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date: 19 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Problems concerning future populations help us better understand what it is for one possible future, or world, to be morally better than another. The repugnant conclusion challenges traditional forms of consequentialism, including utilitarianism. A key issue is whether, per the traditional view, we make things morally better (1) by creating additional people whose lives are worth living and (2) by creating nonidentical better-off people in place of less well-off but distinct people. Or can we, instead, make things morally better only (3) by making things better for some particular person or another? Is the structure of morality aggregative in nature or instead person-affecting (or person-based) in nature? While the latter, non-traditional view may tempt us, it also seems to give rise to the nonidentity problem and various inconsistency objections. Can those problems be resolved? Questions raised by Parfit and others decades ago remain unsettled today but as critical as ever.

Keywords: utilitarianism, person-affecting view, person-based view, impersonal view, repugnant conclusion, nonidentity problem, Parfit

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