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This is from the book named Justice by Michael Sandel. I would like to know the meaning of "much less regard" and the meaning of the sentence (the second part of the sentence). How can we rewrite it simply?

If some pleasures are worthy and others are low, why should society weigh all preferences equally, much less regard the sum of such preferences as the greatest good?

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    Regard is a verb.
    – Greybeard
    Jan 17 at 20:47
  • "Much less" is something of an idiom, which would have pretty much the same meaning in "much less eat breakfast". "Regard" is, as stated, a verb.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 17 at 21:08
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    "Much less" or "still less" can be used to say that a second, greater thing is even less true, likely, or possible than a first thing. These people can scarcely afford to buy food, still less luxury goods like perfume. Mary said "I wouldn't even speak to him, much less go on a date with him!" Jan 17 at 21:41
  • Not sure why this got migrated from ELU. It's a question about a standard usage of the English language, not specific to literature. I was about to flag for migration to ELU when I noticed it originated there.
    – shoover
    Jan 20 at 19:14
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    @shoover We discussed it in Literature chat after it was downvoted and closed on ELU. Since it's about meaning in context, I thought it'd work here if ELU doesn't want it.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 20 at 22:28
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In this sentence, "regard" is a verb. One might rephrase the sentence as follows:

If some pleasures are worthy and others are low, why should society weigh all preferences equally, let alone regard the sum of such preferences as the greatest good?

If we transform the question into a declarative sentence (and reword it a bit), we get the following:

If some pleasures are worthy and others are low,

  • [then] society should not weigh all preferences equally,
  • and it should certainly not regard the sum of such preferences as the greatest good.

Dictionary references:

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