tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3829599.post3903630207359680842..comments2017-02-14T03:56:34.115-08:00Comments on Agoraphilia: Meat-Without-Feet and Animal UtilitarianismGlen Whitmannoreply@blogger.comBlogger3125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3829599.post-4239021201352209542013-09-13T15:07:18.932-07:002013-09-13T15:07:18.932-07:00David Friedman was having trouble posting the foll...David Friedman was having trouble posting the following, so I'm posting it for him: <br /><br />"I'm not sure how I get a pdf--are you suggesting scanning in the article? I've been using a word processor for a long time--but that article was written more than thirty years ago. But I'll be happy to give you an intuitive explanation.<br /><br />The problem is how to compare alternative futures. To start with, imagine they have the same number of people in them. One could avoid various problems with comparing utility by doing a sort of pareto-like comparison.<br /><br />Version 1: Is there a mapping of population A into population B such that every individual in A is mapped into a life in B he prefers to his life in A? If so, B is unambiguously superior.<br /><br />But that isn't likely, so shift to a version with mixing:<br /><br />Version 2: Can we map each individual in A into a lottery among lives in B, such that each individual in A prefers the lottery to his present life, and such that the summed probability over all lotteries mapping into a life in B adds up to one for all lives in B. If so, B is unambiguously superior to A.<br /><br />Version 3: Now let B have more people in it than A. Define zero utility as the suicide point--the point at which someone is indifferent between living and dying. Assume that everyone in B could commit painless suicide if he wants and doesn't, hence can be viewed as having non-negative utility.<br /><br />Map the entire population of A into a subset of B with the same number of people in it as A. Apply version 2 above. If everyone in A can be mapped into a lottery within the subset of B (think of the subset as consisting of the happiest people in B) that each prefers to his life, B is unambiguously superior--it, in effect, contains at least equivalents to all the good lives in A plus some other not bad lives.<br /><br />Suppose no such mapping exists. We now have failed to show that larger population B is superior to smaller A, but it doesn't follow that A is superior to B.<br /><br />Version 4: Construct A+, consisting of A plus enough non-lives--think of them as people who die at birth--to bring the total population up to the population of B. Again apply Version 2, this time mapping every life in B onto a lottery in A+--some probability of being person 1 in A+, some probability of being person 2, ... , some probability of dropping dead. If you can do it in a way that everyone in B prefers to his present life (all of this should really be, a la Pareto, all at least indifferent, at least one prefers) then A is unambiguously superior to B.<br /><br />If neither comparison works, then A and B are incomparable--this is only a partial ordering.<br /><br />Hope that makes it clear."Glen Whitmanhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/01425907466575991113noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3829599.post-66194146480483398772013-08-05T16:20:00.816-07:002013-08-05T16:20:00.816-07:00Thanks, David. BTW, I found that article very dif...Thanks, David. BTW, I found that article very difficult to get a copy of. I couldn't find it anywhere online, and my institution didn't have a copy, so I finally had to do an inter-library loan to find it. So if possible, I'd recommend putting up a PDF on the web. In any case, an intuitive explanation of your proposed solution (preferably with examples) would be much appreciated. I think this is an important and too-neglected topic. Glen Whitmanhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/01425907466575991113noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3829599.post-16350479195102821672013-08-05T15:58:54.381-07:002013-08-05T15:58:54.381-07:00For anyone who is curious, my discussion of the is...For anyone who is curious, my discussion of the issue is in:<br /><br />"What Does Optimum Population Mean?" Research in Population Economics, Vol. III (1981), Eds. Simon and Lindert.David Friedmanhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/06543763515095867595noreply@blogger.com