Philosophy

Can we trust wellbeing surveys? A pilot study of comparability, linearity, and neutrality

We present a pilot of 50 survey questions we intended to use to assess questions of comparability, linearity, and neutrality in subjective wellbeing measurements.

The elephant in the bednet: the importance of philosophy when choosing between extending and improving lives

How should we compare the value of extending lives to improving lives? Doing so requires us to make various philosophical assumptions, either implicitly or explicitly. But these choices are rarely acknowledged or discussed by decision-makers, all of them are controversial, and they have significant implications for how resources should be distributed.

The property rights approach to moral uncertainty

Given the current state of our moral knowledge, it is entirely reasonable to be uncertain about a wide range of moral issues. This paper considers the suggestion that appropriateness under moral uncertainty is a matter of dividing one’s resources between the moral theories in which one has credence, allowing each theory to use its resources as it sees fit.

A philosophical review of Open Philanthropy’s Cause Prioritisation Framework

This post is a philosophical review of Open Philanthropy’s Global Health and Wellbeing Cause Prioritisation Framework, the method they use to compare the value of different outcomes. In practice, the framework focuses on the relative value of just two outcomes, increasing income and adding years of life.

Wheeling and dealing: An internal bargaining approach to moral uncertainty

This post explores and evaluates an internal bargaining approach to moral uncertainty. On this account, the appropriate decision under moral uncertainty is the one that would be reached as the result of negotiations between agents representing the interests of each moral theory, who are awarded resources in proportion to your credence in that theory.

The comparability of subjective scales

There are long-standing doubts about whether data from subjective scales are cardinally comparable—should we, for instance, believe that if two people self-report their happiness as '7/10' then they are as happy as each other? It is unclear how to assess whether these doubts are justified without first addressing two unresolved theoretical questions: how do people interpret subjective scales, and which assumptions are required for cardinal comparability? This working paper offers answers to both.