This collection of essays, written by noted scholars and theorists, covers everything from the practical to the theoretical, and investigates the obligations we have to future persons, ranging from our own future offspring to distant future generations.
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.
Introduction by M. A. Roberts and David T. Wasserman.-
I. Can Bringing a Person into Existence Harm That Person? Can an Act That Harms No One Be Wrong?.- 1. The Intractability of the Nonidentity Problem by David Heyd.-
II. If Bringing a Worse Off Person into Existence Is Wrong, Is Not Bringing a Better Off Person into Existence Also Wrong?.- 2. Rights and the Asymmetry Between Creating Good and Bad Lives by Ingmar Persson.- 3. Asymmetries in the Morality of Causing People to Exist by Jeff McMahan.-
III. Must an Act Worse for People Be Worse for a Particular Person?.- 4. Who Cares About Identity? By Nils Holtug.- 5. Do Future Persons Presently Have Alternative Possible Identities? By Clark Wolf.- 6. Rule Consequentialism and Non-Identity by Tim Mulgan.-
IV. Is the Inference to 'No Harm Done' Correct? Must an Act That Harms a Person Make That Person Worse Off?.- 7. Harming As Causing Harm by Elizabeth Harman.- 8. Wrongful Life and Procreative Decisions by Bonnie Steinbock.- 9. Harming and Procreating by Matthew Hanser.- 10. The Nonidentity Problem and the Two Envelope Problem: When Is One Act Better for a Person Than Another? By M. A. Roberts.-
V. Is the Morality of Parental Reproductive Choice Special? Can Intentions and Attitudes Make an Act that Harms No One Wrong?.- 11. Reproduction, Partiality, and the Non-Identity Problem by Hallvard Lillehammer.- 12. Two Varieties of 'Better-For' Judgements by Peter Herissone-Kelly.- 13. Harms to Future People and Procreative Intentions by David T. Wasserman.-
VI. Is the Person-Affecting Approach Objectionable Independent of the Nonidentity Problem?.- 14. Can the Person-Affecting Restriction Solve the Problems in Population Ethics? By Gustaf Arrhenius.- VII. What Are the Implications of the Nonidentity Problem for Law and Public Policy?.- 15. Implications of the Nonidentity Problem for State Regulation of Reproductive Liberty by Philip G. Peters, Jr..- 16. Reparations for U.S. Slavery and Justice Over Time by Seana Valentine Shiffrin.
From the reviews:
"This volume is intentionally and wholeheartedly a philosophical book dealing with conceptual analysis (a lot of papers address aspects of 'harm'), the analysis of ethical judgments, meta-ethical questions (the tension between deontology and consequentialism) and the ontology (or semantics) of future and non-existing persons. ... this book is highly recommended for everyone interested in the impact of our actions on future people-not for philosophers only." (Michael Quante, Medicine Health Care & Philosophy, Issue 4, 2010)
Examines what we owe future persons from both moral and legal perspectives
Deeply probes particular concerns in areas ranging from the new reproductive technologies to the structure of morality
Ranges from the practical (is it wrong to bring an impaired child into existence?) to the theoretical (can "bad" acts be "bad for" no one?)
Is written by the most noted scholars and theorists amongst those working today on matters relating to future persons
Extends and applies the powerful work Derek Parfit commenced in his brilliant and influential book Reasons and Persons