Avoiding the Asymmetry Problem

Ratio 31 (1):88-102 (2018)

Authors
Travis Timmerman
Seton Hall University
Abstract
If earlier-than-necessary death is bad because it deprives individuals of additional good life, then why isn't later-than-necessary conception bad for the same reason? Deprivationists have argued that prenatal non-existence is not bad because it is impossible to be conceived earlier, but postmortem non-existence is bad because it is possible to live longer. Call this the Impossibility Solution. In this paper, I demonstrate that the Impossibility Solution does not work by showing how it is possible to be conceived earlier in the same senses it is possible to live longer. I then offer a solution to the Asymmetry Problem by suggesting a novel way to separate the badness of each type of non-existence from the type, and frequency, of attitudes we should have towards each type of non-existence. Even if both types of non-existence are equally bad, certain contingent facts about our postmortem non-existence provide reason for the badness of early deaths to be more frequently salient than the badness of late conceptions.
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DOI 10.1111/rati.12159
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References found in this work BETA

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
Well-Being and Death.Ben Bradley - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
Death.Thomas Nagel - 1970 - Noûs 4 (1):73-80.
Against Time Bias.Preston Greene & Meghan Sullivan - 2015 - Ethics 125 (4):947-970.
Plural Harm.Neil Feit - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 90 (2):361-388.

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Citations of this work BETA

Doomsday Needn’T Be So Bad.Travis Timmerman - 2018 - Dialectica 72 (2):275-296.
Death, Immortality, and Meaning in Life.John Martin Fischer - 2020 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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