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Population Axiology and the Possibility of a Fourth Category of Absolute Value

Journal article
Authors Johan E. Gustafsson
Published in Economics and Philosophy
Volume 36
Issue 1
Pages 81-110
ISSN 0266-2671
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science
Pages 81-110
Language en
Keywords population ethics; Critical-Level Utilitarianism; Critical-Range Utilitarianism; the Repugnant Conclusion; the Sadistic Conclusion
Subject categories Philosophy


Critical-Range Utilitarianism is a variant of Total Utilitarianism which can avoid both the Repugnant Conclusion and the Sadistic Conclusion in population ethics. Yet Standard Critical-Range Utilitarianism entails the Weak Sadistic Conclusion, that is, it entails that each population consisting of lives at a bad well-being level is not worse than some population consisting of lives at a good well-being level. In this paper, I defend a version of Critical-Range Utilitarianism which does not entail the Weak Sadistic Conclusion. This is made possible by what I call 'undistinguishedness', a fourth category of absolute value in addition to goodness, badness, and neutrality.

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