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 relation existence identifiability metaphysics value 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

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

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