Special issue on intra- and interpersonal dilemmas in ethics and rational choice

The Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics invites submissions for a forthcoming special issue devoted to intra- and interpersonal dilemmas in ethics and rational choice

Invited Contributors:

  • Chrisoula Andreou (University of Utah)
  • Luke Elson (University of Reading)
  • Frank Hindriks (University of Groningen)
  • Sergio Tenenbaum (University of Toronto)


Over the past few decades, a problem has occupied both rational choice theorists and ethicists alike. The problem can be represented in the respective literatures by Warren Quinn’s (1997) ‘Puzzle of the Self-Torturer’ and Derek Parfit’s (1984) ‘Drops of Water/Harmless Torturers’ examples. In both cases, many acts lead to a significant moral or prudential outcome, yet each act is insignificant with respect to that outcome. Call these cases intra- and interpersonal dilemmas

Intra- and interpersonal dilemmas remain problematic. Furthermore, despite their startling similarities, the two cases are often treated in isolation. By bringing together work from varying fields—in both philosophy and economics—we hope to gain further insight and understanding into the problem.

We are particularly interested in work which lies at the intersection of the issue (e.g. Tuck, 1979; Jackson, 1987; Arntzenius and MaCarthy, 1997; Andreou, 2006, 2022; Tenembaum & Raffman, 2012; Soon, 2021). For example, on whether the structure of the two dilemmas is the same, such that one solution applies to the other. Or whether these dilemmas are distinct phenomena requiring different treatment. If so, what is the relation between them? And what does this imply for the opposing dilemma?

We also welcome work which addresses one of the dilemmas in its own right. For example, in rational choice, the problem of intransitive preferences, self-destructive behaviour, and synchronic/diachronic rationality. In ethics, the problem of instrumental vs. non-instrumental reasons for action, the distinction between threshold and non-threshold cases, or various issues surrounding causation and difference-making. Of course, these are just a few topics that contributors may wish to address and we invite submissions in a broad range of different areas.




Texts should be submitted by: 30th October, 2023.


Texts should be in the range of 4,000–8,000 words. We may consider shorter pieces (2,000-4,000) submitted as critical comments.


Submissions will go through the journal’s standard peer-review process. Please make a submission through the journal’s standard submission system. The special issue is scheduled for publication in the summer of 2024.


If you have questions, feel free to contact the editors at editors@ejpe.org.