Broome on Moral Goodness and Population Ethics

and Overview In an earlier book, Weighing Goods1, John Broome gave a sophisticated defense of utilitarianism for the cases involving a fixed population. In the present book, Weighing Lives, he extends this defense to variable population cases, where different individuals exist depending on which choice is made. Broome defends a version of utilitarianism according to which there is a vague positive level of individual wellbeing such that adding a life with more than that level of wellbeing makes things morally better and adding a life with less than that level makes things morally worse. This version of utilitarianism avoids the extreme—but perhaps not all— forms of the repugnant conclusion that the usual total version faces. As usual, Broome’s work combines logical rigor with deep philosophical insight. There is much to learn from it. Nonetheless, I shall identify some problematic conditions used by Broome to derive utilitarianism and suggest that Broome’s version of utilitarianism has implausible implications
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