Expected Utility, the Pond Analogy and Imperfect Duties
Julia Nefsky (University of Toronto at Scarborough)

October 16, 2023, 3:30pm - 5:00pm

This event is online


Stockholm University
University of Gothenburg
University of Vienna

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The Collective Ethics Seminar: Online Presentation – 16 October 2023 - 15.30 - 17.00 CET / 09.30 - 11.00 EST

Julia Nefsky (University of Toronto) - Expected Utility, the Pond Analogy and Imperfect Duties

On Monday 16 October, Julia Nefsky (University of Toronto) will give a presentation in the Collective Ethics Seminar entitled: 'Expected Utility, the Pond Analogy and Imperfect Duties'.

Abstract: This talk brings together ideas from two papers that I am co-writing with Sergio Tenenbaum. In the first half of the talk, I will discuss the expected utility approach to individual obligations in collective impact contexts (like climate change). We argue that in addition to concerns that have been raised in the past, there is a more basic problem with the approach – an internal error with the reasoning involved. I will then, in the second half of the talk, turn to a discussion of our duties to donate money, and specifically Peter Singer’s Pond Analogy and its implications. We argue that various seemingly promising replies to Singer do not succeed. After briefly explaining why, I then turn to what we think is the right way to get out of the analogy. The objection to the expected utility approach presented in the first part of the talk plays an important role. It also informs what we think is the right way to understand our obligations in collective impact contexts – namely, as imperfect duties. I will close by suggesting that the same structure that we describe for imperfect duties in collective impact contexts generalizes to other imperfect duties as well.

The online seminar is open for all to attend. The other remaining presenters this semester areAvia Pasternak (University of Toronto), Veli Mitova (University of Johannesburg), Frank Hindriks (University of Groningen), Barbara Vetter (FU Berlin), Anne Schwenkenbecher (Murdoch University), and Maeve McKeown (University of Groningen).For more information about the seminar and the schedule, please see https://social.univie.ac.at/events/collective-ethics-seminar/.

The session starts at 15.30 CEST / 09.30 EST. You can join the session via the following link: https://univienna.zoom.us/j/62736288881?pwd=SndEdTNoNlZtSzJqcmpabm5NaWIyUT09

We hope to see you at the seminar!

Kind regards,

Gunnar Björnsson (Stockholm University), Olle Blomberg (University of Gothenburg), and Niels de Haan (University of Vienna)

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