The Moral Argument Against Footnotes and PDF

Once upon a time, I loved footnotes and PDF documents. Now I don’t. I prefer eBook format and endnotes. I admit that footnotes are handy sometimes. For example, when I read visually, it’s nice to have the notes on the same page as the body text. However, footnotes are not so handy for auditory reading. Neither are PDF documents. For instance, footnotes wreak havoc on auditory reading. They interrupt the audio stream of the main body of text — sometimes mid-sentence. And since many people have to rely on auditory reading to consume academic research, this means that PDF documents and footnotes decrease the accessibility of research. That’s bad. If we can avoid this bad, we should. And we can avoid it. So we should.

1.  Books vs. Articles

Sometimes academic books are available in an eBook version that is amenable to auditory reading — e.g., Amazon’s Kindle format and Apple’s iBook format. And some academic books have a proper audiobook version — e..g, Amazon’s audiobooks. This is great, but… Continue reading The Moral Argument Against Footnotes and PDF

Existence vs Non-existence: Is One Better Than The Other?

Existence vs. Non-existence. That is the question.

David Benatar’s chapter “Why Coming Into Existence is Always a Harm” from his book Better Never To Have Been (2006) is a delightfully clever way of addressing this question. It challenges our intuitions and escapes our initial objections.1 But upon reflection, I find myself unconvinced. Here’s why: the argument relies on the assumption that existence and non-existence are commensurable. In other words, Benatar’s argument requires us to countenance the possibility that non-existent states of affairs can be better off or worse off than existing states of affairs. In what follows, I will explain why I find this unsatisfactory. But before I do that, I will need to say a bit about Benatar’s argument.

Continue reading Existence vs Non-existence: Is One Better Than The Other?