Aggregation and Problems about Trade-offs

Larry S. Temkin

in Rethinking the Good

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199759446
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932214 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Ethics Series

Aggregation and Problems about Trade-offs

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This chapter begins by presenting a general schema of aggregation. It then presents several Standard Views about trade-offs between quality and number, focusing on cases where the trade-offs involve different individuals. The aim is neither to attack nor to defend these views. Instead, it seeks to articulate them and then raise questions about their consistency and implications. It shows that the First and Second Standard Views are seemingly inconsistent with the transitivity of “better than.” At least, this is so given the plausible assumption that there is, or at least could be, a spectrum of benefits, ranging from very high quality benefits to very low quality benefits, such that the First Standard View would be relevant for comparing outcomes involving benefits that were “near” each other on the spectrum, and the Second Standard View would be relevant for comparing outcomes involving benefits that were “far apart” on the spectrum. Thus, we are faced with a dilemma. We must either show that there couldn't be a spectrum of benefits that stand together in the relation suggested, or we must give up the First Standard View, the Second Standard View, or the transitivity of “better than”.

Keywords: aggregation; Standard Views; trade-offs; better than

Chapter.  23994 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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