Sunday, May 06, 2007

Carbon philosophy

About an hour ago, UA 190 made a safe landing at Chicago O’Hare, finishing the first of three flight segments this weekend as Nilla and I head back to Scandinavia, in her case to Lund and in my case to Helsinki and this year’s ECPR Joint Sessions.


As evident from the picture, I am right now busy reading through Robert Huseby’s paper one more time, trying to come up with some good comments. In short, Huseby’s paper is an attempt to refute an argument presented by Derek Parfit, Tomas Schwartz and most recently Alan Carter. The argument goes that any effective attempt to improve the life prospects of remotely future generations will cause different individuals to exist in that future than would have existed had no such attempts been made in the present. Accordingly, the life prospects of particular individuals in that future can in no way be altered by policies adopted in the present. Such policies can only cause different remote persons to come into existence.

If valid, that argument, and the so called non-identity problem which it outlines, would mean that common moral theories would be unable to account for why we should be concerned with the more important moral challenges of our time (such as global climte change).

Overall, I must say that Huseby is doing an excellent literature review and also presents a few quite fresh objections to earlier work done Edward Page and Rahul Kumar. Yet, philosophy often stands the risk of becoming a mere play with words while the world stays pretty much the same. As also evident from the picture of Rasmus reading his paper in an airplane…

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