The Repugnant Conclusion: A Philosophical Inquiry, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Repugnant Conclusion

A Philosophical Inquiry, 1st Edition

By Christopher Cowie


112 pages

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Hardback: 9781138605442
pub: 2019-12-11
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The Repugnant Conclusion is a controversial theorem about population size. It states that a sufficiently large population of lives that are barely worth living is better than a smaller population of high quality lives. This is highly counter-intuitive. It implies that we can improve the world by trading quality of life for quantity of lives. Can it be defended?

Christopher Cowie explores these questions and unpacks the controversies surrounding the Repugnant Conclusion. He focuses on whether the truth of the Repugnant Conclusion turns - as some have claimed - on the uncomfortable claim that many people’s lives are actually bad for them and that even privileged people lead lives that are only just worth living.

Highly recommended for those interested in ethics, applied ethics and population studies The Repugnant Conclusion will also be of interest to those in related disciplines such as economics, development studies, politics and international relations.

Table of Contents


2. The Repugnant Conclusion

2.1. Totalist Reasoning

2.2. Alternatives to Totalism

2.3. Continuum Reasoning

2.4. Dominance-Addition Reasoning

2.5. Conclusion

3. The Quality of Life Strategy

3.1. The Quality of Life Strategy

3.2. Formulating the Strategy

3.3. Further Issues with Quality of Life

3.4. Trading-Off

3.5. The Value of Ordinary Life

3.6. Conclusion

4. Assessing the Strategy

4.1. The Very Repugnant Conclusion

4.2. The Reverse Repugnant Conclusion

4.3. A Solution?

4.4. Conclusion

5. Conclusion.


About the Author

Christopher Cowie is Assistant Professor in Philosophy at the University of Durham, UK. He is author of Morality and Epistemic Judgment: The Argument from Analogy (2019), and co-editor of Companions in Guilt Arguments in Metaethics, also published by Routledge.

About the Series

Routledge Focus on Philosophy

Routledge Focus on Philosophy is an exciting and innovative new series, capturing and disseminating some of the best and most exciting new research in philosophy in short book form. Peer reviewed and at a maximum of fifty thousand words shorter than the typical research monograph, Routledge Focus on Philosophy titles are available in both ebook and print on demand format. Tackling big topics in a digestible format the series opens up important philosophical research for a wider audience, and as such is invaluable reading for the scholar, researcher and student seeking to keep their finger on the pulse of the discipline. The series also reflects the growing interdisciplinarity within philosophy and will be of interest to those in related disciplines across the humanities and social sciences.

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