I’ve been reading David Benatar’s Better Never to Have Been, which I
expect to review presently have reviewed, but that’s not what this post is about. In it, I happened upon the Non-Identity Paradox asserted by Derek Parfit. In essence, the argument affecting three intuitions runs like this:
- Person-affecting, intuition. According to that intuition, an act can be wrong only if that act makes things worse for, or (we can say) harms, some existing or future person.
- A person an existence, though flawed, is worth having in a case in which that same person could never have existed at all, and the absence of that act does not make things worse for, or harm, and is not “bad for,” that person.
- The existence-inducing acts under scrutiny in the various nonidentity cases are wrong.
The first intuition is my interest: an act can be wrong only if that act makes things worse for some existing or future person. In particular, relative to the future person.
I’ve long held that private property is immoral. One reason is that it favours an extant person over a non-extant person. It also favours humans over non-humans, but I suppose that’s an argument for another day. Plus, it appropriates common public property into private hands—and by ‘public’, I don’t mean property of the state, which is of course just another misappropriation but at a higher level
I believe that this intuition hones the edge of the extant person, person-affecting, argument insomuch as it puts future persons at a disadvantage relative to existing ones.
Nothing more to add. Back to reading Benatar. Thoughts?