•  512
    An impossibility theorem for welfarist axiologies
    Economics and Philosophy 16 (2): 247-266. 2000.
    A search is under way for a theory that can accommodate our intuitions in population axiology. The object of this search has proved elusive. This is not surprising since, as we shall see, any welfarist axiology that satisfies three reasonable conditions implies at least one of three counter-intuitive conclusions. I shall start by pointing out the failures in three recent attempts to construct an acceptable population axiology. I shall then present an impossibility theorem and conclude with a sho…Read more
  •  451
    Can it be better or worse for a person to be than not to be, that is, can it be better or worse to exist than not to exist at all? This old 'existential question' has been raised anew in contemporary moral philosophy. There are roughly two reasons for this renewed interest. Firstly, traditional so-called “impersonal” ethical theories, such as utilitarianism, have counter-intuitive implications in regard to questions concerning procreation and our moral duties to future, not yet existing people. …Read more
  •  351
    Can the Person Affecting Restriction solve the problems in population ethics?
    In M. A. Roberts & D. T. Wasserman (eds.), Harming Future Persons, Springer Verlag. pp. 289--314. 2009.
    The person-affecting restriction, in its slogan form, states that an outcome can be better than another only if it is better for someone. It has a strong intuitive appeal and several theorists have suggested that it avoids certain counterintuitive implications in population ethics. At the same time, the restriction has highly counterintuitive implications and yields non-transitive orderings in some nonidentity cases. Many theorists have taken this criticism to be decisive. Recently, however, the…Read more
  •  244
    FD-Diss., Uppsala: University Printers, 2000 (ix+225 pages).
  •  220
    To the Editor of Theoria
    with Ingar Brinck, Kathrin Glüer-Pagin, Lena Halldenius, Anna-Sofia Maurin, Folke Tersman, and Åsa Wikforss
    Theoria 77 (3): 198-198. 2011.
  •  207
    The paradoxes of future generations and normative theory
    In Torbjörn Tännsjö & Jesper Ryberg (eds.), The Repugnant Conclusion: Essays on Population Ethics, Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 201-218. 2004.
    As the title of this paper indicates, I’m going to discuss what we ought to do in situations where our actions affect future generations. More specifically, I shall focus on the moral problems raised by cases where our actions affect who’s going to live, their number and their well being. I’ll start, however, with population axiology. Most discussion in population ethics has concentrated on how to evaluate populations in regard to their goodness, that is, how to order populations by the relation…Read more
  •  165
    Population axiology concerns how to evaluate populations in regard to their goodness, that is, how to order populations by the relations “is better than” and “is as good as”. This field has been riddled with “paradoxes” which seem to show that our considered beliefs are inconsistent in cases where the number of people and their welfare varies. Already in Derek Parfit’s seminal contribution to the topic, an informal paradox — the Mere Addition Paradox — was presented and later contributions have …Read more
  •  161
    Value and unacceptable risk
    with Wlodek Rabinowicz
    Economics and Philosophy 21 (2): 177-197. 2005.
    Consider a transitive value ordering of outcomes and lotteries on outcomes, which satisfies substitutivity of equivalents and obeys “continuity for easy cases,” i.e., allows compensating risks of small losses by chances of small improvements. Temkin (2001) has argued that such an ordering must also – rather counter-intuitively – allow chances of small improvements to compensate risks of huge losses. In this paper, we show that Temkin's argument is flawed but that a better proof is possible. Howe…Read more
  •  156
    Millian superiorities
    Utilitas 17 (2): 127-146. 2005.
    Suppose one sets up a sequence of less and less valuable objects such that each object in the sequence is only marginally worse than its immediate predecessor. Could one in this way arrive at something that is dramatically inferior to the point of departure? It has been claimed that if there is a radical value difference between the objects at each end of the sequence, then at some point there must be a corresponding radical difference between the adjacent elements. The underlying picture seems …Read more
  •  148
    Life extension versus replacement
    Journal of Applied Philosophy 25 (3): 211-227. 2008.
    It seems to be a widespread opinion that increasing the length of existing happy lives is better than creating new happy lives although the total welfare is the same in both cases, and that it may be better even when the total welfare is lower in the outcome with extended lives. I shall discuss two interesting suggestion that seems to support this idea, or so it has been argued. Firstly, the idea there is a positive level of wellbeing above which a life has to reach to have positive contributive…Read more
  •  143
    It has been known for quite a while that traditional ethical theories have very counterintuitive and paradoxical implications for questions concerning procreation and our moral duties to future generations. Classical Utilitarianism, for example, seems to imply that we have a moral duty to procreate and that we should try to have as many off-springs as possible. More disturbingly, it implies Derek Parfit’s well-known Repugnant Conclusion.
  •  126
    The long sweep of human history has involved a continuing interaction between peoples' efforts to improve their well-being and the environment's stability to sustain those efforts. Throughout most of that history, the interactions between human development and the environment have been relatively simple and local affairs. But the complexity and scale of those interactions are increasing. What were once local incidents of pollution shared throughout a common watershed or air basin now involve mul…Read more
  •  125
    Fred Feldman has proposed a desert-adjusted version of utilitarianism,, as a plausible population axiology. Among other things, he claims that justicism avoids Derek Parfit's. This paper explains the theory and tries to straighten out some of its ambiguities. Moreover, it is shown that it is not clear whether justicism avoids the repugnant conclusion and that it is has other counter-intuitive implications. It is concluded that justicism is not convincing as a population axiology
  •  122
    Future Generations
    Dissertation, Uppsala University. 2000.
    For the last thirty years or so, there has been a search underway for a theory that can accommodate our intuitions in regard to moral duties to future generations. The object of this search has proved surprisingly elusive. The classical moral theories in the literature all have perplexing implications in this area. Classical Utilitarianism, for instance, implies that it could be better to expand a population even if everyone in the resulting population would be much worse off than in the origina…Read more
  •  104
    Population axiology concerns how to evaluate populations in terms of their moral goodness, that is, how to order populations by the relations “is better than” and “is as good as”. The task has been to find an adequate theory about the moral value of states of affairs where the number of people, the quality of their lives, and their identities may vary. So far, this field has largely ignored issues about uncertainty and the conditions that have been discussed mostly pertain to the ranking of risk…Read more
  •  99
    The repugnant conclusion
    with Jesper Ryberg and Torbjörn Tännsjö
    The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Online; Last Accessed October 4 2006. 2006.
  •  96
    Recently, in his Rolf Schock Prize Lecture, Derek Parfit has suggested a novel way of avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion by introducing what he calls “imprecision” in value comparisons. He suggests that in a range of important cases, populations of different sizes are only imprecisely comparable. Parfit suggests that this feature of value comparisons opens up a way of avoiding the Repugnant Conclusion without implying other counterintuitive conclusions, and thus solves one of the major challenges…Read more
  •  91
    Traditional ethical theories have paradoxical implications in regards to questions concerning procreation and our moral duties to future people. It has been suggested that the crux of the problem resides in an all too ‘impersonal’ axiology and that the problems of population axiology can be solved by adopting a ‘Person Affecting Restriction’ which in its slogan form states that an outcome can only be better than another if it is better for people. This move has been especially popular in the con…Read more
  •  86
    Egalitarianism and Population Change
    In Axel Gosseries & Lukas H. Meyer (eds.), Intergenerational Justice, Oxford University Press. pp. 325-349. 2009.
  •  81
    The Value of Existence
    with Wlodek Rabinowicz
    In Iwao Hirose & Jonas Olson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Value Theory, Oxford University Press Usa. pp. 424-444. 2015.
    Can it be better or worse for a person to exist than not to exist at all? This old and challenging existential question has been raised anew in contemporary moral philosophy, mainly for two reasons. First, traditional “impersonal” ethical theories, such as utilitarianism, have counterintuitive implications in population ethics, for example, the repugnant conclusion. Second, it has seemed evident to many that an outcome can be better than another only if it is better for someone, and that only mo…Read more
  •  74
    Superiority in Value
    Philosophical Studies 123 (1-2): 97-114. 2005.
  •  68
    Population Ethics and Metaethics
    Iride: Filosofia e Discussione Pubblica 25 (1): 35-44. 2012.
    This paper focuses on the relations between population ethics and metaethics. Population ethics gives rise to well-known paradoxes, such as the paradox of mere addition. After presenting a version of this paradox, it is argued that a different way to dismantle it might be by considering it as a way to change our standard view of justification in moral theory. Two possible views are considered: a non-cognitivist approach to justification and to the explanation of inconsistency in morals; Parfit's…Read more
  •  65
    One more axiological impossibility theorem
    In Lars-Göran Johansson, Jan Österberg & Ryszard Sliwinski (eds.), Logic, Ethics and All That Jazz. Essays in Honour of Jordan Howard Sobel, Uppsala Philosophical Studies. pp. 23-37. 2009.
    Population axiology concerns how to evaluate populations in regard to their goodness, that is, how to order populations by the relations “is better than” and “is as good as”. This field has been riddled with impossibility results which seem to show that our considered beliefs are inconsistent in cases where the number of people and their welfare varies.1 All of these results have one thing in common, however. They all involve an adequacy condition that rules out Derek Parfit’s Repugnant Conclusi…Read more
  •  58
    Desert as fit: An axiomatic analysis
    In Kris McDaniel, Jason R. Raibley, Richard Feldman & Michael E. Zimmerman (eds.), The Good, the Right, Life And Death: Essays in Honor of Fred Feldman, Ashgate Pub Co. pp. 3-17. 2006.
    Total Utilitarianism is the view that an action is right if and only if it maximizes the sum total of people’s well-being. A common objection to Total Utilitarianism is that it is insensitive to matters of distributive justice. For example, for a given amount of well-being, Total Utilitarianism is indifferent between an equal distribution and any unequal distribution, and if there would be a tiny gain in well-being by moving from an equal distribution to an unequal, we have a duty to do so. To m…Read more
  •  52
    Jan Österberg is one of the pioneers in the field of population ethics. He started thinking about this issue already in the late 60s and he has developed one of the most original and interesting population axiologies.1 I’ve discussed the problems and drawbacks of Österberg’s theory elsewhere, and I don’t think that this is the place and time to discuss them again.2 Rather, I shall show that Österberg’s theory has a feature in common with the population axiologies of such luminaries like Plato, A…Read more
  •  51
    Value Superiority
    In Iwao Hirose & Jonas Olson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Value Theory, Oxford University Press Usa. pp. 225-248. 2015.
    Suppose that A and B are two kinds of goods such that more of each is better than less. A is strongly superior to B if any amount of A is better than any amount of B. It is weakly superior to B if some amount of A is better than any amount of B. There are many examples of these relations in the literature, sometimes under the labels “higher goods” and “discontinuity.” The chapter gives a precise and generalized statement of Strong and Weak Superiority and discusses different ways in which these …Read more
  •  50
    Repugnant Conclusion
    In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics, Wiley-blackwell. 2013.
  •  26
    Defining democratic decision making
    In Frans Svensson & Rysiek Silwinski (eds.), Neither/Nor - Philosophical Papers Dedicated to Erik Carlson on the Occasion of His Fiftieth Birthday, Uppsala Philosophical Studies. pp. 13-29. 2011.
    In his Populist Democracy: A Defence (1993), Torbjörn Tännsjö suggests, roughly, the following necessary and sufficient conditions for a democratic collective choice: If the majority of a given group of voters prefer A to B, then the collective choice is A rather than B; and if the majority of voters had preferred B to A, then the collective choice would have been B rather than A. Moreover, the preference of a voter is equated with the one she is showing by the act of voting (e.g., by putting a …Read more