David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophical Studies 164 (3):623-641 (2013)
Our ambivalent attitudes toward the notion of ‘a life worth living’ present a philosophical puzzle: Why are we of two minds about the birth of a severely disabled child? Is the child’s life worth living or not worth living? Between these two apparently incompatible evaluative judgments, which is true? If one judgment is true and the other false, what makes us continue to find both evaluations appealing? Indeed, how can we manage to hold these inconsistent judgments simultaneously at all? I critically examine two solutions to this puzzle: the hidden-indexical account and Velleman’s anti-realist account. I propose an alternative explanation which appeals to (a) state-given, as opposed to object-given, reasons for belief and (b) the distinction between belief and acceptance. I argue that (1) the fact that a severely disabled life is not worth living provides object-given reason to believe that that life is not worth living, but (2) after the birth of a severely disabled child, the psychological utility of positive evaluation gives us a state-given reason to believe that that child’s life is worth living, and a reason to accept that, in our relation with the child, her life is worth living. I conclude by drawing a practical lesson about wrongful life suits
|Keywords||Life worth living Wrongful life Hidden-indexical State-given reason Belief Acceptance|
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Derek Parfit (2011). On What Matters. Oxford University Press.
Derek Parfit (1984). Reasons and Persons. Oxford University Press.
Ronald Dworkin (2002). [Book Review] Sovereign Virtue, the Theory and Practice of Equality. [REVIEW] Ethics 112 (2):367-371.
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J. David Velleman (1999). Love as a Moral Emotion. Ethics 109 (2):338-374.
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