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  1. Overpopulation and the Quality of Life.Derek Parfit - 1986 - In Peter Singer (ed.), Applied Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 145-164.
    How many people should there be? Can there be overpopulation: too many people living? I shall present a puzzling argument about these questions, show how this argument can be strengthened, then sketch a possible reply.
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  • What Should We Do About Future Generations?Yew-Kwang Ng - 1989 - Economics and Philosophy 5 (2):235.
    Parfit's requirements for an ideal Theory X cannot be fully met since the Mere Addition Principle and Non-Antiegalitarianism imply the Repugnant Conclusion: Theory X does not exist. However, since the Repugnant Conclusion is really compelling, the Impersonal Total Principle should be adopted for impartial comparisons concerning future generations. Nevertheless, where our own interests are affected, we may yet choose to be partial, trading off our concern for future goodness with our self-interests. Theory X' meets all Parfit's requirements except the Mere (...)
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  • The impossibility of a satisfactory population prospect axiology (independently of Finite Fine-Grainedness).Elliott Thornley - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (11):3671-3695.
    Arrhenius’s impossibility theorems purport to demonstrate that no population axiology can satisfy each of a small number of intuitively compelling adequacy conditions. However, it has recently been pointed out that each theorem depends on a dubious assumption: Finite Fine-Grainedness. This assumption states that there exists a finite sequence of slight welfare differences between any two welfare levels. Denying Finite Fine-Grainedness makes room for a lexical population axiology which satisfies all of the compelling adequacy conditions in each theorem. Therefore, Arrhenius’s theorems (...)
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  • Some Possibilities in Population Axiology.Teruji Thomas - 2018 - Mind 127 (507):807-832.
    It is notoriously difficult to find an intuitively satisfactory rule for evaluating populations based on the welfare of the people in them. Standard examples, like total utilitarianism, either entail the Repugnant Conclusion or in some other way contradict common intuitions about the relative value of populations. Several philosophers have presented formal arguments that seem to show that this happens of necessity: our core intuitions stand in contradiction. This paper assesses the state of play, focusing on the most powerful of these (...)
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  • Critical Levels, Critical Ranges, and Imprecise Exchange Rates in Population Axiology.Elliott Thornley - 2022 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 22 (3):382–414.
    According to Critical-Level Views in population axiology, an extra life improves a population only if that life’s welfare exceeds some fixed ‘critical level.’ An extra life at the critical level leaves the new population equally good as the original. According to Critical-Range Views, an extra life improves a population only if that life’s welfare exceeds some fixed ‘critical range.’ An extra life within the critical range leaves the new population incommensurable with the original. -/- In this paper, I sharpen some (...)
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  • Are Spectrum Arguments Defused by Vagueness?Teruji Thomas - 2022 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 100 (4):743-757.
    ABSTRACT I consider paradoxical spectrum arguments involving transitive relations like ‘better than’. I argue that, despite being formally different from sorites arguments, at least some spectrum arguments arise from vagueness, and that vagueness might often be the most natural diagnosis.
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  • VII*—Value Incommensurability: Some Preliminaries.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 86 (1):117-134.
    Joseph Raz; VII*—Value Incommensurability: Some Preliminaries, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Volume 86, Issue 1, 1 June 1986, Pages 117–134, https://.
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  • Value relations.Wlodek Rabinowicz - 2008 - Theoria 74 (1):18-49.
    Abstract: The paper provides a general account of value relations. It takes its departure in a special type of value relation, parity, which according to Ruth Chang is a form of evaluative comparability that differs from the three standard forms of comparability: betterness, worseness and equal goodness. Recently, Joshua Gert has suggested that the notion of parity can be accounted for if value comparisons are interpreted as normative assessments of preference. While Gert's basic idea is attractive, the way he develops (...)
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  • Value relations revisited.Wlodek Rabinowicz - 2012 - Economics and Philosophy 28 (2):133-164.
    In Rabinowicz, I considered how value relations can best be analysed in terms of fitting pro-attitudes. In the formal model of that paper, fitting pro-attitudes are represented by the class of permissible preference orderings on a domain of items that are being compared. As it turns out, this approach opens up for a multiplicity of different types of value relationships, along with the standard relations of ‘better’, ‘worse’, ‘equally as good as’ and ‘incomparable in value’. Unfortunately, the approach is vulnerable (...)
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  • The Value of Existence.Wlodek Rabinowicz & Gustaf Arrhenius - 2015 - In Iwao Hirose & Jonas Olson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Value Theory. Oxford University Press USA. pp. 424-444.
    Can it be better or worse for a person to exist than not to exist at all? This old and challenging existential question has been raised anew in contemporary moral philosophy, mainly for two reasons. First, traditional “impersonal” ethical theories, such as utilitarianism, have counterintuitive implications in population ethics, for example, the repugnant conclusion. Second, it has seemed evident to many that an outcome can be better than another only if it is better for someone, and that only moral theories (...)
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  • Broome and the intuition of neutrality.Wlodek Rabinowicz - 2009 - Philosophical Issues 19 (1):389-411.
    In “Weighing Lives” (2004) John Broome criticizes a view common to many population axiologists. On that view, population increases with extra people leading decent lives are axiologically neutral: they make the world neither better nor worse, ceteris paribus. Broome argues that this intuition, however, attractive, cannot be sustained, for several independent reasons. I respond to his criticisms and suggest that the neutrality intuition, if correctly interpreted, can after all be defended.On the version I defend,the world with added extra people at (...)
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  • The mere addition paradox, parity and vagueness.Mozaffar Qizilbash - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (1):129–151.
    Derek Parfit’s mere addition paradox has generated a large literature. This paper articulates one response to this paradox - which Parfit hirnself suggested - in terms of a formal account of the relation of parity. I term this response the ‘parity view’. It is consistent with transitivity of ‘at least as good as’, but implies incompleteness of this relation. The parity view is compatible with critical-band utilitarianism if this is adjusted to allow for vagueness. John Broome argues against accounts which (...)
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  • The Mere Addition Paradox, Parity and Vagueness.Mozaffar Qizilbash - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (1):129-151.
    Derek Parfit’s mere addition paradox has generated a large literature. This paper articulates one response to this paradox—which Parfit himself suggested—in terms of a formal account of the relation of parity. I term this response the ‘parity view’. It is consistent with transitivity of ‘at least as good as’, but implies incompleteness of this relation. The parity view is compatible with critical‐band utilitarianism if this is adjusted to allow for vagueness. John Broome argues against accounts which involve incompleteness. He thinks (...)
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  • Transitivity and vagueness.Mozaffar Qizilbash - 2005 - Economics and Philosophy 21 (1):109-131.
    Axiomatic utility theory plays a foundational role in some accounts of normative principles. In this context, it is sometimes argued that transitivity of “better than” is a logical truth. Larry Temkin and Stuart Rachels use various examples to argue that “better than” is non–transitive, and that transitivity is not a logical truth. These examples typically involve some sort of “discontinuity.” In his discussion of one of these examples, John Broome suggests that we should reject the claim which involves “discontinuity.” We (...)
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  • Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
    Challenging, with several powerful arguments, some of our deepest beliefs about rationality, morality, and personal identity, Parfit claims that we have a false view about our own nature. It is often rational to act against our own best interersts, he argues, and most of us have moral views that are self-defeating. We often act wrongly, although we know there will be no one with serious grounds for complaint, and when we consider future generations it is very hard to avoid conclusions (...)
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  • Can We Avoid the Repugnant Conclusion?Derek Parfit - 2016 - Theoria 82 (2):110-127.
    According to the Repugnant Conclusion: Compared with the existence of many people who would all have some very high quality of life, there is some much larger number of people whose existence would be better, even though these people would all have lives that were barely worth living. I suggest some ways in which we might be able to avoid this conclusion. I try to defend a strong form of lexical superiority.
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  • Higher Goods and the Myth of Tithonus.Noah M. Lemos - 1993 - Journal of Philosophy 90 (9):482-496.
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  • Many-valued logic and sequence arguments in value theory.Simon Knutsson - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):10793-10825.
    Some find it plausible that a sufficiently long duration of torture is worse than any duration of mild headaches. Similarly, it has been claimed that a million humans living great lives is better than any number of worm-like creatures feeling a few seconds of pleasure each. Some have related bad things to good things along the same lines. For example, one may hold that a future in which a sufficient number of beings experience a lifetime of torture is bad, regardless (...)
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  • Trading Quality for Quantity.Christopher Knapp - 2007 - Journal of Philosophical Research 32 (1):211–33.
    This paper deals with problems that vagueness raises for choices involving evaluative tradeoffs. I focus on a species of such choices, which I call ‘qualitative barrier cases.’ These are cases in which a qualitatively significant tradeoff in one evaluative dimension for a given improvement in another dimension could not make an option better all things considered, but a merely quantitative tradeoff for the given improvement might. Trouble arises, however, when one of the options constitutes a borderline case of an evaluative (...)
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  • Trading Quality for Quantity.Christopher Knapp - 2007 - Journal of Philosophical Research 32:211-233.
    This paper deals with problems that vagueness raises for choices involving evaluative tradeoffs. I focus on a species of such choices, which I call ‘qualitative barrier cases.’ These are cases in which a qualitatively significant tradeoff in one evaluative dimension for a given improvement in another dimension could not make an option better all things considered, but a merely quantitative tradeoff for the given improvement might. Trouble arises, however, when one of the options constitutes a borderline case of an evaluative (...)
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  • Parfit’s Puzzle.Philip Kitcher - 2000 - Noûs 34 (4):550–577.
    In the brilliant final section of Reasons and Persons , Derek Parfit presents a puzzle about how the goodness of states of affairs relates to the quality of the lives led by people in those states. Stripped to barest essentials, the puzzle runs as follows: if the value of a state is obtained simply by aggregating the quantity of whatever makes life worth living, then a world in which a significant number of people (say ten billion) enjoy lives of very (...)
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  • Weak Superiority, Imprecise Equality and the Repugnant Conclusion.Karsten Klint Jensen - 2020 - Utilitas 32 (3):294-315.
    Derek Parfit defends the Imprecise Lexical View as a way to avoid the Repugnant Conclusion. Allowing for ‘imprecise equality’, Parfit argues, makes it possible to avoid some well-known problems for the Lexical View. It is demonstrated that the Lexical View has stronger implications than envisaged by Parfit; moreover, his assumption of Non-diminishing Marginal Value makes the Lexical View collapse into a much stronger view, which lets the two appear incompatible. Introducing imprecise equality does not address the latter problem. But it (...)
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  • Millian superiorities and the repugnant conclusion.Karsten Klint Jensen - 2008 - Utilitas 20 (3):279-300.
    James Griffin has considered a form of superiority in value that is weaker than lexical priority as a possible remedy to the Repugnant Conclusion. In this article, I demonstrate that, in a context where value is additive, this weaker form collapses into the stronger form of superiority. And in a context where value is non-additive, weak superiority does not amount to a radical value difference at all. These results are applied on one of Larry Temkin's cases against transitivity. I demonstrate (...)
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  • Value and population size.Thomas Hurka - 1982 - Ethics 93 (3):496-507.
    Just because an angel is better than a stone, it does not follow that two angels are better than one angel and one stone. So said Aquinas (Summa contra Gentiles III, 71), and the sentiment was echoed by Leibniz. In section 118 of the Theodicy he wrote: "No substance is either absolutely precious or absolutely contemptible in the sight of God. It is certain that God attaches more importance to a man than to a lion, but I do not know (...)
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  • Incommensurability and vagueness in spectrum arguments: options for saving transitivity of betterness.Toby Handfield & Wlodek Rabinowicz - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (9):2373-2387.
    The spectrum argument purports to show that the better-than relation is not transitive, and consequently that orthodox value theory is built on dubious foundations. The argument works by constructing a sequence of increasingly less painful but more drawn-out experiences, such that each experience in the spectrum is worse than the previous one, yet the final experience is better than the experience with which the spectrum began. Hence the betterness relation admits cycles, threatening either transitivity or asymmetry of the relation. This (...)
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  • Population Axiology and the Possibility of a Fourth Category of Absolute Value.Johan E. Gustafsson - 2020 - Economics and Philosophy 36 (1):81-110.
    Critical-Range Utilitarianism is a variant of Total Utilitarianism which can avoid both the Repugnant Conclusion and the Sadistic Conclusion in population ethics. Yet Standard Critical-Range Utilitarianism entails the Weak Sadistic Conclusion, that is, it entails that each population consisting of lives at a bad well-being level is not worse than some population consisting of lives at a good well-being level. In this paper, I defend a version of Critical-Range Utilitarianism which does not entail the Weak Sadistic Conclusion. This is made (...)
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  • Well-being: its meaning, measurement, and moral importance.James Griffin - 1986 - Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Clarendon Press.
    "Well-being," "welfare," "utility," and "quality of life," all closely related concepts, are at the center of morality, politics, law, and economics. Griffin's book, while primarily a volume of moral philosophy, is relevant to all of these subjects. Griffin offers answers to three central questions about well-being: what is the best way to understand it, can it be measured, and where should it fit in moral and political thought. With its breadth of investigation and depth of insight, this work holds significance (...)
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  • On the survival of humanity.Johann Frick - 2017 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (2-3):344-367.
    What moral reasons, if any, do we have to ensure the long-term survival of humanity? This article contrastively explores two answers to this question: according to the first, we should ensure the survival of humanity because we have reason to maximize the number of happy lives that are ever lived, all else equal. According to the second, seeking to sustain humanity into the future is the appropriate response to the final value of humanity itself. Along the way, the article discusses (...)
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  • Mere Addition and Two Trilemmas of Population Ethics.Erik Carlson - 1998 - Economics and Philosophy 14 (2):283.
    A principal aim of the branch of ethics called ‘population theory’ or ‘population ethics’ is to find a plausible welfarist axiology, capable of comparing total outcomes with respect to value. This has proved an exceedingly difficult task. In this paper I shall state and discuss two ‘trilemmas’, or choices between three unappealing alternatives, which the population ethicist must face. The first trilemma is not new. It originates with Derek Parfit's well-known ‘Mere Addition Paradox’, and was first explicitly stated by Yew-Kwang (...)
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  • The Good and the True.Ronald B. De Sousa - 1974 - Mind 83:534.
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  • The possibility of parity.Ruth Chang - 2002 - Ethics 112 (4):659-688.
    This paper argues for the existence of a fourth positive generic value relation that can hold between two items beyond ‘better than’, ‘worse than’, and ‘equally good’: namely ‘on a par’.
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  • Parity, Imprecise Comparability, and the Repugnant Conclusion.Ruth Chang - 2016 - Theoria 82 (2):183-215.
    This article explores the main similarities and differences between Derek Parfit’s notion of imprecise comparability and a related notion I have proposed of parity. I argue that the main difference between imprecise comparability and parity can be understood by reference to ‘the standard view’. The standard view claims that 1) differences between cardinally ranked items can always be measured by a scale of units of the relevant value, and 2) all rankings proceed in terms of the trichotomy of ‘better than’, (...)
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  • Parity, interval value, and choice.Ruth Chang - 2005 - Ethics 115 (2):331-350.
    This paper begins with a response to Josh Gert’s challenge that ‘on a par with’ is not a sui generis fourth value relation beyond ‘better than’, ‘worse than’, and ‘equally good’. It then explores two further questions: can parity be modeled by an interval representation of value? And what should one rationally do when faced with items on a par? I argue that an interval representation of value is incompatible with the possibility that items are on a par (a mathematical (...)
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  • The good, the bad, and the ethically neutral.Krister Bykvist - 2007 - Economics and Philosophy 23 (1):97-105.
    John Broome's Weighing Lives provides a much-needed framework for the intriguing problems of population ethics. It is also an impressive attempt to find a workable solution to these problems. I am not sure that Broome has found the right solution, but I think he has done the ethics profession a tremendous service in tidying up the discussion. The framework he presents will make it possible for the participants in this debate to formulate their positions in a clear and precise manner. (...)
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  • Weighing lives.John Broome - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
    We are often faced with choices that involve the weighing of people's lives against each other, or the weighing of lives against other good things. These are choices both for individuals and for societies. A person who is terminally ill may have to choose between palliative care and more aggressive treatment, which will give her a longer life but at some cost in suffering. We have to choose between the convenience to ourselves of road and air travel, and the lives (...)
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  • Value Superiority.Gustaf Arrhenius & Wlodek Rabinowicz - 2015 - In Iwao Hirose & Jonas Olson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Value Theory. New York, USA: Oxford University Press USA. pp. 225-248.
    Suppose that A and B are two kinds of goods such that more of each is better than less. A is strongly superior to B if any amount of A is better than any amount of B. It is weakly superior to B if some amount of A is better than any amount of B. There are many examples of these relations in the literature, sometimes under the labels “higher goods” and “discontinuity.” The chapter gives a precise and generalized statement (...)
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  • Population Ethics and Different‐Number‐Based Imprecision.Gustaf Arrhenius - 2016 - Theoria 82 (2):166-181.
    Recently, in his Rolf Schock Prize Lecture, Derek Parfit has suggested a novel way of avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion by introducing what he calls “imprecision” in value comparisons. He suggests that in a range of important cases, populations of different sizes are only imprecisely comparable. Parfit suggests that this feature of value comparisons opens up a way of avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion without implying other counterintuitive conclusions, and thus solves one of the major challenges in ethics. In this article, I (...)
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  • Population Ethics and Different-Number-Based Imprecision.Gustaf Arrhenius - 2016 - Theoria 82 (2):166-181.
    Recently, in his Rolf Schock Prize Lecture, Derek Parfit has suggested a novel way of avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion by introducing what he calls “imprecision” in value comparisons. He suggests that in a range of important cases, populations of different sizes are only imprecisely comparable. Parfit suggests that this feature of value comparisons opens up a way of avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion without implying other counterintuitive conclusions, and thus solves one of the major challenges in ethics. In this article, I (...)
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  • Millian superiorities.Gustaf Arrhenius & Wlodek Rabinowicz - 2005 - Utilitas 17 (2):127-146.
    Suppose one sets up a sequence of less and less valuable objects such that each object in the sequence is only marginally worse than its immediate predecessor. Could one in this way arrive at something that is dramatically inferior to the point of departure? It has been claimed that if there is a radical value difference between the objects at each end of the sequence, then at some point there must be a corresponding radical difference between the adjacent elements. The (...)
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  • Millian superiorities.Gustaf Arrenhuis & Wlodek Rabinowicz - 2005 - Utilitas 17 (2):127-146.
    Suppose one sets up a sequence of less and less valuable objects such that each object in the sequence is only marginally worse than its immediate predecessor. Could one in this way arrive at something that is dramatically inferior to the point of departure? It has been claimed that if there is a radical value difference between the objects at each end of the sequence, then at some point there must be a corresponding radical difference between the adjacent elements. The (...)
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  • Rethinking the Good: Moral Ideals and the Nature of Practical Reasoning.Larry S. Temkin - 2012 - , US: Oxford University Press.
    Temkin's book is a very original and deeply unsettling work of skeptical philosophy that mounts an important new challenge to contemporary ethics.
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  • Vagueness and Thought.Andrew Bacon - 2018 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
    Vagueness is the study of concepts that admit borderline cases. The epistemology of vagueness concerns attitudes we should have towards propositions we know to be borderline. On this basis Andrew Bacon develops a new theory of vagueness in which vagueness is fundamentally a property of propositions, explicated in terms of its role in thought.
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  • Population Issues in Social Choice Theory, Welfare Economics, and Ethics.Charles Blackorby, Walter Bossert & David J. Donaldson - 2005 - Cambridge University Press.
    This book presents an exploration of the idea of the common or social good, extended so that alternatives with different populations can be ranked. The approach is, in the main, welfarist, basing rankings on the well-being, broadly conceived, of those who are alive. The axiomatic method is employed, and topics investigated include: the measurement of individual well-being, social attitudes toward inequality of well-being, the main classes of population principles, principles that provide incomplete rankings, principles that rank uncertain alternatives, best choices (...)
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  • Rethinking the Good: Moral Ideals and the Nature of Practical Reasoning.Larry S. Temkin - 2011 - , US: Oxford University Press USA.
    In choosing between moral alternatives -- choosing between various forms of ethical action -- we typically make calculations of the following kind: A is better than B; B is better than C; therefore A is better than C. These inferences use the principle of transitivity and are fundamental to many forms of practical and theoretical theorizing, not just in moral and ethical theory but in economics. Indeed they are so common as to be almost invisible. What Larry Temkin's book shows (...)
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  • Infinite Ethics.Nick Bostrom - 2011 - Analysis and Metaphysics 10:9–59.
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  • Totalism without Repugnance.Jacob M. Nebel - 2022 - In Jeff McMahan, Tim Campbell, James Goodrich & Ketan Ramakrishnan (eds.), Ethics and Existence: The Legacy of Derek Parfit. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 200-231.
    Totalism is the view that one distribution of well-being is better than another just in case the one contains a greater sum of well-being than the other. Many philosophers, following Parfit, reject totalism on the grounds that it entails the repugnant conclusion: that, for any number of excellent lives, there is some number of lives that are barely worth living whose existence would be better. This paper develops a theory of welfare aggregation—the lexical-threshold view—that allows totalism to avoid the repugnant (...)
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  • Anonymous welfarism, critical-level principles, and the repugnant and sadistic conclusions.Walter Bossert - 2022 - In Gustaf Arrhenius, Krister Bykvist, Tim Campbell & Elizabeth Finneron-Burns (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Population Ethics. Oxford University Press.
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  • Repugnance or Intransitivity: A Repugnant But Forced Choice.Stuart Rachels - 2004 - In Jesper Ryberg Torbjorn Tannsjo (ed.), The Repugnant Conclusion: Essays on Population Ethics. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 163--86.
    A set of arguments shows that either the Repugnant Conclusion and its variants are true or the better-than relation isn't transitive. Which is it? This is the most important question in population ethics. The answer will point the way to Parfit's elusive Theory X.
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  • Separability in Population Ethics.Teruji Thomas - 2022 - In Gustaf Arrhenius, Krister Bykvist, Tim Campbell & Elizabeth Finneron-Burns (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Population Ethics. Oxford University Press. pp. 271-295.
    Separability is roughly the principle that, in comparing the value of two outcomes, one can ignore any people whose existence and welfare are unaffected. Separability is both antecedently plausible, at least as a principle of beneficence, and surprisingly powerful; it is the key to some of the best positive arguments in population ethics. This chapter surveys the motivations for and consequences of separability. In particular, it presents an ‘additivity theorem’ which explains how separability leads to total utilitarianism and closely related (...)
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  • Can Parfit’s Appeal to Incommensurabilities Block the Continuum Argument for the Repugnant Conclusion?Wlodek Rabinowicz - 2019 - In Paul Bowman & Katharina Berndt Rasmussen (eds.), Studies on Climate Ethics and Future Generations, Vol. 1. Institute for Futures Studies.
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