Headaches, Lives and Value

Utilitas 21 (1):36 (2009)
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University of Alberta Forthcoming in Utilias Consider Lives for Headaches: there is some number of headaches such that the relief of those headaches is sufficient to outweigh the good life of an innocent person. Lives for Headaches is unintuitive, but difficult to deny. The argument leading to Lives for Headaches is valid, and appears to be constructed out of firmly entrenched premises. In this paper, I advocate one way to reject Lives for Headaches; I defend a form of lexical superiority between values. Based on an inquiry into the notion of human well-being, I argue that no amount of headaches is sufficient to outweigh the disvalue of the loss of a good life. Though this view has been thought subject to devastating objections, these objections are not dispositive against the form of value superiority I advance here



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Dale Dorsey
University of Kansas

Citations of this work

Totalism without Repugnance.Jacob M. Nebel - 2022 - In Jeff McMahan, Tim Campbell, James Goodrich & Ketan Ramakrishnan (eds.), Ethics and Existence: The Legacy of Derek Parfit. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 200-231.
Prudence and past selves.Dale Dorsey - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (8):1901-1925.

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References found in this work

Comparing Harms: Headaches and Human Lives.Alastair Norcross - 1997 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 26 (2):135-167.
Egalitarianism.Richard Arneson - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Welfare and the achievement of goals.Simon Keller - 2004 - Philosophical Studies 121 (1):27-41.
Superiority in Value.Gustaf Arrhenius - 2005 - Philosophical Studies 123 (1-2):97-114.

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