The Nonidentity Problem: United and Unconquered

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The nonidentity problem (NIP) is one of the great moral discoveries of the twentieth century and a philosophical classic. It is a single, simple, powerful, philosophical conundrum. It has in many cases a solution, but cannot be dismissed, and it retains its paradoxical force. I will aim to present my own take on it and defend the NIP from the original and challenging attack by Melinda Roberts and David Wasserman in “Dividing and Conquering the Nonidentity Problem” (Chapter 5 in this volume). In the process, I will reject the positions they offer on each of the two alleged problems into which they divide the NIP, offering some less familiar arguments, particularly about individual contribution and the special role of parenting. I will also explicate why I think that it is in any case a mistake to see the NIP as composed of two distinct problems, showing both its unity and the broadness of its manifestations; illustrate how my recent ‘historical’ exploration of this problem is helpful; and conclude by defending the idea that the nonidentity problem typically has a solution but is nevertheless a large and significant problem, an ‘existential paradox.’

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCurrent Controversies in Bioethics
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781315437521
ISBN (Print)9781138855823
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Taylor & Francis.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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