Conventionalism about Persons and the Nonidentity Problem

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 101 (4):954-967 (2023)
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Abstract

ABSTRACT I motivate ‘Origin Conventionalism’—the view that which facts about one’s origins are essential to one’s existence depends partly on our person-directed attitudes. One important upshot is that the view offers a novel and attractive solution to the Nonidentity Problem. That problem typically assumes that the sperm-egg pair from which a person originates is essential to that person’s existence; in which case, for many future persons that come into existence under adverse conditions, had those conditions not been realized, the individuals wouldn’t have existed. This is problematic because it delivers the counter-intuitive conclusion that it’s not wrong to bring about such adverse conditions since they don’t harm anyone. Origin Conventionalism, in contrast, holds that whether a person’s sperm-egg origin is essential to their existence depends on their person-directed attitudes. I argue that this provides a unique and attractive way of preserving the intuition that the actions in the ‘nonidentity cases’ are morally wrong because of the potential harm done to the individuals in question.

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Michael Longenecker
Zhongnan University of Economics and Law

References found in this work

Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1980 - Philosophy 56 (217):431-433.
Objects: Nothing Out of the Ordinary.Daniel Z. Korman - 2015 - New York, NY: Oxford University Press UK. Edited by Dana Zemack.
Naming and Necessity.S. Kripke - 1972 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 45 (4):665-666.

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