Non-Identity Argument

Non-Identity Argument

  • Submitted By: underglow
  • Date Submitted: 11/15/2008 5:20 PM
  • Category: Philosophy
  • Words: 2404
  • Page: 10
  • Views: 1

A short briefing paper for the Minister, explaining the non-identity argument, and assessing its relevance for climate change policy. Should climate change policy be changed in light of this argument?

There are several views that one could take when deciding which action would best resolve the issue of climate change. In light of “The Non-Identity Problem”[1], I will discuss two in regards to what is best for future generations, one is based on the principle that is it unjust to cause harm if it is avoidable to do so[2] and the other concerns finding the best outcome[3].

An action causes harm if it makes somebody worse off than he have been if the action did not occur, however, Page contends that our inaction towards climate change will harm very few, if any, future individuals[4]. For simplicity, let’s say there are two choices, either ‘Kyoto Lite’[5] or ‘Contraction and Convergence’[6]. If the latter is instigated, there will be a major impact on the daily routines of each individual, and as such, different decisions will be made which will inevitably lead to procreation occurring at a different time and conceivably with a different mate. If intercourse takes place at a slightly different time, it affects which sperm reaches the egg, and with such drastic changes implemented, it is inevitable that a different set of individuals will be born depending on which option we choose. After a few generations, we would find that there will be completely different set of individuals, whom will only come into existence depending on our action toward climate change. Assuming that both options will enable people to live lives worth living, Kyoto Lite, despite creating a less hospitable world, will have not harmed anyone. This is because if Contraction and Convergence had been executed,...

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