Contingent Future Persons

Contingent Future Persons : On the Ethics of Deciding Who Will Live, or Not, in the Future

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How ought we evaluate the individual and collective actions on which the existence, numbers and identities of future people depend? In the briefest of terms, this question poses what is addressed here as the problem of contingent future persons, and as such it poses relatively novel challenges for philosophical and theological ethicists. For though it may be counter-intuitive, it seems that those contingent future persons who are actually brought into existence by such actions cannot benefit from or be harmed by these actions in any conventional sense of the terms. This intriguing problem was defined almost three decades ago by Jan Narveson [2], and to date its implications have been explored most exhaustively by Derek Parfit [3] and David Heyd [1]. Nevertheless, as yet there is simply no consensus on how we ought to evaluate such actions or, indeed, on whether we can. Still, the pursuit of a solution to the problem has been interestingly employed by moral philosophers to press the limits of ethics and to urge a reconsideration of the nature and source of value at its most fundamental level. It is thus proving to be a very fruitful investigation, with far-reaching theoretical and practical implications.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 216 pages
  • 170 x 244 x 14.22mm | 1,100g
  • Dordrecht, Netherlands
  • English
  • 1997 ed.
  • VII, 216 p.
  • 0792347072
  • 9780792347071

Table of contents

Preface; J.C. Heller. Introduction; N. Fotion. When Does Potentiality Count? A Comment on Lockwood; R.M. Hare. Hare on Potentiality: A Rejoinder; M. Lockwood. The Morality of Knowingly Conceiving Children with Serious Conditions: An Expanded `Wrongful Life' Standard; C.B. Cohen. Person-Affecting Principles and Beyond; I. Persson. Divine Creation and Human Procreation: Reflections on Genesis in the Light of Genesis; D. Heyd. Deciding the Timing of Children: An Ethical Challenge Only Indirectly Addressed by the CHristian Tradition; J.C. Heller. Repugnant Thoughts about the Repugnant Conclusion Argument; N. Fotion. Person-Affecting Utilitarianism and Population Policy; Or, Sissy Jupe's Theory of Social Choice; C. Wolf. Down to Earth Environmentalism: Sustainability and Future Persons; A. de-Shalit. More Than They Have a Right to: Future People and Our Future Oriented Projects; L.H. Meyer. Contingency, Community and Intergenerational Justice; R. Elliot. Bringing Embryos into Existence for Research Purposes; C.A. Tauer. Anticipating Posterity: A Lonerganian Approach to the Problem of Contingent Future Persons; W.P. George. Notes on Contributors. Index.
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