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Christoph Fehige proposed antifrustrationism, according to which a frustrated preference is bad, but the existence of a satisfied preference is not better than if the preference didn’t exist in the first place.1 In Fehige’s words,

We don’t do any good by creating satisfied extra preferences. What matters about preferences is not that they have a satisfied existence, but that they don’t have a frustrated existence.2

Several authors have objected to antifrustrationism. How could a proponent of antifrustrationism respond to these objections? If you are interested in doing research in this area, please contact us since we have unpublished material on related topics.

Priority: 8/10

Critiques of antifrustrationism

  • Arrhenius, Gustaf. “Future Generations: A Challenge for Moral Theory.” PhD diss., Uppsala University, 2000. Ungated.
  • Arrhenius, Gustaf, Jesper Ryberg, and Torbjörn Tännsjö. “The Repugnant Conclusion”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition), edited by Edward N. Zalta. Ungated.
  • Danielsson, Sven. “Between the Repugnant and the Gloomy? Some Preferentialisms.” In Odds and Ends, edited by Sten Lindström, Rysiek Sliwinski, and Jan Österberg. Uppsala, 1996.
  • Holtug, Nils. “On the Value of Coming into Existence." The Journal of Ethics 5 (2001): 361–84. See page 383.
  • Kappel, Klemens. “On Frustrationism and Satisfactionism.” In Preference and Value, edited by Wlodek Rabinowicz. Lund, 1996.
  • Larock, Marc. “Possible Preferences and the Harm of Existence.” MPhil thesis, University of St. Andrews, 2009. Ungated. See pages 18–23.
  • Ryberg, Jesper. “Is the Repugnant Conclusion Repugnant?” Philosophical Papers 25 (1996): 161–77. See pages 165–66.
  • Wolf, Clark. “Person-Affecting Utilitarianism and Population Policy; Or, Sissy Jupe's Theory of Social Choice.” In Contingent Future Persons, edited by Nick Fotion and Jan C. Heller, 99–122. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1997. Ungated.

Out of these critiques, the most interesting ones are provided by Arrhenius in “Future Generations,” Ryberg, Danielsson, and Holtug. There are possibly other critiques; see citation searches, for example on Google Scholar for sources that cite Fehige, “A Pareto Principle for Possible People.”

Other related works

  • Karlsen, Dagfinn Sjaastad. “Is God Our Benefactor? An Argument from Suffering.” Journal of Philosophy of Life 3 (2013): 145–67. Ungated. Includes a favorable treatment of antifrustrationism.

Output format

Novel research: Article in a philosophy journal. Title suggestion: “In Defense of Antifrustrationism.”


  1. Fehige, Christoph. “A Pareto Principle for Possible People.” In Preferences, edited by Christoph Fehige and Ulla Wessels, 508–43. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1998. Ungated.  (back)
  2. Ibid., 518.  (back)