April 18, 2011

Battle between the potentials

Matrioshka ninjasHow are future generations different from potential persons? | Practical Ethics - I blog about the DN debate piece by Espinoza and Peterson on abortion. I take issue with how they mix up potential persons and future generations (hint: one of them will certainly exist and have interests, the other will not necessarily have them).

I didn't have the time to get into the links to the principle of procreative beneficence - if you are going to have a child, then you still have some choice of which child there will be. Since there will certainly be a child, then the likely interests of that child do matter to you. If you are on the other hand unsure of whether you want to have a child or not, then the interests of the potential child have no strong claim on you.

Incidentally, I suspect the DN article is yet another example of how to win fame and success as a philosopher in Sweden. Just publish a typical ethics argument from your latest paper (or even a standard textbook argument) in a shortened, popular form on DN Debate. Uproar will ensue, with you guaranteed at least one widely read response (and, if you are really lucky, people shouting for your funding or professorship to be withdrawn - that will guarantee that fellow academics will close ranks with you). Torbjörn Tännsjö showed us the way by taking basic utilitarian paradoxes or extreme examples, riling up the Christian Democrats to an amazing degree. Hmm, maybe I should give it a try...

Posted by Anders3 at April 18, 2011 04:10 PM