Z to the Power of a Trillion

z_to_the_power_of_a_trillionIn the post about the last and extremely depressing chapter of Peter Singer’s last and extremely depressing book, we’ve addressed a scenario comparison made by the philosopher Derek Parfit (quoted by Singer) regarding the moral obligations for future generations.
In this post we want to address Parfit’s most famous contribution to the field of population ethics which is a paradox in moral philosophy called The Repugnant Conclusion.

The paradox is presented in a book called Reasons and Persons written about 30 years ago, and is considered since then as an iconic work in the field of analytic philosophy.
Basically the paradox is the following – according to utilitarian thought, we ought to choose a world in which billions upon billions of people are living lives barely worth living over a world in which much less people are living extremely happy lives, if the sum of the happiness in the extremely populated world is greater than the sum of the happiness in the extremely happy world. Continue reading