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Nothing Matters in Survival

Stuart Rachels and Torin Alter
The Journal of Ethics
Vol. 9, No. 3/4, Devoted to James Rachels (2005), pp. 311-330
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25115830
Page Count: 20
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Nothing Matters in Survival
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Abstract

Do I have a special reason to care about my future, as opposed to yours? We reject the common belief that I do. Putting our thesis paradoxically, we say that nothing matters in survival: nothing in our continued existence justifies any special self-concern. Such an "extreme" view is standardly tied to ideas about the metaphysics of persons, but not by us. After rejecting various arguments against our thesis, we conclude that simplicity decides in its favor. Throughout the essay we honor Jim Rachels, whose final days exemplified his own unselfish morality as well as the "neutralist" ideal we espouse. As an appendix, we include the last original work to be published by James Rachels, in which he criticizes Sidgwick's most famous defense of egoism.

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