The Neutrality of Life

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 101 (3):685-703 (2023)
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Some philosophers think that life is worth living not merely because of the goods and the bads within it, but also because life itself is good. I explain how this idea can be formalized by associating each version of such of a view with a function from length of life to the value generated by life itself. Then I argue that every version of the view that life itself is good faces some version of the following dilemma: either (1) good human lives are worse than very long lives wholly devoid of pleasure, desire-satisfaction, knowledge, or any other goods, or (2) very short lives containing nothing but suffering are worth living. Since neither result is plausible, we ought to reject the view that life itself is good. On the view I favor, any given life may be worth living because of the goods that it contains, but life itself is neutral.

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Andrew Y. Lee
University of Toronto at Scarborough

Citations of this work

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Death.Thomas Nagel - 1970 - Noûs 4 (1):73-80.
Is consciousness intrinsically valuable?Andrew Y. Lee - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (1):1–17.
The Value of Consciousness.Uriah Kriegel - 2019 - Analysis 79 (3):503-520.
In defence of repugnance.Michael Huemer - 2008 - Mind 117 (468):899-933.

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