One more axiological impossibility theorem

In Lars-Göran Johansson, Jan Österberg & Ryszard Sliwinski (eds.), Logic, Ethics and All That Jazz. Essays in Honour of Jordan Howard Sobel. Uppsala: Uppsala Philosophical Studies. pp. 23-37 (2009)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Population axiology concerns how to evaluate populations in regard to their goodness, that is, how to order populations by the relations “is better than” and “is as good as”. This field has been riddled with impossibility results which seem to show that our considered beliefs are inconsistent in cases where the number of people and their welfare varies.1 All of these results have one thing in common, however. They all involve an adequacy condition that rules out Derek Parfit’s Repugnant Conclusion: The Repugnant Conclusion: For any perfectly equal population with very high positive welfare, there is a population with very low positive welfare which is better, other things being equal.2 1 The informal Mere Addition Paradox in Parfit (1984), pp. 419ff is the locus classicus. For an informal proof of a similar result with stronger assumptions, see Ng (1989), p. 240. A formal proof with slightly stronger assumptions than Ng’s can be found in Blackorby and Donaldson (1991). For theorems with much weaker assumptions, see my (1999), (2000b), and especially (2000a), (2001), and (2009). 2 See Parfit (1984), p. 388. My formulation is more general than Parfit’s apart from that he doesn’t demand that the people with very high welfare are equally well off. Expressions such as “a population with very high positive welfare”, “a population with very low positive welfare”, etc., are elliptical for the more cumbersome phrases “a population consisting only of lives with..



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,252

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The paradoxes of future generations and normative theory.Gustaf Arrhenius - 2004 - In Torbjörn Tännsjö & Jesper Ryberg (eds.), The Repugnant Conclusion: Essays on Population Ethics. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 201-218.
The repugnant conclusion.Jesper Ryberg, Torbjörn Tännsjö & Gustaf Arrhenius - 2006 - The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Online; Last Accessed October 4:2006.
The repugnant conclusion.Jesper Ryberg - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
An impossibility theorem for welfarist axiologies.Gustaf Arrhenius - 2000 - Economics and Philosophy 16 (2):247-266.
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.
Egalitarianism and Population Change.Gustaf Arrhenius - 2009 - In Axel Gosseries & Lukas H. Meyer (eds.), Intergenerational Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 325-349.
The Very Repugnant Conclusion.Gustaf Arrhenius - 2003 - In Krister Segerberg & Ryszard Sliwinski (eds.), Logic, Law, Morality: Thirteen Essays in Practical Philosophy in Honour of Lennart Åqvist. Department of Philosophy, Uppsala University. pp. 29-44.


Added to PP

108 (#158,114)

6 months
14 (#157,976)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Gustaf Arrhenius
Stockholm University

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references