Possible Preferences and the Harm of Existence

Paper by Marc Larock, published on November 13, 2008 in University of St. Andrews

In his dissertation Larock presents Deprivationalism, which he bases on the common intuition that it is good for a person to acquire a new satisfied preference.

From that it follows that acquiring further additional satisfied preference is always a good thing, because we “have an interest in experiencing as much pleasure and as little pain as possible” (Singer 131) and thus the best state for any preferer would be to “acquire the value of a non-terminating succession of extra satisfied preferences” as Larock calls it.

Basically that means an infinite chain of new and satisfied preferences would be “in every rational preferrer’s interests”.

However according to Larock there are two ways to be harmed: By having an existing preference frustrated or by being deprived of a new satisfied preference.

Since certain eventual death prevents all of us from acquiring said infinite chain of satisfied preferences which would be best for us, Larock concludes that death represents an infinite harm and thus that “existence is worse for all actual persons than non-existence”.

University of St. Andrews 2011