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Better Never to Have BeenThe Harm of Coming into Existence$
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David Benatar

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199296422

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199296422.001.0001

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Why Coming into Existence is Always a Harm

Why Coming into Existence is Always a Harm

Chapter:
(p.18) 2 Why Coming into Existence is Always a Harm
Source:
Better Never to Have Been
Author(s):

David Benatar (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199296422.003.0002

Engaging the non-identity problem, this chapter begins by showing that it is possible to be harmed by being brought into existence. In the process, a distinction is drawn between two quality of life judgements — ‘a life worth starting’ and ‘a life worth continuing’. The chapter argues that coming into existence is always a harm. An asymmetry between pleasure and pain (and between benefit and harm more generally) is described and defended. Although the good things in one's life make one's life go better than it otherwise would have gone, one could not have been deprived by their absence if one had not existed. However, by coming into existence one does suffer harm.

Keywords:   non-identity, quality of life, asymmetry, pleasure, pain, benefit

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