DECISION THEORY AND ETHICS
The purpose of this paper is to present and discuss possible uses of decision theory in clarifying ethical concepts.
- Individual decision making. The results concerning the concept of rationality could, in principle, be applied to the special case when consequences of available actions are appraised from the ethical viewpoint. The main obstacle: unidimensionality of valuations, postulated by decision theory. Ethical valuations are typically many-dimensional, reflecting conflicts of values.
- Collective decision making. The well-known result by Arrow throws some light on the concept of „fair” social decision. Many criteria that are actually used remain to be investigated along these lines.
- The notion of fair division. This is important for elucidating the meaning of justice. A recent result shows the incompatibility of the postulate of equal chances with the postulate of optimality (in its weakest form).
- Arbitration schemes. Here the problem is to find an ethically satisfactory criterion of resolving (partial) conflicts. A possible ethical objection to the solutions proposed so far: they reflect the strategic aspects of conflict, favouring – in a sense – the stronger opponent.