Imprecise lexical superiority and the (slightly less) Repugnant Conclusion

  • James Fanciullo


Recently, Derek Parfit has offered a novel solution to the “Repugnant Conclusion” that compared with the existence of many people whose quality of life would be very high, there is some much larger number of people whose existence would be better but whose lives would be barely worth living. On this solution, qualitative differences between two populations will often entail that the populations are merely “imprecisely” comparable. According to Parfit, this fact allows us to avoid the Repugnant Conclusion without violating the transitivity of better than. In this paper, I argue that Parfit’s view nevertheless implies two objectionable conclusions. The first is an alternative version of the Repugnant Conclusion that, Parfit suggests, may not be all that repugnant. The second is a revised version of the first that is nearly identical to the Repugnant Conclusion. I conclude that Parfit’s view offers no escape from repugnance.


Imprecision Lexical superiority Population ethics Repugnant Conclusion 



Many thanks to Doug Portmore and several anonymous reviewers for most helpful comments.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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