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Gils, A. van

Department of Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy

Limited Aggregation

In this paper, I discuss the Number Problem for critics of aggregation, focussing on T. M. Scanlon’s (1998) Contractualism. The Number Problem is the problem of the apparent impossibility of arguing for saving the greater number in cases where this seems required, without having to accept the sort of utilitarian outweighing that tells us to benefit each member of a very large group of people in a relatively insignificant way rather than to benefit each member of a very small group of people significantly.

I argue that there is a certain form of aggregation open to contractualism, which justifies saving the greater number when this seems required, but does not imply the sort of outweighing deemed implausible. This account of Limited Aggregation is contrasted with Iwao Hirose’s (2015) Formal Aggregation, which can supposedly justify the intuitions of critics of aggregation, such as contractualists. I argue that Formal Aggregation is unacceptable to contractualists because its structure necessarily leads to the sort of outweighing they reject.


Interpersonal Aggregation • Limited Aggregation • Formal Aggregation • Continuity • Broome • Kamm • Hirose • Scanlon • Taurek    

Last modified:01 September 2015 11.59 a.m.