David Boonin on the Non-Identity Argument: Rejecting the Second Premise

Law, Ethics and Philosophy 7:29-47 (2019)
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According to various “harm-based” approaches to the non-identity problem, an action that brings a particular child into existence can also harm that child, even if his or her life is worth living. In the third chapter of The Non-Identity Problem and the Ethics of Future People, David Boonin surveys a variety of harm-based approaches and argues that none of them are successful. In this paper I argue that his objections to these various approaches do not impugn a harm-based approach that Boonin does not consider, an approach I call the “existence solution to the non-identity problem.” I also argue that the existence solution is more plausible than Boonin’s own proposed solution.

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Molly Gardner
University of Florida


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