To be (disadvantaged) or not to be? An egalitarian guide for creating new people

Shlomi Segall*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Derek Parfit held that in evaluating the future, we should ignore the difference between necessary persons and merely possible persons. In this article, I look at one of the most prominent alternatives to Parfit's view, namely Michael Otsuka and Larry Temkin ‘shortfall complaints’ view. In that view, we aggregate future persons’ well-being and deduct intrapersonal shortfall complaints, giving extra weight to the complaints of necessary persons. I offer here a third view. I reject Parfit's no difference view in that I register a difference between necessary and possible persons. But I also reject the Shortfall View and replace its intra-personal complaints with an inter-personal complaints mechanism. I argue that the value of a population is its aggregate prioritarian value minus the egalitarian complaints that necessary persons hold. I show that the egalitarian view has all the explanatory power of the Shortfall view in easy cases, while significantly improving on it in three sorts of tough cases.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)154-180
Number of pages27
JournalPolitics, Philosophy and Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.


  • Michael Otsuka
  • egalitarianism
  • population ethics
  • prioritarianism
  • shortfall complaints


Dive into the research topics of 'To be (disadvantaged) or not to be? An egalitarian guide for creating new people'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this