The Journal of Ethics

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 37–49

Asymmetries in Benefiting, Harming and Creating


DOI: 10.1007/s10892-012-9134-6

Cite this article as:
Bradley, B. J Ethics (2013) 17: 37. doi:10.1007/s10892-012-9134-6


It is often said that while we have a strong reason not to create someone who will be badly off, we have no strong reason for creating someone who will be well off. In this paper I argue that this asymmetry is incompatible with a plausible principle of independence of irrelevant alternatives, and that a more general asymmetry between harming and benefiting is difficult to defend. I then argue that, contrary to what many have claimed, it is possible to harm or benefit someone by bringing her into existence.


AsymmetryCreationExistenceHarmIndependence of irrelevant alternativesWell-being

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Syracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA