Fairness in Life and Death Cases

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    • Pages : 321 à 351
    • ISSN : 1572-8420-62-3
    • DOI : 10.1007/s10670-004-4499-y
    • Date de création : 04-01-2011
    • Dernière mise à jour : 04-01-2011



    John Taurek famously argued that, in ‘conflict cases’, where we are confronted with a smaller and a larger group of individuals, and can choose which group to save from harm, we should toss a coin, rather than saving the larger group. This is primarily because coin-tossing is fairer: it ensures that each individual, regardless of the group to which he or she belongs, has an equal chance of being saved. This article provides a new response to Taurek’s argument. It proposes that there are two possible types of unfairness that have to be avoided in conflict cases, as far as possible: ‘selection unfairness’, which is the unfairness of not giving individuals an equal chance of being saved; and ‘outcome unfairness’, which is the unfairness of not actually saving them, when others are saved. Since saving the greater number generates less outcome unfairness than coin-tossing, it is argued that, in many conflict cases, fairness demands that we save the greater number.