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New Introduction to Population Ethics

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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 added.To further develop this view, we may think of the value of a life as having two dimensions. In addition to the familiar negative-vs-positive dimension, there is a second dimension of what we might call value blur. When there is zero blur, the resulting values are perfectly precise and comparable: any positive life, however barely so, then constitutes an intrinsic improvement to the world. But as we increase blur, the resulting value becomes increasingly "meh", or incomparable. If life's value had. . .

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