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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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Statistical People and Counterfactual Indeterminacy

Statistical People and Counterfactual Indeterminacy

Chapter:
(p.124) 8 Statistical People and Counterfactual Indeterminacy
Source:
Identified versus Statistical Lives
Author(s):

Caspar Hare

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190217471.003.0009

Sometimes, when we fail to help people, there is no fact of the matter about precisely who we would have helped, if we had helped. Counterfactuals are indeterminate. Does this fact vindicate some form of ’identified person bias’? Here is an argument that it does: When there is a particular person who we would have helped, if we had helped (when the victim of our neglect is in this sense ’identified’), our failing to help is very bad, because bad for that person. When there is no particular person who we would have helped, if we had helped (when the victim of our neglect is in this sense ’merely statistical’), our failing to help is not very bad, because not very bad for any particular person. But the argument does not work. This chapter explains why.

Keywords:   identified person bias, counterfactuals, counterfactual indeterminacy, neglect, statistical benefits

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