[SydPhil] Hilary Greaves Talk/Abstract

Brian Hedden brian.hedden at sydney.edu.au
Wed Aug 12 08:47:04 AEST 2015

Hi all,

Here is the title and abstract for Hilary Greaves' talk today at 1pm in the Muniment Room:

Title: 'Comparing existence and nonexistence'


Population axiology is the theory of when one state of affairs is better (overall) than another, where the states of affairs in question may differ over the number of people who (ever) live. This is a notoriously controversial and uncertainty-ridden area of ethics. In the debates between rival population axiologies, one key choice point is whether or not one accepts 'Existence Comparativism': roughly, the thesis that state of affairs A can be better (or worse) *for a particular person* than state of affairs B even if the person in question does not exist in B. Currently, most theorists reject Existence Comparativism, as a result of an argument due to John Broome that I will call the 'Incoherence Argument'. This talk explores two new ways to resist the Incoherence Argument: one appealing to a general puzzle concerning negative existentials, and one by theorising in terms of a non-standard but independently motivated framework that takes possible lives, rather than possible persons, to be fundamental.
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