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Southwest Philosophy Review

Volume 37, Issue 1, January 2021

Ken Rogerson
Pages 133-139

Utilitarian Aggregation

I want to tackle a central thesis of contemporary Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism holds what has come to be called the Aggregation Thesis. The Aggregation Thesis claims, roughly, that several individual harms (or benefits) can be “added up” to represent a larger harm (or benefit). One controversial aspect of this view is that, seemingly, one large harm to a single individual (or smaller group) could be justified if such a harm spared a significantly smaller harm dealt out to a much larger number of other individuals. I will argue that on Utilitarian’s own grounds, the aggregation thesis is not warranted.