Annihilation Isn't Bad For You


In The Human Predicament, David Benatar develops and defends the annihilation view, according to which “death is bad in large part because it annihilates the being who dies.” In this paper, I make both a positive and negative argument against the annihilation view. My positive argument consists in showing that the annihilation view generates implausible consequences in cases where one can incur some other (intrinsic) bad to avoid the supposed (intrinsic) bad of annihilation. More precisely, Benatar’s view entails that would be prudent for someone to incur a non-trivial amount of pain in order to avoid being annihilated, even in cases in which the additional life one would live would not be good at all for the person living it. Yet, it seems imprudent to incur any amount of pain to continue living a life that isn’t good for the person living it, so annihilation itself cannot be (intrinsically) bad. Avoiding the implausible consequences I identify requires denying that annihilation is itself bad. My negative argument consists in demonstrating that standard forms of deprivationism can avoid all three of the major problems that Benatar attributes to them without having to posit that annihilation itself is bad.



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Travis Timmerman
Seton Hall University

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Well-being and death.Ben Bradley - 2009 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Death.Thomas Nagel - 1970 - Noûs 4 (1):73-80.
The possibility of parity.Ruth Chang - 2002 - Ethics 112 (4):659-688.

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