Leo Yan, Department of Philosophy, presented a paper titled "Incomparability, Consequentialism, and Risk" at the Central Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association, held in Chicago, Illinois, February 26-29.


It is plausible that some things are morally incomparable. That is, they may be neither better than, worse than, nor equal to each other in moral value. Such incomparability can make determining the moral permissibility of different actions more complicated. However, it seems clear that even when moral incomparability is involved, it is always morally impermissible to impose an uncompensated risk of harm. That is, it is always impermissible to choose an option that may result in a morally worse outcome but has no possibility of resulting in a morally better outcome.

In this paper, I will argue that no act consequentialist theory can actually accept moral incomparability while also condemning all uncompensated risks of harm. So the act consequentialist will have to either deny morally incomparability or morally condone at least some uncompensated risks of harm.

Department of Philosophy