Critical-Level Utilitarianism and the Population-Ethics Dilemma

Discussion Paper No.: 97-06

34 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 1998

See all articles by Charles Blackorby

Charles Blackorby

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics; University of Angers - Research Group in Quantitative Saving (GREQAM)

Walter Bossert

CIREQ

David J. Donaldson

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 1997

Abstract

Principles for the social evaluation of states of affairs with different population sizes, such as Classical Utilitarianism, often lead to the repugnant conclusion. Those that avoid it may have other ethically unattractive features. Average Utilitarianism does not lead to the repugnant conclusion but, in some cases, considers the addition of individuals whose lives are below neutrality to a utility-unaffected population to be good. Principles in the Critical-Level Utilitarian (CLU) family with critical levels of utility above neutrality avoid the repugnant conclusion, and their performance is compared with other principles in this paper. In addition, the performance of the Critical-Level Generalized Utilitarian (CLGU) family, a set of principles which generalizes CLU to allow for inequality aversion in well-being, is investigated. We argue that the CLU and CLGU families provide the most satisfactory principles for the moral evaluation of states of affairs with different populations or population sizes.

JEL Classification: D63

Suggested Citation

Blackorby, Charles and Bossert, Walter and Donaldson, David J., Critical-Level Utilitarianism and the Population-Ethics Dilemma (February 1997). Discussion Paper No.: 97-06. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=73511 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.73511

Charles Blackorby (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics ( email )

997-1873 East Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Canada
604-822-6685 (Phone)
604-822-5915 (Fax)

University of Angers - Research Group in Quantitative Saving (GREQAM)

Centre de la Vieille Charité
2, rue de la Charité
13002 Marseille
France

Walter Bossert

CIREQ ( email )

C.P. 6128, succursale Centre-Ville
Montreal, Quebec H3C 3J7
Canada

David J. Donaldson

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics ( email )

997-1873 East Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Canada
604-822-6763 (Phone)
604-822-5915 (Fax)

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
204
Abstract Views
1,824
rank
154,816
PlumX Metrics