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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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Can There be Moral Force to Favoring an Identified over a Statistical Life?

Can There be Moral Force to Favoring an Identified over a Statistical Life?

(p.110) 7 Can There be Moral Force to Favoring an Identified over a Statistical Life?
Identified versus Statistical Lives

Norman Daniels

Oxford University Press

Some researchers attribute the bias in favor of identified persons over statistical persons at risk to the concentration of risk that identified victims face. If they are right, and the concentration of risk is the factor underlying the identified person bias, can this bias ever be morally justified? Both consequentialist and nonconsequentialist theorists reasonably disagree about this issue. I argue that there can be a justification of a bias in favor of one identified person at greater risk than one statistical person because the identified person is worse off (I set aside the issue about whether one identified person can be favored in this way over more than one statistical person). Given the very limited scope of the argument and the pervasiveness of ethical disagreement about the justifiability of the bias, procedural justice should be relied on to resolve resulting policy disagreements.

Keywords:   identified persons, statistical persons, reasonable disagreement, concentration of risk, justifiable bias, worse off

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