Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

S. Andrew Schroeder

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© 2013 Emily K. Ott


This paper explores the nonidentity problem, an influential puzzle in modern ethics which addresses the nature of our moral responsibilities towards future generations. I begin by laying out the two conflicting intuitions comprising the problem and providing several examples to illustrate how we conceive of the moral status of future people. I then examine two versions of consequentialism, averagism and totalism, which circumvent the nonidentity problem. However, these two solutions each pose their own respective problems; thus, I argue that a modification of totalism – the critical level view – is the most viable consequentialist answer to the nonidentity problem.