Why Prevent Human Extinction?


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Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Many of us think human extinction would be a very bad thing, and that we have moral reasons to prevent it. But there is disagreement over what would make extinction so bad, and thus over what grounds these moral reasons. Recently, several theorists have argued that our reasons to prevent extinction stem not just from the value of the welfare of future lives, but also from certain additional values relating to the existence of humanity itself (for example, humanity's “final” value, or the value of humanity in itself). In this paper, I argue against these “additional value” views. Despite their initial appeal, these views will inevitably face conflicts between the additional values to which they appeal, and the value of the welfare of future lives. And, I argue, the views cannot plausibly resolve these conflicts. In contrast, these conflicts do not arise for a rival view, on which our reasons to prevent extinction stem just from the value of the welfare of future lives. I conclude that this gives us reason to prefer the latter view, despite the greater initial plausibility of additional value views.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhilosophy and Phenomenological Research
Early online date1 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 May 2024

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Publisher Copyright: John Wiley and Sons Inc. All rights reserved.


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