Benefit, Disability and the Non-Identity Problem
It is natural to think the evaluation of reproductive decisions is subject to the same ethical standards that apply to relations between existing persons. If so, prospective parents should be able to extrapolate from the latter to the former when thinking about whether to have children, how to have children, what sort of children to have, and so on. Yet there are well-known features of certain reproductive decisions that make it hard to grasp how some of the most basic ethical standards that apply to relations between persons also apply to them. These features obtain in scenarios where reproductive decisions are made in the absence of any distinct or identifiable person who fills the role of primary beneficiary or victim. I call such scenarios pre-conception scenarios, and any scenario where the causing to exist of an entity is at stake a non-identity scenario. The problem of how to evaluate decisions ethically where the identity of the entity affected is itself determined by those decisions is sometimes called the non-identity problem.1 I shall follow this usage. Pre-conception scenarios form a subset of nonidentity scenarios. This chapter is primarily about the non-identity problem as applied to pre-conception scenarios, although I also discuss a number of other non-identity scenarios.
KeywordsDefend Stake Blindness Ethi
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