Climate Change and Non-Identity

Utilitas 34 (1):84-96 (2022)
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What is the practical relevance of the Non-Identity Problem (NIP) for our climate change-related duties? Climate change and the NIP are often discussed together, but there is surprisingly little work on the practical relevance of the NIP for the ethics of climate change. The central claim of this article is that the NIP makes a relatively minor difference to our climate change-related duties even if we pursue what has become known as the ‘bite the bullet’ strategy: endorse a person-affecting view threatened by the NIP and not modify it in such a way as to evade the NIP. In particular I will argue that a harm-based view can justify the big-picture call for action emerging from the field of climate ethics. The key to reaching this conclusion is pointing out the consequences of our climate change-related decisions for people whose existence does not depend on these very decisions.



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Circumventing the Non-identity Problem.Brian Carey - forthcoming - Philosophia:1-16.

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Can we harm and benefit in creating?Elizabeth Harman - 2004 - Philosophical Perspectives 18 (1):89–113.
An impossibility theorem for welfarist axiologies.Gustaf Arrhenius - 2000 - Economics and Philosophy 16 (2):247-266.
The impotence of the demandingness objection.David Sobel - 2007 - Philosophers' Imprint 7:1-17.

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