Moral theory and global population

Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 99 (3):289–313 (1999)
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Abstract

Ascertaining the optimum global population raises not just substantive moral problems but also philosophical ones, too. In particular, serious problems arise for utilitarianism. For example, should one attempt to bring about the greatest total happiness or the highest level of average happiness? This article argues that neither approach on its own provides a satisfactory answer, and nor do rights-based or Rawlsian approaches, either. Instead, what is required is a multidimensional approach to moral questions—one which recognises the plurality of our values. Such an approach can be formalised by employing multidimensional indifference-curves. Moreover, whereas classical utilitarianism might be thought to enjoin us to bring about a larger global population, a multidimensional approach clearly suggests a significant reduction in human numbers.

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Citations of this work

Can We Harm Furture People?Alan Carter - 2001 - Environmental Values 10 (4):429-454.
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The Axiomatic Approach to Population Ethics.Charles Blackorby, Walter Bossert & David Donaldson - 2003 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 2 (3):342-381.

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References found in this work

Famine, affluence, and morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):229-243.
Overpopulation and the Quality of Life.Derek Parfit - 1986 - In Peter Singer (ed.), Applied Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 145-164.
Overpopulation and the quality of life.Derek Parfit - 2004 - In J. Ryberg & T. Tännsjö (eds.), The Repugnant Conclusion. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 7-22.

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