Chapter

Aggregation and Problems about Trade-offs within Lives

Larry S. Temkin

in Rethinking the Good

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199759446
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932214 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199759446.003.0005

Series: Oxford Ethics Series

Aggregation and Problems about Trade-offs within Lives

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Chapter 4 argued that we should reject Sidgwick's conception of individual self-interest because it assumes a simple additive-aggregationist approach for assessing the overall value of a life. Specifically, it was argued that in some cases anti-additive aggregationist principles are applicable within lives, as well as between lives, including analogues of Chapter 2's Second Standard View and Chapter 3's Disperse Additional Burdens View. However, as should be evident, like the anti-additive aggregationist principles of Chapters 2 and 3, Chapter 4's analogues of those principles are incomplete. They are only applicable to, and generate rankings for, certain cases. In other cases, they are silent, and we must rely on other principles to rank alternative lives. However, often the principles that are appropriate for ranking alternative lives generate judgments that are incompatible with the judgments generated by the anti-additive-aggregationist principles, if “all-things-considered better than” (in this book's wide reason-implying sense) is a transitive relation. This chapter shows that, as with rankings involving different lives, the relevance of different principles for ranking individual lives raises deep problems about aggregation and trade-offs within lives.

Keywords: aggregation; all-things-considered better than; ranking; individual lives; trade-offs

Chapter.  18525 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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