Philosophia 48 (2):557-571 (2020)

Hrishikesh Joshi
Bowling Green State University
Consider a binary afterlife, wherein some people go to Heaven, others to Hell, and nobody goes to both. Would such a system be just? Theodore Sider argues: no. For, any possible criterion of determining where people go will involve treating very similar individuals very differently. Here, I argue that this point has deep and underappreciated implications for moral philosophy. The argument proceeds by analogy: many ethical theories make a sharp and practically significant distinction between persons and non-persons. Yet, just like in the binary afterlife, this involves treating very similar individuals very differently. I propose two ways out. The first is to deny that such theories are strictly speaking true, but to claim that it is practically best if people adopt them. The second is to modify such theories so as to allow for continuous variation in the scope and strength of the moral obligations arising from personhood.
Keywords Personhood  Deontology  Kant  T.M. Scanlon  John Rawls  Moral Status
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-019-00148-7
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References found in this work BETA

Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - New York: Basic Books.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.

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