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Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 711–729 | Cite as

To Be or Never to Have Been: Anti-Natalism and a Life Worth Living

  • Aaron SmutsEmail author
Article

Abstract

David Benatar argues that being brought into existence is always a net harm and never a benefit. I disagree. I argue that if you bring someone into existence who lives a life worth living (LWL), then you have not all things considered wronged her. Lives are worth living if they are high in various objective goods and low in objective bads. These lives constitute a net benefit. In contrast, lives worth avoiding (LWA) constitute a net harm. Lives worth avoiding are net high in objective bads and low in objective goods. It is the prospect of a LWA that gives us good reason to not bring someone into existence. Happily, many lives are not worth avoiding. Contra Benatar, many are indeed worth living. Even if we grant Benatar his controversial asymmetry thesis, we have no reason to think that coming into existence is always a net harm.

Keywords

Anti-natalism Pessimism Welfare Worth of a life Meaning of life David Benatar 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyRhode Island CollegeProvidenceUSA

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