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The harmlessness of existence
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy, Ethics and Social Philosophy.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2333-106X
2017 (English)In: Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, ISSN 1386-2820, E-ISSN 1572-8447, p. 1-12Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Can existence benefit or harm a person? I argue that it cannot. In order for existence to harm a person it has to be the case that existence is worse for the person than never existing. This claim could only be true if it is understood as a claim about the actual, extrinsic value of existence for a person. However, understanding harm (and benefit) in terms of actual extrinsic value comes at the cost of depriving benefits and harms of their normative relevance. I show that a person who is guided by promoting actual extrinsic value can face situations where an outcome is extrinsically better for her but where the same outcome would be extrinsically worse for her were it to obtain. A person who is guided by promoting extrinsic value will in such situations not be able to deliberate about what she should do, prudentially or morally. I conclude that extrinsic value is therefore not something we should be guided by when deliberating about what we should do, and that if harm and benefit is understood in terms of extrinsic value, then we should not be guided by these notions either.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Netherlands, 2017. p. 1-12
Keywords [en]
Harm, Benefit, Existence, Extrinsic value
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-364641DOI: 10.1007/s10677-017-9821-2OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-364641DiVA, id: diva2:1259666
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Harm: the concept and its relevanceAvailable from: 2018-10-30 Created: 2018-10-30 Last updated: 2019-02-27Bibliographically approved

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Algander, Per

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