Harming Future Persons: Ethics, Genetics and the Nonidentity Problem

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Melinda A. Roberts, David T. Wasserman
Springer Science & Business Media, Jul 31, 2009 - Philosophy - 335 pages
Melinda A. Roberts and David T. Wasserman 1 Purpose of this Collection What are our obligations with respect to persons who have not yet, and may not ever, come into existence? Few of us believe that we can wrong those whom we leave out of existence altogether—that is, merely possible persons. We may think as well that the directive to be “fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” 1 does not hold up to close scrutiny. How can it be wrong to decline to bring ever more people into existence? At the same time, we think we are clearly ob- gated to treat future persons—persons who don’t yet but will exist—in accordance with certain stringent standards. Bringing a person into an existence that is truly awful—not worth having—can be wrong, and so can bringing a person into an existence that is worth having when we had the alternative of bringing that same person into an existence that is substantially better. We may think as well that our obligations with respect to future persons are triggered well before the point at which those persons commence their existence. We think it would be wrong, for example, to choose today to turn the Earth of the future into a miserable place even if the victims of that choice do not yet exist.

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The Intractability of the Nonidentity Problem
If Bringing a Badly Off Person into Existence is Wrong is Not Bringing a Well Off Person into Existence Also Wrong?
Rights and the Asymmetry Between Creating Good and Bad Lives
Asymmetries in the Morality of Causing People to Exist
Must an Act Worse for People be Worse for a Particular Person?
Who Cares About Identity?
Do Future Persons Presently Have Alternate Possible Identities?
Rule Consequentialism and Nonidentity
Is the Morality of Parental Reproductive Choice Special? Can Intentions and Attitudes Make an Act that Harms No One Wrong?
Reproduction Partiality and the Nonidentity Problem
Two Varieties of BetterFor Judgements
Harms to Future People and Procreative Intentions
Is the Person Affecting Approach Objectionable Independent of the Nonidentity Problem?
Can the Person Affecting Restriction Solve the Problems in Population Ethics?
What are the Implications of the Nonidentity Problem for Law and Public Policy?
Implications of the Nonidentity Problem for State Regulation of Reproductive Liberty

Is the Argument to No Harm Done Correct? Must an Act that Harms a Person Make that Person Worse Off?
Harming as Causing Harm
Wrongful Life and Procreative Decisions
Harming and Procreating
The Nonidentity Problem and the Two Envelope Problem When is One Act Better for a Person than Another?
Reparations for US Slavery and Justice Over Time
Name Index
Subject Index

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About the author (2009)

Roberts is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Trenton State College

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