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On What MattersVolume Two$
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Derek Parfit

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199572816

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199572816.001.0001

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How the Numbers Count

How the Numbers Count

(p.191) 21 How the Numbers Count
On What Matters

Samuel Scheffler

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents a philosophical discussion of Thomas M. Scanlon's Contractualist Formula, which says we ought to follow the principles that no one could reasonably reject. Scanlon makes various claims about what are admissible grounds for rejecting principles. According to his Individualist Restriction, we must appeal to their implications only for ourselves, or for other single people. This restriction is given some support by his appeal to the idea of justifiability to each person. In proposing his Individualist Restriction, one of Scanlon's aims is to avoid certain Utilitarian conclusions. According to Utilitarianism, it can be right to impose a great burden on one person, if we can thereby give small benefits to a large enough number of other people. Scanlon assumes that Utilitarians go astray by adding together these people's benefits. On Scanlon's view, in such cases, the numbers don't count. This chapter argues that, rather than denying that the numbers count, Scanlon should return to a stronger version of one of his earlier claims, known as the Contractualist Priority View.

Keywords:   principles, Thomas M. Scanlon, Contractualist Formula, Individualist Restriction, justifiability, Utilitarianism, Contractualist Priority View

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