Philosophy Research Seminar - The Insignificance of Value Additivity
Campbell Brown (LSE)
Cotham House G2
The question of 'value additivity' - that is, whether the value of a whole must equal the sum of the values of its parts - is widely thought to have significant implications in ethics. For example, additivity rules out "organic unities," and supports arguments of a certain common form, known as "contrast arguments." However, as argued in this paper, additivity is really a non-issue.
It has no substantive implications, and whether one adopts a view of value that is additive or not is merely a matter of taste. Additivity properly defined does not in any way constrain one's assignments of values to wholes. Yet it is only the values of wholes that ultimately matter. At least this is so when the "bearers" of value are propositions; the case of other bearers, especially material objects, may be different.