Repugnant Conclusion Essay Sample

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Introduction

The Repugnant Conclusion concerns an apparent problem that arises due to a feature of totalistic theories. Suppose we compare the following two outcomes to a major policy decision. We could either bring about a world with 10 billion tremendously happy people leading fulfilling and worthwhile lives, or we could bring about a world that contained many billions of people leading miserable lives at a very low level of utility. These lives are just barely worth living. If this second world (Z) had enough people in it, it would have to be better that the first world (A). Parfit has called this claim “repugnant.” Our intuitions do not support the conclusion that the highly populated world is better than the high average world. Clearly there is something amiss with the fundamental notion with which we began.

There are many responses to the Repugnant Conclusion in the literature, and against most of these I will argue that the Repugnant Conclusion is an objection to totalistic theories of value. It is not a question of what one ought to do. The claim is simple: the Z world would be better than the A world. This comparison is repugnant -it is unacceptable. It follows that we must reject totalistic theories of value that imply that Z is better than A. I will show how these objections confuse axiology and normative ethics.

Many philosophers interested in moral theory and populations turn to the Repugnant Conclusion as the starting point of their discussions about populations and ethics. In this paper I will first present the objection known as the Repugnant Conclusion, and then I will present and evaluate four responses to the problem that assert that there is in fact nothing repugnant about the conclusion. The positions I will consider are the most plausible of a wide variety of views that try to prove that the Repugnant Conclusion is not so bad after all, and need not be avoided. If these views are right, we should not let the Repugnant Conclusion keep us from accepting totalism.

Repugnant Conclusion

Perhaps the basic problem is that any loss in the average quality of life or well-being of members of a population in a given world can always be morally outweighed by a sufficient number of people existing at a new lower standard. To be assured that this is true, we need only substitute a few numbers and check the math involved. Suppose the average of a high quality world is 100 units. We can imagine a different world in which the average utility level is 2 units. For totalists, the break-even point occurs where the low-level world contains 50 times the population of the high average world. At this point, totalistic axiologies imply that the two worlds are equally valuable. Any more people than that, and the low average would be better, any fewer people and it would be worse. This is the objection known as the Repugnant Conclusion.

One view about value is that the best outcome is the one that maximizes the net sum of utility, or whatever it is that makes life worth living. To hedonists, an outcome that maximizes utility is the outcome that has the greatest balance of pleasure over pain. This approach can be used for any commodity on which a theory places value – pleasure, preference satisfaction, welfare, quality of life, or what have you. A hedonistic version of this view is the Impersonal Total Principle (ITP).

ITP: If other things are equal, the best outcome is the one in which there would be the greatest quantity of happiness – the greatest net sum of happiness minus misery.[1]

Much of the discussion of the Repugnant Conclusion is obscured by a confusion between axiology and normative ethics. I intend to keep the two fields separate. Results established in one field may or may not establish results in the other. Consequentialism and utilitarianism are families of views in normative ethics. Normative ethical theories indicate what our moral obligations are. They state what makes a right act right. Utilitarians believe that acts have utilities. These theories usually define “lightness” by appealing to the utility that would be produced if an act were done.

Any alternative leads to a particular state of affairs, or outcome. There is some value associated with any state of affairs. Axiologies are theories of value, that, when fully explained, tell us what it is in an outcome that has value, and how one determines the value of an outcome. As the principle stands, ITP is a principle about the value of an outcome. Thus, it is an axiological view. In this essay, I will be speaking in terms more general than ITP. I shall understand “totalism” to be the following axiological view.

Totalism: (1) For any outcome A, the value of A, V(A), is the sum of the value(s) of all the episodes of whatever makes life worth living that occur on A, plus the sum of the value(s) of all the episodes of whatever makes life worth ending that occur on A. (2) For any two outcomes A and B, A is better than B if V(A)>V(B). (3) For any group of outcomes A, B,… N, A is a best outcome iff there is no outcome X such that V(X)>V(A).[2]

Totalism is a view in axiology. I use “whatever makes life worth living” as a general phrase referring to the situations or states of affairs in which an axiology finds positive value. The good stuff, whatever it may be. Examples include episodes of pleasure, preference satisfaction, and happiness. “Whatever makes life worth ending” refers to the bad stuff- episodes of pain, preference dissatisfaction, misery, etc. The values of the episodes of the bad stuff will all be negative.

For most theorists, the value of an outcome could equivalently be found by adding together the net values of the lives that would be lived on that outcome. For each person, we could sum the values of the episodes of happiness the person would experience during a lifetime and add the values of all the episodes of misery. As this version of totalism is worded, this need not be true. It could turn out that there is a value associated with the well-being of individual animals, species, plants and ecosystems.[3] We need not take a stand on this to bring out the severity of the Repugnant Conclusion. (2) asserts that one outcome is better than another just in case the total value of the first is greater than the total value of the second. (3) states that one outcome is a best in a group if there is no better outcome available. The intuition behind totalism is this: whatever it is that has value, the more of it, the better.

For a complete moral theory, one would naturally combine this view with the idea that an act is right if and only if that act is a best alternative among those open to the agent. The value of the alternative is the utility that is produced by the act. One is obligated to do an act that brings about a best outcome. This is a totalistic moral theory, or totalistic utilitarianism. It could be formulated as TU.

TU: Act X is right for agent A to do if and only if X produces at least as much net utility as any alternative open to A as X does.

TU identifies a right act as an alternative that maximizes net utility. The fact that different populations come to exist following a choice is not a problem. Suppose we have a choice between A, B, and C. It would be no objection to choice A that on that choice, the B-people would not exist. The objection to A would have to be that it didn’t maximize utility, but one of the alternatives would have.

One of the most serious of the recent criticisms of totalistic consequentalism is what Derek Parfit calls “the Repugnant Conclusion.” He appeals to a population-welfare histogram to illustrate his discussion. Populations are diagramed using rectangles (see Figure 1). Distance on the x-axis indicates the size of a population, distance on the y-axis indicates the value of the life that the average person would receive in the population. Within each population, no one is greatly better or worse off than anyone else; the quality of life remains steady over some period of time.[4] We are to imagine further that there is no social nor natural inequality. Population A has relatively few people at a high level of utility. Population B is a population twice the size of A’s, and though the quality of life is lower in B, the value of each life is more than half what it is in A.[5]

Figure 7. The Repugnant Conclusion

One should not look at this diagram and imagine “where would I rather live?” Rather we should imagine that these are outcomes that follow from a choice we are to make that will affect population size. Suppose we could pursue policies that would change our current population into a population like that of A or B. The diagram represents the situation many generations in the future. No one currently alive would exist at that time, and A and B have no particular person in common. Which would be the better outcome? Totalism implies that B would be the better outcome. Totalists in general are obliged to prefer B. B contains twice the population of A, and the value of each life is more than half that of A, so the value of B must be greater than the value of A.

Totalists prefer B to A, but C holds the same relation to B as B does to A. Totalists must say that C would be better than B, D would be better than C, and so on. Z is the best. Z contains an enormous number of people whose lives have slightly more pleasure than pain. The life of a Z person is just barely worth living. Parfit claims that ITP implies the Repugnant Conclusion, which he defines in this way.

The Repugnant Conclusion: For any possible population of at least ten billion people, all with a very high quality of life, there must be some much larger imaginable population whose existence, if other things are equal, would be better, even though its members would have lives that are barely worth living.[6]

I agree with Parfit that this conclusion is unacceptable. The objectionable character of the Z case seems to lie in the drab and uniformly poor quality of life found in the lives of a huge number of people. The conclusion that Z is better than A he calls “intrinsically repugnant.” When we compare outcomes, we learn that a large, low quality outcome can be better than a smaller, high quality outcome. This is because totalism allows a difference in the average quality of life to be made up by an increase in the number of people living. This seems to be the feature of totalism that entails this result. We need only stipulate that the other moral features of any two outcomes remain the same. Then, it seems such a theory would imply the Repugnant Conclusion.

Some philosophers have been misled by the way Parfit discusses and develops the argument, or the stipulations he gives.[7] This is an avoidable mistake. It is not crucial in itself that B has twice the population of A, or that the value of each life in B is more than half that of A. TU does not imply that we ought to double the population rather than not do so, or that we are always in a position to reallocate resources and turn our A world into a Z world. As I see it, the Repugnant Conclusion is an objection to totalism, the theory of value. Totalisms imply that Z is better than A. For this to be the case, all that needs to be true is that the net value of Z must be greater than the net value of A. To see that, we needn’t double any quantity, or even consider C, D, and the other populations.[8]

We should also not be misled by the stipulation that 10 billion people exist in A, or that their quality of life is very high. Parfit selects these quantities and levels so that his alternatives are imaginable and not inconsistent with the laws of nature. One might wonder why the population often billion is stipulated in the Repugnant Conclusion. Parfit intends that this population corresponds to the “A” population of the diagram. Following the Repugnant Conclusion, Parfit distinguishes two kinds of impossibility, deep and technical. A situation is deeply impossible if it requires “a major change in the laws of nature, including the laws of human nature”.[9]

Sometimes whenthis happens one is unable to imagine such an example. Parfit believes that if an objection to a theory rests on a deep impossibility, then the obligation is no good. The example given is Nozick’s imaginary Utility Monster. Such a monster would gain far more than anyone would lose if we redistributed resources to the monster. A totalistic principle such as ITP suggests that “we all be sacrificed in the monster’s maul, in order to increase total utility.”[10] Parfit responds that we cannot imagine what such an entity would be like. “Nozick’s appeal to his Monster is therefore not a good objection to the Total Principle. We cannot test a moral principle by applying it to a case which we cannot even imagine.”[11] This example is a deep impossibility.[12]

An Easy Solution

Considered alone, the Repugnant Conclusion is easy to avoid. In the diagram used to present the argument, the height of each successive rectangle is diminishing. Totalism entails that the outcomes improve as the height gets lower. One way to avoid the Repugnant Conclusion is to deny this. We could claim that all the comparisons between populations are incorrect. C is not better than B, B is not better than A, and A is better than Z. An axiological view that implies this is averagism. If the value of an outcome is determined by the average value of the lives of those who exist in that outcome, then we would judge that B is worse than A. On this view it is irrelevant that there are many more people in B than in A.

I intend to refer to this axiological view as averagism.

Averagism: (1) For any outcome O, the value of 0, A(0), is the average value of the lives lived on that outcome. A(0) is V(0) divided by the number of those who would exist if O were brought about. (2) For any two outcomes O and B, 0 is better than B iff A(0)>A(B). (3) For any group of outcomes A, B, … N, A is a best outcome iff there is no outcome X such that A(X)>A(A).

We shall define the “value of an outcome”, V(0), as we did under totalism. For any outcome, we find the total sum of the values of the episodes of the bad stuff that would happen if O were carried out and add it to the total sum of the values of the episodes of the good stuff that would happen if O were carried out. This sum is the total value of the outcome. If we divide V(O) by the number of lives lived in that outcome, this quantity would be the average value of the outcome, A(O).

A moral theory that uses this theory of value is average utilitarianism.

AU: Act X is right for agent A to do if and only if A(X) is at least as great as the average value of any alternative to X open to A.

For example, we might be faced with the problem of creating a population for a world that would have a total of 1000 units of happiness, no matter how many people existed there. We can choose between a world containing two people and a world containing four people. The smaller world is better, since a higher average would result from creating fewer people. On AU, this would be the right act.

Averagism has the virtue of avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion. Of the populations diagramed in figure 1, Z has the lowest average value, so it is actually the worst of the group. A is the best. Thus, averagism avoids the Repugnant Conclusion because it does not imply that Z is better than A. If we had to decide between policies that bring about Z or those that bring about A, AU would imply that we ought to follow the latter.

Though averagism avoids the dreaded Repugnant Conclusion, the shortcomings of average theories are well documented.[13] One example used to show the inadequacy of averagism is “The Two Hells.” Hell One is populated by ten innocent people who suffer extreme agony for fifty years. Hell Two is populated by ten million innocent people who suffer extreme agony for fifty years minus a day. Given a choice between One and Two, averagism implies that Hell Two is the better outcome, since the population in Two has a somewhat higher average utility.[14] This result does not seem right. Surely the much greater quantity of suffering in Hell Two more than outweighs the slightly improved average over One.

People for the Sake of Utility

Bill Anglin (1977) presented an argument that purports to undermine the reason for thinking that the Repugnant Conclusion is objectionable. In the course of the discussion he presents the main reason people give for thinking that the Repugnant Conclusion is repugnant. This is the idea that utilitarianism supports the production of people for the sake of utility rather than the production of utility for the sake of people. I shall present and refute this view in this section.

Anglin’s reasoning surfaces in conjunction with an argument the supposedly establishes that the Repugnant Conclusion is not repugnant. The argument begins with the concept of an extra person obligation (EPO). We are obligated to produce a person whose net lifetime utility level is k units of pleasure (k>0) and the net effect the person has on others is negligible.[15] The argument can be rendered as follows:

The Argument from the EPO

  1. No existing obligation is repugnant.
  2. If (1), then the EPO is not repugnant.
  3. If the EPO is. not repugnant, then the Repugnant Conclusion is not repugnant.
  4. Therefore, the Repugnant Conclusion is not repugnant.

The ideas and implications contained in this argument are similar to points I have previously discussed, or will be discussing at length in later chapters. For my purposes here, I am concerned with (3). This is the claim that if the EPO is not repugnant, then the Repugnant Conclusion is not repugnant. Apparently this implication is thought to be true because both the EPO and the Repugnant Conclusion are instances of the production of people for the sake of utility. He writes

Since no actually existing obligation can be repugnant in the sense proper to this paper, it would follow from the fact that there was an Extra Person Obligation that it was not repugnant for there to be an obligation to produce population for the sake of utility … it should be clear that if we could prove that there was an Extra Person Obligation, then we would have dissipated most of the repugnancy of the Repugnant Conclusion.[16]

The reasoning behind (3) is something like this. (1) and (2) imply that the EPO is not repugnant. But the EPO is a case of an obligation to produce population for the sake of utility, so it must be acceptable to produce a population for the sake of utility. It is never wrong to produce people for the sake of utility, at least not for that reason. Since all such obligations are acceptable, and there are no other questionable features of the objection, then there must be nothing wrong with the Repugnant Conclusion.

There are many problematic steps in this justification. I would like to focus on one. Let us suppose the EPO exists and is not repugnant and it is a case of producing population for the sake of utility. This does not show that all such obligations are morally acceptable. It is not difficult to produce a morally unacceptable case where population is produced for the sake of a net positive utility. We can imagine that an adoption lawyer could construct an elaborate scheme to conceive and sell children from donated genetic material. Surrogate mothers would be paid to carry the children to term. Then, instead of allowing the children to be adopted into good homes, the lawyer might sell them into slavery. Each child would have a miserable life, however the positive consequences accruing to those affected far outweigh the child’s misery.

This appears to be a case of the production of population for the sake of utility.[17] The reasons for the repulsiveness of the slave-child case are controversial, but whatever those reasons happen to be, population is being produced for the sake of utility, and we find it morally unacceptable. It is not true that every case of the production of people for the sake of utility is acceptable. Support for line 3 is undermined. I can see no other properties shared by an EPO and the Repugnant Conclusion that could support the implication in (3).

The slave-child example seems to be a straightforward case where people are created for the sake of utility. Anglin writes that the main reason we dislike the Repugnant Conclusion is that it “advocates” the production of a population for the sake of utility, which reverses the proper relationship. No explanation of this given.[18] The fundamental problem with this complaint is that it is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of the Repugnant Conclusion and moral theory. The Repugnant Conclusion advocates nothing, and it does not encourage the people be produced for the purpose of increasing the total level of utility, and it does not advocate that the Z population be brought about in order to achieve the total value of Z. Purposes are not a part of totalism or TU. TU identifies as right those acts that yield the greatest amount of utility; in this indirect sense TU encourages some alternatives and not others. The Repugnant Conclusion is not a moral theory, it requires no choices or acts. It is an objection to totalism, the axiological view.

I believe that Anglin’s argument fails in many ways. The premise we are concerned with here suffered from a poor inductive inference. He argued that if an obligation has property P and is morally acceptable, then all obligations having P are morally acceptable. I have argued that this is fallacious. He has failed in demonstrating that the Repugnant Conclusion is not repugnant.

An Acceptable Repugnant Conclusion

A different way of dealing with the objection is to admit that totalistic theories do imply that a highly populated world at a very low average utility level could be the most valuable alternative, but if we make out the axiology correctly, there is nothing morally objectionable about this implication. This approach is interesting since it embraces totalism, yet avoids the dreadful result of the objection. Robin Attfield takes this approach in A Theory of Value and Obligation, and it is this response with which I will be concerned in this section.

In two books and several articles, Robin Attfield has developed a value theory and a moral theory committed to totalism.[19] He seems to accept Parfit’s argument, yet he claims that given the terms of his theory, the Repugnant Conclusion “becomes easier to accept,”[20] and it “loses its repugnancy and its sting.”[21] If he is right, he must conclude that Parfit is mistaken in thinking that this is a problem for all totalistic theories.

Why does Attfield believe that on his theory, the Repugnant Conclusion is no longer repugnant? This is difficult to determine. He claims that the Repugnant Conclusion is easier to accept because the decline in the quality of life for people who happen to be members of both populations compared in the Conclusion could not amount to any considerable deprivation of the satisfaction of basic needs … as all members of the larger population lead lives which are worth living.[22]

As I understand this and other passages, Attfield’s response is that whenever his theory entails that Z is better than A, this comparison is not morally objectionable. If all the Z people do indeed have lives just barely worth living, then it is true that Z is better than A. Their basic needs may be inconsistently satisfied, but not deprived over a long period. His reply to Parfit’s objection must be that premise 1 is true, but there is nothing repugnant about Z being better than A. For the Z people, he claims, “life is sweet.”[23] So line 2 is false.[24] Thus, provided the Z-people have lives worth living, there is no repugnancy and no sting to the claim that Z is better than A.

I believe that this response to Parfit is entirely ineffective. First, I have shown in very simple cases that Attfield’s judgment of the value of a population is inaccurate. His moral theory is unable to handle the simple case of Joe and Mary, and does not yield the intuitively correct result in a case of assisting some members of a population. Since his value judgments are off the mark in obvious cases, we cannot reasonably expect his theory to get the right answers to more complex situations. His acceptance of line 1 of Parfit’s argument cannot be trusted.

Perhaps I have unfairly formulated his theory – perhaps there is a way to accept the idea that Z is better than A and that such a claim is not repugnant. Attfield has not indicated a way to do this. I maintain that the same problem Parfit raises is a difficulty here. In his discussions, Attfield clearly indicates what a life just worth living would be like. Each Z-person would have about half of their essential capacities developed, but only to some degree.[25] It would be possible for each Z person to be missing some of their senses; their basic needs could be inconsistently met, but there would be no long term starvation. Now, a human capacity is simply the ability to exercise a power characteristic of our species. These powers need not be practiced.[26] So some Z-people develop a low-level capacity for autonomy, but never in their lifetimes make a decision for themselves. Others might have the capacity for some rudimentary practical reasoning, but never actually reason. Others may lack these capacities, but have some ability to move around, yet never be able to physically move. This seems to be the nature of a life just barely worth living.

If my analysis is correct, then Attfield must hold that a Z-world filled with huge numbers of such underdeveloped people living at the level where there basic needs are just being met is better than the A-world, and there is nothing morally objectionable about this claim. I find this result equally repugnant. This theory fares no better against the objection as originally presented by Parfit. The notion that Attfield’s Z-world is better than the A-world is morally unacceptable. I conclude that Attfield fails to deliver on the promise of solving the problem presented by Parfit with a totalistic theory. It remains to be seen if other totalistic approaches could make accepting the Repugnant Conclusion acceptable.

Conclusion

In this paper I have brought out and examined the objection known as the Repugnant Conclusion. I have attempted to clarify the objection and its relation to axiologies and ethical theories. This makes the objection and the argument clear. As I see it, the objection is directed against totalisms of all forms. Whatever it is we take to be of value in a situation, if we believe the more of it, the better, then the Repugnant Conclusion seems to be a problem. I have succeeded in setting out and analyzing what I believe to be one of the most serious criticisms in contemporary ethical theory. More accurately, as I conceive of it, the Repugnant Conclusion is a criticism of totalistic axiologies. For whatever states of affairs one takes to have value, if one is a totalist, then the Repugnant Conclusion is a problem.

In the first sections of this paper I worked out the problem and articulated the objection/

The idea of the objection is that, given a possible state of affairs at a positive average level of value, there is a much more populous world that would be better, even though the level of value in the larger world is less than the level of value in the smaller world, and each life in that larger world is barely worth living.

The argument, as I have contended, is this

The Argument from the Repugnant Conclusion

  1. If totalistic axiologies are true, then Z is better than A.
  2. It is not the case that Z is better than A.
  3. Therefore, totalistic axiologies not true.

If totalism is true, then the more populous world is better than the less populous world. Our intuitions do not support this result, it is false that Z is better than A. Totalism must be false.

There are many responses to this problem in the literature that seek to show that the Repugnant Conclusion is not really a problem. I reviewed the two most significant objections to the problem. On these responses, the Repugnant Conclusion was held to be (1) a case of producing people for the sake of utility, and (2) not repugnant. I argued that none of these responses are acceptable. I maintain that Parfit’s objection stands. The problem he presents is serious, and not easily avoided. It is a challenge to anyone who thinks that it is better to have more of whatever it is that has value.

References

Anglin, B. (December 1977) The Repugnant Conclusion. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 2 (4), 745-754

Attfield, R. (1988). Population Policies and the Value of People” in Philosophical Essays on Ideas of a Good Society, eds Yeager Hudson and Creighton Peden. Lewiston, New York, Edwin Mellen Press),pp. 191-201

Attfield, R. (1987). A Theory of Value and Obligation. London: Croom Helm.

Attfield, R. (1983). The Ethics of Environmental Concern. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Hurka. T. (March 1982). Average Utilitarianisms. Analysis, 42(2), 65-69

Ryberg, J. (1996). Parfit’s Repugnant Conclusion. Philosophical Quarterly, 46, 202-13.

Parfit, D. (1984). Reasons and Persons. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Parfit, D. (1986). Overpopulation and the Quality of Life” in Singer Applied Ethic, Oxford U P, pp. 145-164.

VanDeVeer, D. (1986). People, Penguins, and Plastic Trees. CA: Wadsworth.

[1]  This is Parfit’s formulation that incorrectly conflates quantity of happiness with “the greatest net sum.” Reasons and Persons, p. XX.

[2]  Ryberg, J. Parfit’s Repugnant Conclusion. Philosophical Quarterly 46 (1996), pp. 202-13.

[3]  See Donald VanDeVeer People. Penguins, and Plastic Trees. Wadsworth, 1986.

[4]  Reasons and Persons, p. 385.

[5]  Ibid.

[6]  Reasons and Persons, p. 388.

[7]  For example, Attfield appeals to the practical consequences sheer numbers of people would have on the environment in attempting to take the “sting” out of the Repugnant Conclusion.

[8]  Parfit may have made this error himself. See his discussion of the Mere Addition Paradox.

[9]  Reasons and Persons, p. 388

[10]  Ibid., p. 389

[11]  Reasons and Persons, and “Overpopulation” p. 149

[12]  Parfit then goes on to argue that his utility monster, case Z, is not unimaginable. We can conceive of a life that is only barely worth living. We need only imagine that there are very many people living such lives. He does concede that we could not actually face a choice between A and Z. (Reasons and Persons, p.389) “but this would be merely technically impossible.” Nevertheless, such a case is a test for our moral views. We need only imagine that resources were allocated in such a way that everyone had only slightly more pleasure than pain, or happiness than misery, or that the quality of life was so low that most any negative change in their lives would make it a life that is not worth living. We can imagine this and since the impossibility is only technical, we can use this example as a test of our moral principles.

[13]  Hurka,1982, Parfit Reasons and Persons, p. 399.

[14]  Reasons and Persons, p. 406.

[15]  Anglin writes that the actual cost to others is somewhat greater than this (a .001 k net decrease in others), but it is still far less than k.

[16]  Anglin, p.751.

[17]  Given certain conditions, the lawyer’s actions are also required by TU. EPO also rests on this theory. Anglin 751, 753-4

[18]  There are a number of ways in which “x for the sake of y” may be understood. (1) Sometimes we say this when our motivation for doing x is to bring about or help to bring about y. On this reading, what we mean when we say that the Repugnant Conclusion advocates the production of a population for the sake of utility, we mean that our motivation for creating some number of people is to bring about utility. This cannot be the sense in which Anglin is using “for the sake of because nothing in conventional utilitarian moral theories makes any claim about how agents should be motivated. The theories Anglin discusses do not appeal to motivation. (2)

Another possibility is this. Anglin explains that we should “produce utility for the sake of a population” means that “one should not maximize happiness except in relation to some already given population.”Anglin p.749. Thus, I find this criticism of the Repugnant Conclusion incoherent.

[19]  Attfield, Robin The Ethics of Environmental Concern (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1983). A Theory of Value and Obligation (London: CroomHelm, 1987). “Population Policies and the value of People” in Philosophical Essays on Ideas of a Good Society Creighton Peden and Yeager Hudson, eds. (Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1988) 191-201.

[20]  Attfield, 1987, p. 174

[21]  Ibid., 1987, p. 175.

[22]  Attfield, 1987, p. 175, and pp. 166-7. See also “Population Policies and the Value of People,” 1988, p. 195.

[23]  Attfield, 1987, p. 174.

[24]  “Thus in the transition [comparing A and Z] the blessings of life are sharedbetween existing and extra people, all of whom end up leading lives worth living, and enjoying between them a greater share of’whatever makes life worth living’… Thus  the Total Theory eludes the pitfalls of rival theories …” Attfield, 1987, p. 175.

[25]  Attfield, 1987, pp. 169,167.

[26]  Attfield, 1987, p. 51.

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