I'm sympathetic to the idea that the badness of a death depends upon what would have happened if the person lived rather than died. So, I'm sympathetic to the idea that it's worse for the healthy individual to be struck by a bus and killed than it is for an otherwise similar subject who would have died of a burst aneurysm if he hadn't been struck by a bus and killed. (Keep all else similar.) While I'm sympathetic, I do have a worry.
Damien is pretty good at his job. He's a demon bent in killing the young and the healthy. Alice is an angel who isn't powerful enough to prevent Damien from killing. Still, she wants to make things better. So, she might try to hasten a birth so as to extend life on the front end if she thinks Damien will strike the subject down on some particular date. (Maybe she sees that he's penciled in a trip to Detroit twenty years hence.) I think on some occasions, she might make a death less bad by extending life this way. Does she make a death less bad, however, if she straps a ticking time bomb to Damien's victims set to go off after the time of the death Damien intends for them? Intuitively, I don't think this makes the deaths less bad even if it means that Damien's victims don't lose out on as much as other subjects that are victimized in similar ways. Similarly, I don't think Damien can make his subjects' deaths worse by defusing these bombs so that if his attack on them failed they would have lived long lives.
Just curious if others share this sort of intuition and worry about the idea that the badness of a death is a function of the difference the death made.
One potential problem with the example is that the second potentially fatal sequence only determines the magnitude of the difference made by the first potentially fatal sequence if these processes are independent. My initial hunch is that the worry doesn't turn on constructing examples in which the processes are linked in the way I've described, but that's just a hunch. I do feel the pull of the claim that the badness of a pedestrian's death depends upon how long they would have lived if they hadn't been struck by the bus (and the quality of life that awaited them in the nearest world(s) where the pedestrian isn't struck).