Romy Eskens


In “Other-Sacrificing Options” (2020), Benjamin Lange argues that, when distributing benefits and burdens, we may discount the interests of the people to whom we stand in morally negative relationships relative to the interests of other people. Lange’s case for negative partiality proceeds in two steps. First, he presents a hypothetical example that commonly elicits intuitions favourable to negative partiality. Second, he invokes symmetry considerations to reason from permissible positive partiality towards intimates to permissible negative partiality towards adversaries. In this paper, I argue that neither the intuition elicited by Lange’s example nor the invoked symmetry considerations support a permission for negative partiality. This does not mean that negative partiality is unjustified. It means only that the justification, if there is one, must take a different form. I end by suggesting an alternative justification of negative partiality, one that mirrors gratitude-based justifications of positive partiality rather than justifications based on intimacy. 


Discussion Notes