The Journal of Ethics

, Volume 17, Issue 1–2, pp 51–64 | Cite as

Past and Future Non-Existence



According to the “deprivation approach,” a person’s death is bad for her to the extent that it deprives her of goods. This approach faces the Lucretian problem that prenatal non-existence deprives us of goods just as much as death does, but does not seem bad at all. The two most prominent responses to this challenge—one of which is provided by Frederik Kaufman (inspired by Thomas Nagel) and the other by Anthony Brueckner and John Martin Fischer—claim that prenatal non-existence is relevantly different from death. This paper criticizes these responses.


Bias towards the future Evil of death Deprivation approach Prenatal non-existence Symmetry argument 



Many thanks to audiences at Lund University, the University of Gothenburg, and Uppsala University for their helpful comments on a distant ancestor of this paper.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Uppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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