Imprecise lexical superiority and the (slightly less) Repugnant Conclusion

Philosophical Studies 176 (8):2103-2117 (2019)
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Recently, Derek Parfit has offered a novel solution to the “Repugnant Conclusion” that compared with the existence of many people whose quality of life would be very high, there is some much larger number of people whose existence would be better but whose lives would be barely worth living. On this solution, qualitative differences between two populations will often entail that the populations are merely “imprecisely” comparable. According to Parfit, this fact allows us to avoid the Repugnant Conclusion without violating the transitivity of better than. In this paper, I argue that Parfit’s view nevertheless implies two objectionable conclusions. The first is an alternative version of the Repugnant Conclusion that, Parfit suggests, may not be all that repugnant. The second is a revised version of the first that is nearly identical to the Repugnant Conclusion. I conclude that Parfit’s view offers no escape from repugnance.

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James Fanciullo
Lingnan University

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Thinking, Fast and Slow.Daniel Kahneman - 2011 - New York: New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
Well-being: its meaning, measurement, and moral importance.James Griffin - 1986 - Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Clarendon Press.
The possibility of parity.Ruth Chang - 2002 - Ethics 112 (4):659-688.

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