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Saving People from the Harm of Death$
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Espen Gamlund and Carl Tollef Solberg

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190921415

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190921415.001.0001

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The Worseness of Nonexistence

The Worseness of Nonexistence

Chapter:
(p.215) 15 The Worseness of Nonexistence
Source:
Saving People from the Harm of Death
Author(s):

Theron Pummer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190921415.003.0016

Most believe that it is worse for a person to die than to continue to exist with a good life. At the same time, many believe that it is not worse for a merely possible person never to exist than to exist with a good life. I argue that if the underlying properties that make us the sort of thing we essentially are can come in small degrees, then to maintain this commonly held pair of beliefs we will have to embrace an implausible sort of evaluative hypersensitivity to slight nonevaluative differences. Avoidance of such hypersensitivity pressures us to accept that it can be worse for merely possible people never to exist. If this conclusion is correct, then the standard basis for giving no or less priority to merely possible persons would disappear (i.e., that things cannot be better or worse for them). Though defenders of Person-Affecting Views and their opponents may still disagree in theory, they could arrive at the same answers to many monumentally important practical questions.

Keywords:   Comparativism, death, hypersensitivity, indeterminacy, nonexistence, Person-Affecting Views, personal identity, population ethics, Reductionism

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