Southwest Philosophy Review

Volume 29, Issue 1, January 2013

Chelsea Haramia
Pages 249-256

Our Responsibility to the Non-existent

Those who do not exist cannot be harmed. If someone is not worse off than she otherwise would have been, she is not harmed. Together, these claims entail that the individuals in non-identity cases are not harmed, because no one who exists is made worse off. While these claims might be true at the individual level, their truth does not preclude our having harm-based concerns about future persons in general. These concerns are justified when we recognize the responsibility we have over certain offices that persons come to fill. By positing an account of de dicto harm and arguing for its moral relevance, I provide a solution to the non- identity problem that coheres nicely with our intuitions regarding harm, responsibility, and obligations to future persons.