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Sustainable development and the value of future populations: Reviving the average view
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
2018 (English)In: The 11th International Conference on Applied Ethics - Center for Applied Philosophy & Ethics - Kyoto University, Japan 15th-16th December 2018: Abstracts, Kyoto, 2018Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Philosophical investigations that explicitly concern sustainable development have largely been conducted separately from work within population ethics, and vice versa. In this paper I suggest that taking the idea of sustainable development (as expressed in the Brundtland report) seriously can provide important insights for population ethics, i.e. for the question of how to account for the value of future populations. I argue that a common sense intuition in line with the sustainability idea points in the direction of the so called average view within population ethics, a view that nowadays has rather few adherents and is generally considered deeply problematic for several reasons. This common sense intuition can be roughly expressed as follows: It is good if people in the future live good lives, irrespective of who they are and how many they are, and it is bad if they live bad lives. A way of capturing this thought is via the claim that it is better the higher the average well-being of these people is, which is the core idea of the average view. This view can be contrasted with the major alternative within population ethics, the total view, according to which it is better the higher the total well-being in the world is. This latter view seems to rhyme badly with the sustainability idea: at least prima facie it seems to speak in favour of increasing the human population, whereas sustainability is usually taken to point in the opposite direction. I show how a version of the average view based on the common sense intuition expressed above, and informed by philosophical theorizing about sustainability, can be construed so as to avoid the problems usually taken to be devastating for it.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Kyoto, 2018.
Keywords [en]
sustainability, sustainable development, population ethics, the average view, average well-being, future generations, future people
National Category
Philosophy Ethics
Research subject
Ethics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-155937OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-155937DiVA, id: diva2:1284549
Conference
The 11th International Conference on Applied Ethics - Center for Applied Philosophy & Ethics - Kyoto University, Japan 15th-16th December 2018
Available from: 2019-01-31 Created: 2019-01-31 Last updated: 2019-01-31

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Samuelsson, Lars

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
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  • asciidoc
  • rtf