What Matters In Our Survival: Distinctions, Compromises and Limits
Unger (Peter)
Source: Unger - Identity, Consciousness and Value, Chapter 7
Paper - Abstract

Paper StatisticsBooks / Papers Citing this PaperNotes Citing this PaperColour-ConventionsDisclaimer

Extract from Overview1

  1. Drawing on material from the first six chapters, in the last three the focus is on some main questions of our broad ego-centric values: As argued in chapter 7, by itself my survival has no value.
  2. Rather, it is a pre-condition of certain things that I (rationally) value, like my leading a long happy life. Equally, my survival is a pre-condition of certain things that I (rationally) disvalue, like my being severely tortured for the next ten years.
  3. Similarly, my son's survival is a pre-condition of certain of my other broad ego-centric values, like his leading a long happy life.
  4. Partly owing to confusions about all this, and partly owing to confusions over various uses of expressions like "what matters2 in survival," strange views have recently dominated the discussion about the relation between (strict) survival and our values.
  5. Against these views, I argue for a realistic compromise view of what matters3
    • (1) In the relevant prudential use of the term, "what matters4," what matters5 in a given person's survival basically is only that the person himself will still exist.
    • (2) Also, certain continuities do matter, but they matter only derivatively.
    • (3) Now, as happens in the middle of certain physically well-based spectra of examples, these continuities may have great independent importance: Regarding what matters6, some of these cases of non-survival are "pretty nearly as good as" cases of strict survival itself.
    • (4) But, this derivative independent importance will never be as great as that basic importance: Concerning what matters7 in survival, any case that lacks strict survival will be worse than every case in which the person himself does survive.
  6. Closing with an argument from a spectrum of assimilation, the case for this view is multi-faceted.
  1. Survival as a Precondition of Broad Ego-centric Value – 212
  2. The Spectrum of Congenial Decomposition with Reconstruction – 217
  3. Three Shots at Survival: Easily Getting Through, Barely Getting Through and Barely Missing – 219
  4. The Prudential Use of "What Matters8," Tests for What Matters9 and Highly Prudential Occasions – 223
  5. How Presumptive Tests for Survival Beliefs May Be Improved – 230
  6. Basic, Derivative and Independent Value – 234
  7. Underlying Realities and Conventional Separations – 238
  8. Striking a Compromise Between Two Conflicting Concerns – 240
  9. Moderating Concern Throughout a Middle Ground – 242
  10. Restricted Ranges for the Relevance of Underlying Realities – 244
  11. What Matters10 and the Minimal Conception of a Person – 247
  12. A Spectrum of Assimilation: Parallels, Differences and Questions – 251

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Taken from "Unger (Peter) - Precis of 'Identity, Consciousness and Value'".

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

© Theo Todman, June 2007 - Jan 2020. Please address any comments on this page to theo@theotodman.com. File output:
Website Maintenance Dashboard
Return to Top of this Page Return to Theo Todman's Philosophy Page Return to Theo Todman's Home Page