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Does the rejection of wrongful life claims rely on a conceptual error?
  1. Paul Mũtuanyingĩ Mũrĩithi
  1. Correspondence to Paul Mũtuanyingĩ Mũrĩithi, CESP/iSEI/School of Law, University of Manchester, Williamson Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK; paul.muriithi{at}


There are four major arguments raised against wrongful life claims: first, that it is impossible to establish harm in wrongful life claims; second, that wrongful life claims are illogical or incoherent; third, that life is inviolable and sacred no matter the quality; and fourth, that there are no rights and duties towards non-existent persons. In this paper, I will examine and evaluate critically the first two arguments. I will reject these objections against wrongful life claims and demonstrate that they rely on a conceptual error/mistake. In doing so, I will reject the logic of comparing existence with non-existence in wrongful life claims. Instead, I will maintain that recognition of the infant's cause of action and recognition of the infant's harmed condition need not imply any preference for non-existence over existence, and it need not to be so severe as to make life not worth living. I will conclude by briefly giving an account of what seems to me to be the right conception of what it is to be harmed.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.

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