Why the handicapped child case is hard

Philosophical Studies 112 (2):147 - 162 (2003)
This paper discusses the handicapped child case and some other variants of Derek Parfit's non-identityproblem (Parfit, 1984) The case is widely held to show that there is harmless wrongdoing, and that amoral system which tries to reduce wrongdoing directly to harm (``person-affecting morality'')is inadequate.I show that the argument for this does not depend (as some have implied it does) on Kripkean necessity of origin. I distinguish the case from other variants (``wrongful life cases'') of the non-identityproblem which do not bear directly on person-affecting morality as I understand it. And finally, I describe a respect in which the handicapped child case is puzzling and counter-intuitive, even on the supposition that it is a case of harmless wrongdoing. I conclude that the case is ``hard'': it will take more than the rejection of person-affecting morality to remove its puzzling character.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Philosophy of Mind   Philosophy of Religion
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