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Non-Identity Matters, Sometimes

  • JUSTIN WEINBERG (a1)
Abstract

Suppose the only difference between the effects of two actions is to whom they apply: either to parties who would – or would not – exist if the actions were not performed. Is this a morally significant difference? This is one of the central questions raised by the Non-Identity Problem. Derek Parfit answers no, defending what he calls the ‘No-Difference View’. I argue that Parfit is mistaken and that sometimes this difference is morally significant. I do this by formulating a familiar kind of example in a new way. I make use of some findings in social psychology to help deflect counterexamples to my view. I then show how my view withstands Parfit's latest argument in favour of the No-Difference View. I conclude with a brief discussion of some questions my argument raises for consequentialist moral theory.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Elizabeth Harman , ‘Can We Harm and Benefit in Creating?’, Philosophical Perspectives 18 (2004), pp. 89113

Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky , ‘Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk’, Econometrica 47 (1979), pp. 263–92

Stacey Swain , Joshua Alexander and Jonathan M. Weinberg , ‘The Instability of Philosophical Intuitions: Running Hot and Cold on Truetemp’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 76 (2008), pp. 138–55

Molly Gardner and Justin Weinberg , ‘How Lives Measure Up’, Acta Analytica 28 (2013), pp. 3148

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Utilitas
  • ISSN: 0953-8208
  • EISSN: 1741-6183
  • URL: /core/journals/utilitas
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