On the Repugnance of the Repugnant Conclusion

Theoria 72 (2):126-137 (2006)
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The aim of this paper is to discuss the plausibility of a certain position in the philosophical literature within which the Repugnant Conclusion is treated, not as repugnant, but as an acceptable implication of the total welfare principle. I will confine myself to focus primarily on Törbjörn Tännsjö’s presentation. First, I reconstruct Tännsjö’s view concerning the repugnance of the RC in two arguments. The first argument is criticized for (a) addressing the wrong comparison, (b) relying on the controversial claim that the privileged people in our actual world only have lives barely worth living and (c) that Tännsjö’s identification between Z-lives and privileged lives is restricted to certain versions of the notion ‘barely worth living’ – a restriction that weakens the force of the argument. The second argument is criticized because some of it premises entailed (b) and (d) for its implausible claim that non-imaginable outcomes cannot be compared.
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