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Ethics and ExistenceThe Legacy of Derek Parfit$
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Jeff McMahan, Tim Campbell, James Goodrich, and Ketan Ramakrishnan

Print publication date: 2022

Print ISBN-13: 9780192894250

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780192894250.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 30 June 2022

On Evaluative Imprecision

On Evaluative Imprecision

(p.478) 17 On Evaluative Imprecision
Ethics and Existence

Teruji Thomas

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents several arguments related to Parfit’s notion of evaluative imprecision and his imprecisionist lexical view of population ethics. After sketching Parfit’s view, it argues that, contrary to Parfit, imprecision and lexicality are both compatible with thinking about goodness in terms of positions on a scale of value. Then, by examining the role that imprecision is meant to play in defusing spectrum argument, it suggests that imprecision should be identified with vagueness. Next, it argues that there is space for robust moral realists to think of evaluative vagueness as a semantic phenomenon, illustrating this view with a version of conceptual role semantics on which the precisifications of betterness are correctness conditions for the precisifications of preference. Finally, it gives a probability-based argument against the imprecisionist lexical view.

Keywords:   Derek Parfit, population ethics, spectrum arguments, Imprecisionist Lexical View, moral vagueness, moral realism, conceptual role semantics, vague preference

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