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Repugnant Conclusion

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L153-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2019
Retrieved June 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

Over the past four decades philosophical attention has been directed to the ethical questions that arise when one’s actions will affect the identity or number of people that will come into existence. This consideration has become known as population ethics. A pivotal point in the discussion of population ethical issues is the Repugnant Conclusion which, in Derek Parfit’s original formulation, states: ‘For any possible population of at least ten billion people, all with a very high quality of life, there must be some much larger imaginable population whose existence, if other things are equal, would be better even though its members have lives that are barely worth living’ (Parfit 1984: 388). The cardinal philosophical task has been to provide answers to population ethical questions without being forced to accept the Repugnant Conclusion. Various attempts at meeting this challenge have been developed.

Citing this article:
Ryberg, Jesper. Repugnant Conclusion, 2019, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L153-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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