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Critical-Level Population Principles And The Repugnant Conclusion

  • Charles BLACKORBY
  • Walter BOSSERT
  • David DONALDSON

Critical-level generalized-utilitarian population principles with positive critical levels provide an ethically attractive way of avoiding the repugnant conclusion. We discuss the axiomatic foundations of critical-level generalized utilitarianism and investigate its relationship to the sadistic and strong sadistic conclusions. A positive critical level avoids the repugnant conclusion. We demonstrate that, although no critical-level generalized-utilitarian principle can avoid both the repugnant and strong sadistic conclusions, principles that avoid both have significant defects.

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Paper provided by Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 15-2002.

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Length: 14 pages
Date of creation: 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mtl:montec:15-2002
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  1. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 2002. "Utilitarianism and the theory of justice," Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare, in: K. J. Arrow & A. K. Sen & K. Suzumura (ed.), Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 543-596 Elsevier.
  2. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 1995. "Intertemporal Population Ethics: Critical-Level Utilitarian Principles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(6), pages 1303-20, November.
  3. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1984. "Social criteria for evaluating population change," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1-2), pages 13-33, November.
  4. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 2002. " Population Principles with Number-Dependent Critical Levels," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 4(3), pages 347-68.
  5. Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1989. "What Should We Do About Future Generations?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(02), pages 235-253, October.
  6. Arrhenius, Gustaf, 2000. "An Impossibility Theorem for Welfarist Axiologies," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(02), pages 247-266, October.
  7. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 2001. "The Axiomatic Approach to Population Ethics," Discussion Paper 24, Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  8. Carlson, Erik, 1998. "Mere Addition and Two Trilemmas of Population Ethics," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(02), pages 283-306, October.
  9. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 1997. "Critical-Level Utilitarianism and the Population-Ethics Dilemma," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(02), pages 197-230, October.
  10. Charles Blackorby & Walter Bossert & David Donaldson & Marc Fleurbaey, 1998. "Critical levels and the (reverse) repugnant conclusion," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 67(1), pages 1-15, February.
  11. Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1986. "Social criteria for evaluating population change: An alternative to the Blackorby-Donaldson criterion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 375-381, April.
  12. Walter Bossert & David Donaldson & Charles Blackorby, 1998. "Uncertainty and critical-level population principles," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 1-20.
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