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Counting People & Making People Count

Fischer, Jessica Johanna Tatjana; (2022) Counting People & Making People Count. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis concerns the alleged rational requirement, or moral duty, to maximize the good. Such a duty is supposed to be obvious: many philosophers take it for granted that if we can either do some good or do more good, and all other things are equal, we are required to do more good. What could be more obvious, so the thought goes, than that moral agents should be committed to doing more rather than less good? Indeed, such a pro tanto duty to maximize the good is often taken to be a starting point for moral theories. This thesis casts doubt on the assumption that we have a pro tanto duty to maximize the good, arguing that such a duty is neither as plausible nor as uncontroversial as it first appears. To this end, this thesis does two main things: First, it shows that a pro tanto duty to maximize the good relies on theoretical commitments and structures which are potentially problematic, thus leading us to the conclusion that a pro tanto duty to maximize the good must be defended, rather than presupposed. Second, the thesis develops and critically examines a number of conclusions which we arrive at once we adopt a moral theory which discards such a pro tanto duty to maximize the good. While such conclusions are underexplored in the literature, they hold surprising and rich propositions, e.g. about group-membership and the value of individuals. Ultimately, this thesis challenges the idea, entrenched in much of our moral theorising, that individuals are subject to a moral requirement to bring about more good rather than less good, and proposes that a moral theory which eschews such maximization is an attractive, rather than controversial position to adopt.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Counting People & Making People Count
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10144333
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