Asymmetries in the Value of Existence

Philosophical Perspectives 33 (1):126-145 (2019)
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According to asymmetric comparativism, it is worse for a person to exist with a miserable life than not to exist, but it is not better for a person to exist with a happy life than not to exist. My aim in this paper is to explain how asymmetric comparativism could possibly be true. My account of asymmetric comparativism begins with a different asymmetry, regarding the (dis)value of early death. I offer an account of this early death asymmetry, appealing to the idea of conditional goods, and generalize it to explain how asymmetric comparativism could possibly be true. I also address the objection that asymmetric comparativism has unacceptably antinatalist implications.

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Jake Nebel
Princeton University

Citations of this work

Conservatisms about the Valuable.Jacob M. Nebel - 2021 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 100 (1):180-194.
Parity and Pareto.Brian Hedden - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
Conservatism and justified attachment.Travis Quigley - forthcoming - European Journal of Philosophy.

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Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Modal Logic as Metaphysics.Timothy Williamson - 2013 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Practical Ethics.Peter Singer - 1979 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Susan J. Armstrong & Richard George Botzler.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):323-354.

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