The Ever Conscious View and the Contingency of Moral Status

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


It is common to think that if something has moral status, then, necessarily, it has moral status. This chapter argues for a view of moral status, the Ever Conscious View, which holds that a living being has moral status throughout its life just in case it is ever conscious, at any point in its life. Moral status is contingent: some beings that have moral status might have lacked moral status, and some beings that lack moral status might have had moral status. The author explains and addresses the Objection to Contingency; it can be answered by recognition of the Good Method of finding our harm-based and benefit-based moral reasons. We should embrace the Good Method for reasons wholly independent of the Ever Conscious View; so, a defense of the Ever Conscious View using the Good Method is a principled defense. She also defends the Good Method in the face of an objection from “The Asymmetry, " according to which we have reasons not to create miserable people, but we have no reasons to create happy people; she responds that we do have reasons to create happy people, but there is nothing at all wrong with failing to do so.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRethinking Moral Status
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780192894076
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • abortion
  • conscious
  • contingent
  • harm
  • love
  • moral status
  • the asymmetry


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