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Title: Past and Possibility: Essays on Value, Justice, Time, and Wasted Potential
Authors: Masny, Michal
Advisors: Frick, Johann
Contributors: Philosophy Department
Keywords: Ethics
Wasted Potential
Subjects: Philosophy
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation consists of five papers which examine relationships between value, justice, time, and wasted potential. In Chapter 1, “Wasted Potential”, I challenge the widely accepted view that how good a life is for a person depends only on what actually happens within it, such as its pleasures, achievements, and loving relationships. Instead, I argue that it also depends on the individual’s potential: what experiences, achievements, and relationships they could have had but perhaps didn’t. In Chapter 2, “The Shape of History”, I consider whether it is better if the history of humanity features a pattern of improvement rather than deterioration, holding other things equal. I argue that it typically is, use a broadly conservative view about value to explain that, and consider the implications of my view for matters related to the future of humanity. In Chapter 3, “Conservatism about Prudential Value”, I argue that we have a distinctive moral reason to preserve certain prudential goods, such as loving relationships and important personal projects, even when a superior replacement is available. I then show how this view illuminates several old and new puzzles about navigating childhood, adulthood, older age, and death. In Chapter 4, “Extension and Replacement”, I develop a novel conservative account of when and why it is better to extend the length of a happy life rather than to create a new happy life, even if the total welfare is the same in both cases. I then show how this account also applies to the choice between extension and replacement with respect to non-human animals and humanity as a whole. In Chapter 5, “Healthspan Extension, Completeness of Life, and Justice”, I argue that justice requires that we provide people with sufficient opportunities to have a ‘complete life’, that many people currently lack such opportunities, and that unconditional access to anti-ageing technology would substantially improve the status quo.
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Philosophy

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