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.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The author disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Funding for the research for this article was provided by Israel Science Foundation grant # 169/19.
© The Author(s) 2023.
- Michael Otsuka
- population ethics
- shortfall complaints