Escaping the repugnant conclusion: rank-discounted utilitarianism with variable population
AbstractWe contribute to population ethics by proposing and axiomatizing rank-discounted critical-level generalized utilitarianism (RDCLU). Population ethics is needed for evaluation of policies, e.g., concerning climate change, where population size depends on the chosen policy. We show that critical-level generalized utilitarianism and (a version of) critical-level leximin are the limits of RDCLU for extreme values of the rank utility discount factor. Moreover, we establish how RDCLU avoids serious objections raised against other variable population criteria. In particular, it escapes both the Repugnant Conclusion and the Very Sadistic Conclusion (one of which critical-level generalized utilitarianism fails for any critical level).
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Social evaluation; population ethics; critical-level utilitarianism; social discounting;
Other versions of this item:
- Geir B. Asheim & Stéphane Zuber, 2012. "Escaping the Repugnant Conclusion: Rank-Discounted Utilitarianism with Variable Population," CESifo Working Paper Series 3958, CESifo Group Munich.
- Asheim, Geir B. & Zuber, Stephane, 2012. "Escaping the Repugnant Conclusion: Rank-discounted Utilitarianism with Variable Population," Memorandum 23/2012, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
- D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
- D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
- H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate
- Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
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