Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 January 2022
Having prudential interests is a matter of possessing features, such as the ability to feel pain and pleasure, by which an organism can be concerned about itself. Some organisms lack such features. Sponges have no welfare apparatus; they are unresponsive. A responsive organism may acquire things that are intrinsically good or bad for it. These determine its welfare level, whether over a brief interval of time or over a lifetime, which, in turn, determines whether something is overall good or bad for it. An event or state of affairs E is overall good (bad) for us just if, and to the extent that, the intrinsic value for us of the actual world, in which E occurs, is higher (lower) than that of the closest world in which E does not occur. If the intrinsic value for me of a world w equals my lifetime welfare level in w, then coming into existence, and coming to be responsive, was neither good nor bad for me. If we assume that the intrinsic value for me of a world in which I am unresponsive is 0, then it was good for me to come into existence and to become responsive.