Utilitas 7 (2):189-206 (1995)

In Chapter 17 of his magnificent Reasons and Persons, Derek Parfit asks what he describes as an ‘awesome question’: ‘How many people should there ever be?’ For a utilitarian like me, the answer seems simple: there should be however many people it takes to make the world best. Unfortunately, if I answer Parfit's awesome question in this way, I may sink myself in a quagmire of axiological confusion. In this paper, I first describe certain aspects of the quagmire. Then I introduce and explain some of the elements of a novel axiological view – ‘justicism’. Justicism is derived from some ideas originally suggested by Franz Brentano. It was developed in an effort to solve certain other problems confronting utilitarianism – problems explicitly about justice. I think, however, that as a sort of happy by-product, justicism also generates a plausible answer to Parfit's awesome question. This may come as a bit of surprise, since justicism is a form of totalism, and it is widely thought that no totalistic theory can provide a satisfactory answer to Parfit's question. After presenting and explaining my proposed solution, I address some objections.
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DOI 10.1017/s095382080000203x
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References found in this work BETA

Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
Principia Ethica.Evander Bradley McGilvary - 1904 - Philosophical Review 13 (3):351.
The Origin of The Knowledge of Right and Wrong. Franz Brentano.G. E. Moore - 1903 - International Journal of Ethics 14 (1):115-123.
Value and Population Size.Thomas Hurka - 1982 - Ethics 93 (3):496-507.

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