Weighing Lives

Paperback | May 18, 2006

byJohn Broome

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We are often faced with choices that involve the weighing of people's lives against each other, or the weighing of lives against other good things. These are choices both for individuals and for societies. A person who is terminally ill may have to choose between palliative care and moreaggressive treatment, which will give her a longer life but at some cost in suffering. We have to choose between the convenience to ourselves of road and air travel, and the lives of the future people who will be killed by the global warming we cause, through violent weather, tropical disease, andheat waves. We also make choices that affect how many lives there will be in the future: as individuals we choose how many children to have, and societies choose tax policies that influence people's choices about having children. These are all problems of weighing lives.How should we weigh lives? Weighing Lives develops a theoretical basis for answering this practical question. It extends the work and methods of Broome's earlier book Weighing Goods to cover the questions of life and death.Difficult problems come up in the process. In particular, Weighing Lives tackles the well-recognized, awkward problems of the ethics of population. It carefully examines the common intuition that adding people to the population is ethically neutral - neither a good nor a bad thing - but eventuallyconcludes this intuition cannot be fitted into a coherent theory of value. In the course of its argument, Weighing Lives examines many of the issues of contemporary moral theory: the nature of consequentialism and teleology; the transitivity, continuity, and vagueness of betterness; the quantitativeconception of wellbeing; the notion of a life worth living; the badness of death; and others.This is a work of philosophy, but one of its distinctive features is that it adopts some of the precise methods of economic theory (without introducing complex mathematics). Not only philosophers, but also economists and political theorists concerned with the practical question of valuing life,should find the book's conclusions highly significant to their work.

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We are often faced with choices that involve the weighing of people's lives against each other, or the weighing of lives against other good things. These are choices both for individuals and for societies. A person who is terminally ill may have to choose between palliative care and moreaggressive treatment, which will give her a longe...

John Broome is at White's Professor of Moral Philosophy, University of Oxford.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.64 inPublished:May 18, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199297703

ISBN - 13:9780199297702

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Table of Contents

1. Weighing lives2. Some technical matters3. Right and good4. Features of Goodness5. Quantities of lifetime wellbeing6. Quantities of temporal wellbeing7. Separability of times8. Separability of lives9. Same-number aggregation10. The neutral level for existence11. Nonstandard betterness12. Indeterminate betterness13. Separability of people14. The standardized total principle15. Same-lifetime aggregation16. A life worth living17. The value of a life18. The theory of weighing livesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

`Review from previous edition Weighing Lives is an exemplary piece of moral philosophy, written at an awesome level of clarity and rigour ... there is scarcely an extraneous word ... brilliant and provocative'Daniel Hausman, Mind