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Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Volume 5$
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Mark Timmons

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198744665

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198744665.001.0001

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Fairness, Participation, and the Real Problem of Collective Harm

Fairness, Participation, and the Real Problem of Collective Harm

(p.245) 11 Fairness, Participation, and the Real Problem of Collective Harm
Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Volume 5

Julia Nefsky

Oxford University Press

In many cases people collectively cause a morally significant outcome but no individual act seems to make a difference, and so no reason can called upon to act. This chapter explores the possibility of solving this problem by appealing to reasons for action that are not concerned with the difference one makes in outcome. It focuses on three such proposals: ‘Weak Participation’, ‘Strong Participation’, and ‘the Fairness Approach’, arguing that they face a shared problem: while they do identify considerations other than the difference one makes, these considerations do not seem to work as reasons for action as long as one’s act won’t make a difference. The problem, then, extends beyond these three proposals, and is a challenge for non-consequentialists, as well as consequentialists. The upshot is a sharper understanding of what the core challenge in these cases really is, and thus what needs to be done to address it.

Keywords:   climate change, collective, collective action, difference-making, fairness, free-riding, non-consequentialism, overdetermination, participation, voting

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