Natural Separateness: Why Parfit's Reductionist Account of Persons Fails to Support Consequentialism

Journal of Moral Philosophy 6 (2):178-195 (2009)
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Abstract

My goal in this essay will be to show, contra Parfit, that the separateness of human persons—although metaphysically shallow—has a moral significance that should not be overlooked. Parfit holds that his reductionist view of personal identity lends support to consequentialism; I reject this claim because it rests on the assumption that the separateness of human persons has an arbitrariness that renders it morally insignificant. This assumption is flawed because this separateness is grounded in our 'person practices', which reflect some of the morally relevant aspects of our nature: if we imagine a species of person whose members are not naturally separate from each other, it is reasonable to suppose that the morality of this different species of person would be drastically different from human morality. Thus, if consequentialists aim to offer a human moral theory, they overlook the separateness of human persons with peril

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