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The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 112, Issue 8, August 2015

Matthew Rendall
Pages 442-455
DOI: 10.5840/jphil2015112827

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.

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