University of Kansas, Spring 2004
Philosophy 555: Justice and Economic Systems

Class notes: Unger, chapter 4: “Between Some Rocks and Some Hard Places: On Causing and Preventing Serious Loss”

The following notes correspond roughly to what we cover, including at least a portion of what I put on the board or the screen, in class. In places they may be more or less comprehensive than what we actually cover in class, and should not be taken as a substitute for your own observations and records of what goes on in class.

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  1. another puzzle
    1. the Foot vs. the Trolley
    2. why a negative judgment towards the former, and a positive judgment towards the latter? (p. 87.5)
    3. some factors intensifying the puzzle (p. 87.7)
      1. more good done in the Foot
      2. less harm in the Foot
  2. more negative subjective factors
    1. projective separating (section 5)
    2. protophysics (section 6)
    3. pushing, negative stereotypes, psychological proximity (section 7)
  3. remedies
    1. method of several options (p. 91.3)
    2. method of combining (p. 107.8)
  4. Liberation Hypothesis vs. Fanaticism Hypothesis
    1. Liberation Hypothesis: additional options free us from distortional factors (p. 94.7–9)
    2. Fanaticism Hypothesis: additional options make us fanatically emphasize lessening losses over observing morally more significant prohibitions (such as prohibitions against harming others) (p. 95.1–3)
      1. the Explosive Form: we “explosively” judge any loss-lessening conduct well (p. 115.7)
      2. the Distractive Form: we get distracted by multiple options and fail to judge well (p. 117.2)