Journal of Value Inquiry 47 (4):1-21 (2013)

Authors
Aaron Smuts
Rhode Island College
Abstract
I evaluate four historically precedented tests for what makes a life worth living: (1) The Suicide Test (Camus), (2) The Recurrence Test (Schopenhauer and Nietzsche), (3) The Extra Life Test (Cicero and Hume), and (4) The Preferring Not to Have Been Test (Job and Williams). I argue that all four fail and tentatively defend the heuristic value of a fifth, The Pre-Existence Test for what makes a life worth living: (5) A life worth living is one that a benevolent caretaker with foreknowledge would allow. A life worth avoiding is one that a benevolent caretaker would disallow. This test usefully tracks the general extension of the concept of what makes a life worth living. I consider three objections and note that there appears to be an indeterminate middle category of lives worth neither. Ultimately, I argue that any plausible test will risk circularity or will require a theory of worth to be viable.
Keywords a life worth living  welfare  value of lives  worthwhile  meaning of life  suicide  recurrence
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Reprint years 2013
DOI 10.1007/s10790-013-9393-x
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References found in this work BETA

The Gay Science.Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche - 1910 - Dover Publications.
Happiness and Meaning: Two Aspects of the Good Life.Susan Wolf - 1997 - Social Philosophy and Policy 14 (1):207.
Happiness and Meaning: Two Aspects of the Good Life.Susan Wolf - 1997 - Social Philosophy and Policy 14 (1):207-225.
Desire and the Human Good.Richard Kraut - 1994 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 68 (2):315.
Games and the Good.Thomas Hurka - 2006 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 106 (1):217-235.

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Citations of this work BETA

Totalism Without Repugnance.Jacob M. Nebel - 2022 - In Jeff McMahan, Tim Campbell, James Goodrich & Ketan Ramakrishnan (eds.), Ethics and Existence: The Legacy of Derek Parfit. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 200-231.
Eliminating ‘ Life Worth Living’.Fumagalli Roberto - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (3):769-792.
To Be or Never to Have Been: Anti-Natalism and a Life Worth Living.Aaron Smuts - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (4):711-729.
Incommensurability in Population Ethics.Jacob Nebel - 2015 - Dissertation, University of Oxford
A Portable Defense of the Procreation Asymmetry.Jake Earl - 2017 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (2-3):178-199.

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