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ETHICAL UNTHINKABILITIES AND PHILOSOPHICAL SERIOUSNESS

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Abstract:

Abstract:

This article defends a controversial metaphilosophical thesis: it is not immediately obvious that “the best argument wins” in philosophy. Certain philosophical views, for example, extremely controversial ethical positions, may be intolerable and impossible to take seriously as contributions to ethical discussion, irrespective of their argumentative merits. As a case study of this metaphilosophical issue, the article discusses David Benatar's recent thesis that it is, for everyone, harmful to exist. It is argued that ethical and cultural “unthinkabilities” set limits to philosophical reasoning that even the most insightful arguments cannot transcend.

Keywords: argumentation; death; ethics; existence; life; unthinkabilities

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9973.2009.01614.x

Affiliations: Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, P.O. Box 4 (Fabianinkatu 24), FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland, Email: sami.pihlstrom@helsinki.fi

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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