Utilitarianism and other aggregationist moral theories view the public interest or the general welfare as an aggregate of individual goods. But critics of these theories question whether there is adequate justification for employing the concept of an aggregate social good. How are we supposed to sum up individual interests? Is it even possible to compare the utilities of different people or to assign values to individual utilities that can be added or subtracted? If not, how is the general good to be aggregated? Critics have also raised concerns about the aggregative approach in ethics - concerns about its implications for distributive justice, individual liberty and democratic institutions. The essays in this volume explore these issues and address related questions. Some of them examine specific objections to aggregation, others analyze the very idea of a social good or social welfare. Other essays discuss the application of aggregative principles to particular problems.
1. Aggregation within lives Larry S. Temkin; 2. Utilitarian aggregation Russell Hardin; 3. When, if ever, do we aggregate? And why? Jan Narveson; 4. Two dogmas of deontology: aggregation, rights, and the separateness of persons Alastair Norcross; 5. Is welfare an independent good? Talbot Brewer; 6. Up and down with aggregation Brad Hooker; 7. Aggregation, allocating scarce resources, and the disabled F. M. Kamm; 8. Majorities against utility: implications of the failure of the miracle of aggregation Bryan Caplan; 9. What is it like to be a group? Andrew I. Cohen; 10. On the possibility of nonaggregative priority for the worst off Marc Fleurbaey, Bertil Tungodden and Peter Vallentyne; 11. The interpretation of maximizing utilitarianism Jonathan Riley; 12. Liberty, the higher pleasures, and Mill's missing science of ethnic jokes Elijah Millgram; 13. Benefits, holism, and the aggregation of value David McNaughton and Piers Rawling.