Does the Total Principle have any Repugnant Implications?
Article first published online: 17 DEC 2002
Blackwell Publishers Ltd. 1999
Volume 12, Issue 1, pages 80–98, March 1999
How to Cite
Portmore, D. W. (1999), Does the Total Principle have any Repugnant Implications?. Ratio, 12: 80–98. doi: 10.1111/1467-9329.00078
- Issue published online: 17 DEC 2002
- Article first published online: 17 DEC 2002
- Cited By
On the Total Principle, the best state of affairs (ceteris paribus) is the one with the greatest net sum of welfare value. Parfit rejects this principle, because he believes that it implies the Repugnant Conclusion, the conclusion that for any large population of people, all with lives well worth living, there will be some much larger population whose existence would be better, even though its members all have lives that are only barely worth living. Recently, however, a number of philosophers have suggested that the Total Principle does not imply the Repugnant Conclusion provided that a certain axiological view (namely, the ‘Discontinuity View’) is correct. Nevertheless, as I point out, there are three different versions of the Repugnant Conclusion, and it appears that the Total Principle will imply two of the three even if the Discontinuity View is correct. I then go on to argue that one of the two remaining versions turns out not to be repugnant after all. Second, I argue that the last remaining version is not, as it turns out, implied by the Total Principle. Thus, my arguments show that the Total Principle has no repugnant implications.