Volume 112, Issue 8, August 2015
Mere Addition and the Separateness of Persons
How can we resist the repugnant conclusion? James Griffin has plausibly suggested that part way through the sequence we may reach a world—let us call it “J”—in which the lives are lexically superior to those that follow. If it would be preferable to live a single life in J than through any number of lives in the next one (“K”), then it would be strange to judge K the better world. Instead, we may reasonably “suspend addition” and judge J superior, as if aggregating the lives in the larger world intrapersonally. I argue that the addition of new people with separate preferences renders this inference illicit when comparing J+ and K. When one pairwise comparison suspends addition and the other does not, the result is an intransitive value judgement: J ≤ J+ < K < J, producing the mere addition paradox.