Correspondence - 1
Parfit (Derek)
Source: Philosophy & Public Affairs, vol. 10, no. 2 (Spring, 1981), pp. 180-181
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. An act utilitarian tries to maximize expected utility. This is the sum of possible benefits, minus possible costs, with each benefit or cost multiplied by the chance that his act will produce it. Two recent essays claim that, in, this calculation, the act utilitarian should ignore very tiny chances. If this is so, he will have no reason to vote, support revolutionary movements, or contribute to countless other public goods.
  2. Why should he ignore very tiny chances? It may be thought that they cannot alter his conclusions. But this is false. […]


For the full text, see Parfit - Correspondence - 1.

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