David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophical Perspectives 18 (1):89–113 (2004)
The non-identity problem concerns actions that affect who exists in the future. If such an action is performed, certain people will exist in the future who would not otherwise have existed: they are not identical to any of the people who would have existed if the action had not been performed. Some of these actions seem to be wrong, and they seem to be wrong in virtue of harming the very future individuals whose existence is dependent on their having been performed. The problem arises when it is argued that the actions do not harm these people—because the actions do not make them worse off than they would otherwise be.1 Consider: Radioactive Waste Policy: We are trying to decide whether to adopt a permissive radioactive waste policy. This policy would be less inconvenient to us than our existing practices. If we enact the newly-proposed policy, then we will cause there to be radioactive pollution that will cause illness and suffering. However, the policy will have such significant effects on public policy and industry functioning, that different people will exist in the future depending on whether we enact the policy. Two things should be emphasized. First, the illness and suffering caused will be very serious: deformed babies, children with burns from acid rain, and adults dying young from cancer. Second, the policy will affect who will exist in the future because our present practices invade people’s everyday lives, for example by affecting recycling practices in the home; these practices will change if the policy is adopted. Furthermore, whether we adopt the policy will determine which plants are built where, what jobs are available, and what trucks are on the road. These effects will create small differences in everyone’s lives which ultimately affect who meets whom and who conceives with whom, or at least when people conceive. This affects who exists in the future.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Derek Parfit (1984). Reasons and Persons. Oxford University Press.
Seana Valentine Shiffrin (1999). Wrongful Life, Procreative Responsibility, and the Significance of Harm. Legal Theory 5 (2):117-148.
Gregory S. Kavka (1982). The Paradox of Future Individuals. Philosophy and Public Affairs 11 (2):93-112.
James Woodward (1986). The Non-Identity Problem. Ethics 96 (4):804-831.
Elizabeth Harman (2003). The Potentiality Problem. Philosophical Studies 114 (1-2):173 - 198.
Citations of this work BETA
Clare Palmer (2011). Animal Disenhancement and the Non-Identity Problem: A Response to Thompson. [REVIEW] NanoEthics 5 (1):43-48.
Jeffrey M. Brown (2016). Is Disability a Neutral Condition? Journal of Social Philosophy 47 (2):188-210.
Jeff McMahan (2013). Causing People to Exist and Saving People's Lives. Journal of Ethics 17 (1-2):5-35.
Elizabeth Barnes (2009). Disability and Adaptive Preference. Philosophical Perspectives 23 (1):1-22.
Nathan Hanna (2016). Harm: Omission, Preemption, Freedom. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (2):251-73.
Similar books and articles
Rivka Weinberg (2008). Identifying and Dissolving the Non-Identity Problem. Philosophical Studies 137 (1):3 - 18.
Jan Deckers (2011). Negative “GHIs,” the Right to Health Protection, and Future Generations. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 8 (2):165-176.
Krister Bykvist (2007). The Benefits of Coming Into Existence. Philosophical Studies 135 (3):335 - 362.
Kristin Shrader-Frechette (1998). Ethical Theory Versus Unethical Practice: Radiation Protection and Future Generations. Ethics and the Environment 3 (2):177 - 195.
Constantine Hadjilambrinos (2000). An Egalitarian Response to Utilitarian Analysis of Long-Lived Pollution: The Case of High-Level Radioactive Waste. Environmental Ethics 22 (1):43-62.
Peter Wenz (1983). Ethics, Energy Policy, and Future Generations. Environmental Ethics 5 (3):195-209.
Hugh Compston (2008). The Future of Public Policy. World Futures 64 (1):43 – 59.
Walter Glannon (2001). Genes and Future People: Philosophical Issues in Human Genetics. Westview Press.
Ori J. Herstein (2009). The Identity and (Legal) Rights of Future Generations. The George Washington Law Review 77:1173.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads98 ( #46,546 of 1,941,073 )
Recent downloads (6 months)11 ( #88,281 of 1,941,073 )
How can I increase my downloads?