Journal of Applied Philosophy 30 (2):136-145 (2013)

Authors
Ori Herstein
King's College London
Abstract
Some believe that the harm or benefit of existence is assessed by comparing a person's actual state of wellbeing with the level of wellbeing they would have had had they never existed. This approach relies on ascribing a state or level of wellbeing to ‘nonexistent people’, which seems a peculiar practice: how can we attribute wellbeing to a ‘nonexistent person'? To explain away this oddity, some have argued that because no properties of wellbeing can be attributed to ‘nonexistent people’ such people may be ascribed a neutral or zero level of wellbeing, setting the baseline for comparatively assessing the harm or benefit of coming into existence. However, this line of argumentation conflates the category of having zero wellbeing with the category of having no wellbeing. No Φ, unlike a zero level of Φ, is not comparable to levels of Φ — neutral, positive, or negative. Considering the nature of wellbeing and the fact that ‘nonexistent people’ cannot (metaphysically or conceptually) have wellbeing determinative properties, it follows that ‘nonexistent people’ have no wellbeing rather than zero wellbeing.
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DOI 10.1111/japp.12013
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Comparative Harm, Creation and Death.Neil Feit - 2016 - Utilitas 28 (2):136-163.
The Subject of Harm in Non-Identity Cases.Jens Johansson - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (4):1-15.
The Subject of Harm in Non-Identity Cases.Jens Johansson - 2019 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (4):825-839.

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