Comparative Harm, Creation and Death

Utilitas 28 (2):136-163 (2016)
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Abstract

Given that a person's death is bad for her, when is it bad? I defend subsequentism, the view that things that are bad in the relevant way are bad after they occur. Some have objected to this view on the grounds that it requires us to compare the amount of well-being the victim would have enjoyed, had she not died, with the amount she receives while dead; however, we cannot assign any level of well-being, not even zero, to a dead person. In the population ethics literature, many philosophers have argued along similar lines that bringing someone into existence can neither harm nor benefit her. Working within the comparative framework, I respond by proposing a good sense in which we can say that dead people, and actual people at alternatives in which they do not exist, have a well-being level of zero

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Neil Feit
Fredonia State University

Citations of this work

A Simple Analysis of Harm.Jens Johansson & Olle Risberg - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
Harming as Making Worse Off.Duncan Purves - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (10):2629-2656.
Causal Accounts of Harming.Erik Carlson, Jens Johansson & Olle Risberg - 2022 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 103 (2):420-445.
A Dilemma for Epicureanism.Travis Timmerman - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (1):241-257.
When Good Things Happen to Harmed People.Molly Gardner - 2019 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (4):893-908.

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
Actualism and Thisness.Robert Merrihew Adams - 1981 - Synthese 49 (1):3-41.
Some Puzzles About the Evil of Death.Fred Feldman - 1991 - Philosophical Review 100 (2):205-227.
The Misfortunes of the Dead.George Pitcher - 1984 - American Philosophical Quarterly 21 (2):183 - 188.

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