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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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How Bad is Coming into Existence?

How Bad is Coming into Existence?

(p.60) 3 How Bad is Coming into Existence?
Better Never to Have Been

David Benatar (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the magnitude of the harm of coming into existence, arguing that it is a very great harm. Drawing on the relevant psychological literature, it is shown that there are a number of well-documented features of human psychology that explain why people systematically overestimate the quality of their lives. These features are ‘pollyannaism’, adaptation (otherwise known as habituation or accommodation), and comparison (with other people's lives). The chapter discusses three well-known views about the quality of life: hedonistic, desire-fulfilment, and objective-list theories. It argues that irrespective of which of these views one chooses, the quality of even the best lives is very bad. The chapter concludes by outlining just how much suffering there is in the world.

Keywords:   pollyannaism, adaptation, habituation, accommodation, comparison, hedonism, desire-fulfilment, objective-list, suffering

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