Mere Addition and the Separateness of Persons

Journal of Philosophy 112 (8):442-455 (2015)
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How can we resist the repugnant conclusion? James Griffin has plausibly suggested that part way through the sequence we may reach a world—let us call it “J”—in which the lives are lexically superior to those that follow. If it would be preferable to live a single life in J than through any number of lives in the next one, then it would be strange to judge K the better world. Instead, we may reasonably “suspend addition” and judge J superior, as if aggregating the lives in the larger world intrapersonally. I argue that the addition of new people with separate preferences renders this inference illicit when comparing J+ and K. When one pairwise comparison suspends addition and the other does not, the result is an intransitive value judgement: J < J+ < K < J, producing the mere addition paradox



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Matthew Rendall
University of Nottingham

Citations of this work

Resources and the acceptability of the Repugnant Conclusion.Stephen J. Schmidt - forthcoming - Theoria. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science.

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References found in this work

Overpopulation and the Quality of Life.Derek Parfit - 1986 - In Peter Singer (ed.), Applied Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 145-164.
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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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