Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

New Introduction to Population Ethics

I recently took over as the lead editor for utilitarianism.net, where we've just published a new introduction to population ethics.  Check it out!  (And feel free to email me with any suggestions or corrections.)My favourite bit was translating Johan Gustafsson's critical range view into the colloquial idiom of "meh" lives and "value blur" (with thanks to Helen for suggesting the term 'meh').  Here's a selection, minus footnotes and illustrations...Adding an individual makes an outcome better to the extent that their wellbeing exceeds the upper end of a critical range, and makes an outcome worse to the extent that their wellbeing falls below the lower limit of the critical range. [...]What about lives that fall within the critical range? Life within this range may strike us as meh: neither good nor bad, but also not precisely equal to zero in value, either. After all, some meh lives (those toward the upper end of the range) are better than others (those toward the lower end), so it cannot be that adding any life in this range results in an equally valuable outcome. Instead, the outcome’s value must be incomparable or on a par with that of the prior state: neither better, nor worse, nor precisely equal in value. Note that it may be better to add an upper-range meh life to the world than to add a lower-range meh life, even though adding either life is merely "meh", or results in an outcome that is incomparable with the world in which neither life is [More]

Absolute and Relational Space and Motion: Post-Newtonian Theories

[Revised entry by Nick Huggett, Carl Hoefer, and James Read on July 19, 2021. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, machs-bucket.jpg, notes.html] What is the nature of motion in physical theories and theorising, and is there any significance to the distinction between 'absolute' and 'relative' motion? In the companion article, on absolute and relational space and motion: classical theories, we discussed how such questions were addressed in the history of physics from Aristotle through to Newton and Leibniz. In this article, we explore the ways in which the selfsame issues have been taken up [More]