# a world in which 7 billion of us live in perfect ecstasy

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#### NewAmerica

##### Banned
My grammatical analysis doesn't lead me to the understanding of "a world in which 7 billion of us live in perfect ecstasy." Doesn't our planet simply have 7 billion people right now? Live in perfect ecstasy? Can you see in this short passage how this can be put forth?

Well, the question of this thread is where does "a world with hundreds of billions of people" come from since we have now only 7 billion people on this planet. (If this question is solved, then I think I could understand those questions mentioned above)

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When thinking about maximizing the well-being of a population, are we thinking in terms of total or average well-being? The philosopher Derek Parfit has shown that both bases of calculation lead to troubling paradoxes. If we are concerned only about total welfare, we should prefer a world with hundreds of billions of people whose lives are just barely worth living to a world in which 7 billion of us live in perfect ecstasy. This is the result of Parfit’s famous argument known as “The Repugnant Conclusion.”

-Sam Harris (The Moral Landscape Page 51)

• #### grassy

##### Senior Member
If we are concerned only about total welfare, we should prefer a world with hundreds of billions of people whose lives are just barely worth living to a world in which 7 billion of us live in perfect ecstasy.
It's a hypothetical scenario; a thought experiment.

#### lingobingo

##### Senior Member
It's basically a comparison between the scenarios of a huge population living in misery and a much smaller population living happily.

#### kentix

##### Senior Member
It's a hypothetical, as was mentioned. And it's a math problem. You have to have a unit.

So let's say you have a (made up) unit of happiness. If you, as a person, have one million units of happiness you live in perfect ecstasy.

So the question is, if you are trying to maximize happiness, what's better?

1000 people in perfect ecstasy = 1000 x 1,000,000 = 1,000,000,000 units of happiness

- or -

2,000,000 people living in 1/1000 of perfect ecstasy = 2,000,000 x 1000 = 2,000,000,000 units of happiness

- or even -

4,000,000,000 people with only one unit of happiness = 4,000,000,000 x 1 = 4,000,000,000 units of happiness

The total units of happiness is greater for the last two cases but (especially in the third case) every individual is mostly miserable.

#### suzi br

##### Senior Member
It's a fake maths problen because "happiness" is not a fixed amount. Whether anyone feels "happy" (let alone perfectly ecstatic) or not is often as much to do with their personality and attitude as it is with any merely measurable matters.

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