Population Ethics

Nils Holtug

in Persons, Interests, and Justice

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199580170
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722707 | DOI:
Population Ethics

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In this chapter, the implications of prioritarianism for population ethics are considered. The claim, defended in Chapter 5, that it can benefit (or harm) an individual to come into existence may seem to suggest that the existence of extra individuals may contribute to outcome value. However, if we allow prioritarianism to apply to possible future individuals it implies the Repugnant Conclusion, the Negative Repugnant Conclusion and even the ‘Super‐repugnant Conclusion’. Therefore, various ways in which prioritarians may attempt to avoid these conclusions are discussed, including non‐additive functions, restricting the scope of prioritarianism to various modal classes of individuals, and opting for pluralism. However, it is argued that none of these ‘solutions’ works. Finally, what seem to be the three main options are listed, including that of simply embracing these ‘repugnant conclusions’, and it is explained how each is compatible with prioritarianism.

Keywords: population ethics; person‐affecting principles; repugnant conclusions; actual people; necessary people; pluralism; intuitions

Chapter.  17526 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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