Moral Uncertainty and Its Consequences

By Ted Lockhart | Go to book overview

Nine Retrospective

I hope that at this point it is clear to the reader how the main themes of this book relate to one another. I began in chapter 1 by posing the problem of decision- making under moral uncertainty and claiming that the problem is a prevalent, if not ubiquitous, one for moral agents. I then argued in chapter 2 that insofar as moral considerations preempt nonmoral considerations in our action choices, we should (rationally) follow PR2 and choose actions that have maximum probability of being morally right. In situations in which individuals lack the information needed to apply PR2 directly, the proper strategy is to maximize the probability that one's actions conform to PR2. This latter injunction is PR3.

In chapter 3, we saw in considerable detail how both PR2 and PR3 can be applied to women's decisions whether to have abortions. I then argued in chapter 4 that, from some theoretical perspectives, it is reasonable to think of moral rightness as a many-valued rather than a two-valued (right or wrong) quantity. This meant that my initial principle for decision-making under moral uncertainty, PR2, is really a special case of the more general principle, PR4, which advises us to maximize the expected degrees of moral rightness of our actions. We saw how using PR4 instead of PR2 would in some instances make a difference in which actions we should (rationally) choose, and we reconsidered women's abortion decisions in light of that result. We also found it necessary to formulate another principle, PR5, for use in situations in which decision-makers do not have the

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Moral Uncertainty and Its Consequences
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Contents xv
  • One Decision-Making Under Moral Uncertainty 3
  • Two Principles for Decision-Making Under Moral Uncertainty 22
  • Three Abortion and Moral Uncertainty 50
  • Conclusions 72
  • Four Degrees of Moral Rightness 74
  • Conclusions 96
  • Five Shall I Act Supererogatorily? 98
  • Conclusions 110
  • Six Confidentiality and Moral Uncertainty 111
  • Conclusions 122
  • Seven a Decision-Theoretic Reconstruction of Roe V. Wade 124
  • Conclusions 140
  • Eight Long-Run Morality 143
  • Nine Retrospective 169
  • Appendix: Decisions with Uncertain Probabilities 171
  • Notes 177
  • Index 207
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