Consider these plausible claims:
- If worlds w_{1} and w_{2} contain the exact same individuals, and each individual in w_{2} is better off than she is in w_{1}, then w_{2} is a more valuable world.
- A world can contain an infinite number of individuals.
- If worlds w_{1} and w_{2} differ only in respect of which particular individuals exist in them, and perhaps some further value-insignificant respects, if an identity of indiscernibles principle requires it, then w_{1} and w_{2} are equal in value.
- If worlds w_{1} and w_{2} differ only in respect of w_{1} lacking one individual that exists in w_{2} and that has a good life in w_{2}, and perhaps in some value-insignificant way, then w_{2} is more valuable than w_{1}.
- If a and b are equally valuable, then c more (less) valuable than b if and only if c is more (less) valuable than a.
- Being more valuable than is transitive.
- Nothing is more valuable than itself.
- w_{1}: God plus an infinite sequence of spatiotemporally disconnected individuals x_{1}, x_{2}, ... who are almost exactly alike, differing only in that x_{i} enjoys on balance flourishing of value i (plus any other insignificant differences needed to avoid violation of the identity of indiscernibles)
- w_{2}: just like w_{1}, except that the individuals are all different: y_{1}, y_{2}, ...
- w_{3}: just like w_{2}, except that y_{i} now enjoys on balance flourishing of value i+1, for all i
- w_{4}: just like w_{3}, except that in the place of y_{i} we have x_{i+1}, for all i
I think the controversial assumptions are (2) and (3). It's really hard to deny (1), (4), (5), (6) or (7). So, either there can't be an actual infinity or (3) is false. Now, the falsity of (3) would imply a really radical form of incommensurability: situations that are exactly alike except for the particular identities of the individuals involved (and whatever identity of indiscernibles further requires) can differ in value.
I want to hold on to (2). Plainly a world can have an infinite future containing an infinite number of individuals. So I reject (3), and thus accept the radical incommensurability claim above.
And I think the incommensurability claim is independently plausible.
6 comments:
Maybe this will be a dumb question, but isn't there a tension between premise 1 and 3? You say that w1 and w2 contain the exact same individuals, but in premise 3 you state that w1 and w2 differs from each other because of the individuals they contain.
Premise1: A and B are identical.
Premise2: A and B differ from eachother.
I mean each of the premises to hold individually for any worlds. So don't assume that the w1 and w2 in premise 1 are the same w1 and w2 in premise 3.
Okay, I think I get that now. What about premise 6? Being what? What is being uhm more than transitive? I'm having tremendous difficulty in making sense of that sentence.
The relation of being-more-valuable-than is transitive. Does that help?
Yup now the sentence makes sense to me. :)
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