Participation and Superfluity

In: Journal of Moral Philosophy

Why act when the effects of one’s act are negligible? For example, why boycott sweatshop or animal products if doing so makes no difference for the better? According to recent proposals, one may still have a reason to boycott in order to avoid complicity or participation in harm. Julia Nefsky has argued that accounts of this kind suffer from the so-called “superfluity problem,” basically the question of why agents can be said to participate in harm if they make no difference to it. This paper develops and responds to Nefsky’s challenge.

  • Barnett Z. 2018. No Free Lunch: The Significance of Tiny Contributions. Analysis 78: 3-13.

  • Barry C. & G. Øverland 2016. Responding to Global Poverty . Harm Responsibility and Agency. cup.

  • Budolfson M. B. 2015. Is It Wrong to Eat Meat from Factory Farms? If So, Why? In Bramble B. & Fischer B. eds. The Moral Complexities of Eating Meat ch. 5. oup.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cullity G. 2000. Pooled Beneficence. In Almeida M. J. ed. Imperceptible Harms and Benefits pp. 1-23. Kluwer.

  • DeGrazia D. 2009. Moral Vegetarianism from a Very Broad Basis. Journal of Moral Philosophy 6: 143-65.

  • Driver J. 2015. Individual Consumption and Moral Complicity. In Bramble B. & Fischer B. eds. The Moral Complexities of Eating Meat ch. 4. oup.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Glover J. 1975. It Makes No Difference Whether or Not I Do It. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 49: 171-90.

  • Gruzalski B. 1986. Parfit’s Impact on Utilitarianism. Ethics 96: 760-83.

  • Harman E. 2015. Eating Meat as a Morally Permissible Moral Mistake. In A. Chignell et al. eds., Philosophy Comes to Dinner ch. 12. Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hart H. L. A. & Honoré T. 1985. Causation in the Law (2nd ed.). Clarendon.

  • Kagan S. 2011. Do I Make a Difference? Philosophy & Public Affairs 39: 105-41.

  • Kutz C. 2000. Complicity. Ethics and Law for a Collective Age. cup.

  • Lane M. 2018. Uncertainty, Action and Politics: The Problem of Negligibility. In Forrester K. & Smith S. eds. Nature Action and the Future ch. 8. cup.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lawford-Smith H. 2015. Unethical Consumption and Obligations to Signal. Ethics & International Affairs 29: 315-30.

  • Lawford-Smith H. 2018. Does Purchasing Make Consumers Complicit in Global Labour Injustice? Res Publica 24: 319-38.

  • Lepora C. & Goodin R. E. 2013. On Complicity and Compromise. oup.

  • Martin A. M. 2015. Factory Farming and Consumer Complicity. In Chignell A. et al. eds. Philosophy Comes to Dinner ch. 11. Routledge.

  • McPherson T. 2015. Why I am a Vegan (and You Should Be One Too). In Chignell A. et al. eds. Philosophy Comes to Dinner ch. 4. Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nefsky J. 2011. Consequentialism and the Problem of Collective Harm: A Reply to Kagan. Philosophy & Public Affairs 39: 364-95.

  • Nefsky J. 2015. Fairness, Participation, and the Real Problem of Collective Harm. Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 5: 245-71.

  • Nefsky J. 2017. How You Can Help, Without Making a Difference. Philosophical Studies 174: 2743-67.

  • Nefsky J. 2018. Consumer Choice and Collective Impact. In Barnhill A. et al. eds. The Oxford Handbook of Food Ethics ch. 12. oup.

  • Otsuka M. 1991. The Paradox of Group Beneficence. Philosophy & Public Affairs 20: 132-49.

  • Parfit D. 1984. Reasons and Persons. oup.

  • Parfit D. 1986. Comments. Ethics 96: 832-72.

  • Singer P. 1975. Animal Liberation. HarperCollins.

  • Sinnott-Armstrong W. 2005. It’s Not My Fault: Global Warming and Individual Moral Obligations. Perspectives on Climate Change 5: 221-53.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 19 19 19
Full Text Views 7 7 7
PDF Downloads 4 4 4