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Being and Betterness


In this article I discuss the question of whether a person's existence can be better (or worse) for him than his non-existence. Recently, Nils Holtug and Melinda A. Roberts have defended an affirmative answer. These defenses, I shall argue, do not succeed. In different ways, Holtug and Roberts have got the metaphysics and axiology wrong. However, I also argue that a person's existence can after all be better (or worse) for him than his non-existence, though for reasons other than those provided by Holtug and Roberts.

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K. Bykvist , ‘The Benefits of Coming into Existence’, Philosophical Studies 135 (2007), pp. 335–62

N. Holtug , ‘On the Value of Coming into Existence’, The Journal of Ethics 5 (2001), pp. 361–84

M. Roberts , ‘Can it Ever Be Better Never to Have Existed At All? Person-Based Consequentialism and a New Repugnant Conclusion’, Journal of Applied Philosophy 20 (2003), pp. 159–85

F. Feldman , ‘Some Puzzles about the Evil of Death’, The Philosophical Review 100 (1991), pp. 205–27, at p. 216

G. Harman , ‘Toward a Theory of Intrinsic Value’, The Journal of Philosophy 64 (1967), pp. 792804

F. Feldman , ‘Basic Intrinsic Value’, Philosophical Studies 99 (2000), pp. 319–46

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  • ISSN: 0953-8208
  • EISSN: 1741-6183
  • URL: /core/journals/utilitas
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