J. David Velleman: Philosophy papers “Family History”, “The Gift of Life” and “Love and Non-Existence”

If you have the want/time, these papers are worth a read:

“Family History”
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1006993

“J. David Velleman
New York University – Department of Philosophy

Philosophical Papers, Vol. 34, pp. 357-378, 2005

Abstract:
On the ethics of donor conception.”

Abstract from the paper:

“I argue that meaning in life is importantly influenced by biological ties. More specifically, I maintain that knowing one’s relatives and especially one’s parents provides a kind of self knowledge that is of irreplacable value in the life-task of identity formation. These claims lead me to the conclusion that it is immoral to create children with the intention that they be alienated from their biological relatives – for example, by donor conception.”

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“The Gift of Life”
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1026293

“J. David Velleman
New York University – Department of Philosophy

Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 36, pp. 245-265, 2008

Abstract:
This is the second of three papers on questions of identity, existence, and nonexistence. (The other two are Love and Nonexistence and The Identity Problem.) In this paper I draw on Seana Shiffrin’s work on wrongful life to argue that human life is not a gift but a predicament, and that a biological parent’s obligation to help offspring cope with that predicament cannot be contracted out to others at will. ”

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“Love and Non-Existence”
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1014901

“J. David Velleman
New York University – Department of Philosophy

Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 36, pp. 266-288, 2008

Abstract:
This is the third of three papers on issues of personal identity, existence, and nonexistence. (The other two are The Gift of Life and The Identity Problem.) Here I argue that the birth of a child leads us to before and after value judgments that appear to be inconsistent. Consider, for example, a 14-year-old girl who decides to have a baby. We tend to think that the birth of a child to a 14-year-old would be a very unfortunate event, and hence that she should not decide to have a child. But once the child has been born, we are loath to say that it shouldn’t have been born. This conundrum is one of several that Derek Parfit considers in Part IV of Reasons and Persons. I suggest a solution that Parfit doesn’t consider. Parfit’s discussion is predicated on the assumption that our value judgments must be consistent, in the sense that they could be satisfied by some possible distribution of value across the possibilities. As we would say in logic, there must be a model of our value judgments, consisting in a distribution of value. I think that the present case gives us reason to reject this assumption.”

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