhabitants of Coventry would have made it wrong to abandon them to unfairly concentrated risk of death. This chapter argues against treating risk Daniels’s way—as a currency of distributive justice. As it shows, applying fairness considerations to risk distribution founders on either epistemic or nonepistemic interpretations of risk.

Keywords:   risk distribution, fair chances, interpretations of probability, identified persons, equality, lottery, Norman Daniels, Blitz, Winston Churchill

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