Harming as causing harm
Graduate studies at Western
|Abstract||In this paper, I will offer a solution to the non-identity problem and defend that solution. The non-identity problem arises because some actions appear to be wrong, and they appear to be wrong in virtue of harming certain people, but those people would not have existed if the actions had not been performed, and those people have lives that are worth living. Such actions are puzzling because they do not make these people worse off than they otherwise would have been; but plausibly, one harms someone only if one makes her worse off. A solution to the non-identity problem would both explain why the actions are wrong and vindicate the appearance that the actions are wrong in virtue of harming the relevant people.1 Consider the following case. A woman has a temporary condition such that if she conceives now, her child will be blind. However, if she waits for three months, she can conceive a child who will not be blind. Clearly, this woman should not conceive now. It would be wrong to conceive now. Furthermore, it seems that if she does conceive now she is harming her future child, and that is why her action is wrong. However, it can be argued that she does not harm her child and thus does not act wrongly. Plausibly, one harms someone only if one makes him worse off than he would otherwise have been. But this woman’s act of conceiving now does not make her child worse off than he would otherwise have been. Had she not performed this action, he would not exist. Furthermore, he has a life worth living. Either he is better off than he..|
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