Benatar on the Badness of All Human Lives

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This paper presents a critique of David Benatar’s arguments on the badness of all human lives. I argue that even if Benatar is right that there is an asymmetry between the good and the bad in life so that each “unit” of bad is indeed more effective than each “unit” of good, lives in which there is a lot of good and only little bad are still overall good. Even if there are more unfulfilled than fulfilled desires in life, a distinction should be drawn between desires to fulfill important goals and desires to fulfill trivial ones, and Benatar’s claim is untrue of the former. Benatar’s claim that we cannot really know that the quality of our own lives is good is problematic, but even if it were true, it would not show that we cannot estimate correctly the quality of other people’s lives, which is the point at issue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-345
Number of pages13
JournalPhilosophia (United States)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Nature B.V.


  • Desires
  • Happiness
  • Meaning in life
  • Meaning of life
  • Pessimism
  • Standards
  • Suffering
  • Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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