The Journal of Ethics

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 361–384

On the Value of Coming into Existence

  • Nils Holtug

DOI: 10.1023/A:1013957425591

Cite this article as:
Holtug, N. The Journal of Ethics (2001) 5: 361. doi:10.1023/A:1013957425591


In this paper I argue that coming into existence can benefit (or harm) aperson. My argument incorporates the comparative claim that existence canbe better (or worse) for a person than never existing. Since these claimsare highly controversial, I consider and reject a number of objectionswhich threaten them. These objections raise various semantic, logical,metaphysical and value-theoretical issues. I then suggest that there is animportant sense in which it can harm (or benefit) a person not to comeinto existence. Again, I consider and reject some objections. Finally, Ibriefly consider what the conclusions reached in this paper imply for ourmoral obligations to possible future people.

betterness relationexistenceidentifiabilitymetaphysicsvalue

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nils Holtug
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen SDenmark