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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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Population and Extinction

Population and Extinction

(p.163) 6 Population and Extinction
Better Never to Have Been

David Benatar (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the implications of the earlier arguments for population and extinction. It is argued that the anti-natal view solves various problems in moral theory about population, including many made famous by Derek Parfit. Anti-natalism is compatible with his Theory X. It solves the non-identity problem, avoids the repugnant conclusion and the mere addition problem, and explains asymmetry. Turning to contractarianism, the chapter shows how anti-natalism is a consequence of maximin in John Rawls' original position. It considers the question whether human extinction, an implication of anti-natalism, may be phased or whether it should come as quickly as possible. Finally, it is argued that the state of human extinction, where it is brought about by failing to produce new people (rather than by killing off existing people), is not bad.

Keywords:   population, Parfit, Theory X, repugnant conclusion, mere-addition, asymmetry, contractarianism, maximin, Rawls, extinction

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