Elliott Thornley
Oxford University
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 old objections to these views and offer some new ones. Critical-Level Views cannot avoid certain Repugnant and Sadistic Conclusions. Critical-Range Views imply that lives featuring no good or bad components whatsoever can nevertheless swallow up and neutralise goodness or badness. Both classes of view entail that certain small changes in welfare correspond to worryingly large differences in contributive value. I then offer a view that retains much of the appeal of Critical-Level and Critical-Range Views while avoiding the above pitfalls. On the Imprecise Exchange Rates View, the quantity of some good required to outweigh a given unit of some bad is imprecise. This imprecision is the source of incommensurability between lives and populations.
Keywords population axiology  neutral level view  neutral range view  critical level view  critical range view  imprecise exchange rates view  incommensurability
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Philosophy 63 (243):119-122.
Weighing Lives.John Broome - 2004 - Oxford University Press.

View all 37 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Moral Uncertainty About Population Axiology.Hilary Greaves & Toby Ord - 2017 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 12 (2):135-167.
Broome and the Intuition of Neutrality.Wlodek Rabinowicz - 2009 - Philosophical Issues 19 (1):389-411.
Moral Uncertainty About Population Ethics.Hilary Greaves & Toby Ord - forthcoming - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy.
Agent-Neutral Deontology.Tom Dougherty - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (2):527-537.
The Welfare Economics of Population.John Broome - 1985 - Social Choice and Welfare 2:221-34.
Voluntary Consent: Why a Value-Neutral Concept Won't Work.A. Wertheimer - 2012 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 37 (3):226-254.
Neutralism.Anya Plutynski - 2004 - In Christopher Stephens & Mohan Matthen (eds.), Elsevier Handbook in Philosophy of Biology. Elsevier.
Incommensurability in Population Ethics.Jacob Nebel - 2015 - Dissertation, University of Oxford
The Complicated Relationship of Disability and Well-Being.Stephen M. Campbell & Joseph A. Stramondo - 2017 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 27 (2):151-184.
Agent-Relative Reasons as Second-Order Value Responses.Jörg Löschke - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (4):477-491.


Added to PP index

Total views
113 ( #102,181 of 2,498,540 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
45 ( #18,858 of 2,498,540 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes