Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (2):175-190 (2012)

Anthony Wrigley
Keele University
Non-Identity arguments have a pervasive but sometimes counter-intuitive grip on certain key areas in ethics. As a result, there has been limited success in supporting the alternative view that our choices concerning future generations can be considered harmful on any sort of person-affecting principle. However, as the Non-Identity Problem relies overtly on certain metaphysical assumptions, plausible alternatives to these foundations can substantially undermine the Non-Identity argument itself. In this paper, I show how the pervasive force and nature of Non-Identity arguments rely upon a specific adoption of a theory of modality and identity and how adopting an alternative account of modality can be used to reject many conclusions formed through Non-Identity type arguments. By using Lewis’s counterpart-theoretic account to understand ways we might have been, I outline the basis of a modal account of harm that incorporates a person-affecting aspect. This, in turn, has significant implications for ethical decision-making in areas such as reproductive choice and the welfare of future generations
Keywords Harm  Non-identity problem  Counterparts  Genetic selection
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-011-9280-0
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Citations of this work BETA

Intergenerational Justice.Lukas Meyer - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Nonidentity Problem.Melinda Roberts - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Possible Persons and the Problem of Prenatal Harm.Nicola Jane Williams - 2013 - The Journal of Ethics 17 (4):355-385.
Intergenerational Justice Today.Andre Santos Campos - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (3).

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