a1 Philosophy, Florida State University
We reject Moorean holism about value—the view that the value of the whole does not equal the sum of the values of its parts. We propose an alternative aggregative holism according to which the value of a state of affairs is the sum of the values of its constituent states. But these constituents must be evaluated in situ.
We also argue that, in addition to value tout court, there are benefits that can go to individuals—where the value of a state of affairs need not equal the sum of the benefits it supplies. To deny this claim is to deny, among other things, the possibility of even raising distributional concerns, or that of stating egoism in a coherent fashion. And denying these possibilities is implausible. But once benefits are in the picture, there is, pace certain forms of consequentialism, pressure to acknowledge that we can have extra reason to pursue them beyond considerations of the effect of such pursuit on the general good.
We conclude by applying these thoughts to, first, the claim that Pareto-optimality is necessary for maximal value (we argue that this thesis is false); and, second, Parfit's ‘repugnant conclusion’ (we use this conclusion to bolster our claim that value need not be the sum of benefits: if value were always the sum of benefits, the repugnant conclusion would follow; the repugnant conclusion is false; therefore value is not always the sum of benefits).
We thank the other contributors to this volume, its editors, and participants at the 2006 conference on Moral Particularism held in Bled, Slovenia, for helpful comments.