Aggregation in an infinite, relativistic universe.

Erkenntnis:1-29 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Aggregative moral theories face a series of devastating problems when we apply them in a physically realistic setting. According to current physics, our universe is likely _infinitely large_, and will contain infinitely many morally valuable events. But standard aggregative theories are ill-equipped to compare outcomes containing infinite total value so, applied in a realistic setting, they cannot compare any outcomes a real-world agent must ever choose between. This problem has been discussed extensively, and non-standard aggregative theories proposed to overcome it. This paper addresses a further problem of similar severity. Physics tells us that, in our universe, how remotely in time an event occurs is _relative_. But our most promising aggregative theories, designed to compare outcomes containing infinitely many valuable events, are sensitive to how remote in time those events are. As I show, the evaluations of those theories are then relative too. But this is absurd; evaluations of outcomes must be absolute. So we must reject such theories. Is this objection fatal for all aggregative theories, at least in a relativistic universe like ours? I demonstrate here that, by further modifying these theories to fit with the physics, we can overcome it.

Author's Profile

Hayden Wilkinson
Oxford University

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