UCL Philosophy


Kowalczyk: Risk, Non-Identity, and Extinction

15 March 2024

Kacper Kowalczyk: Risk, Non-Identity, and Extinction (2024), The Monist

This paper examines a recent argument in favour of strong precautionary action—possibly including working to hasten human extinction—on the basis of a decision-theoretic view that accommodates the risk-attitudes of all affected while giving more weight to the more risk-averse attitudes. First, we dispute the need to take into account other people’s attitudes towards risk at all. Second, we argue that a version of the non-identity problem undermines the case for doing so in the context of future people. Lastly, we suggest that we should not work to hasten human extinction, even if significant risk aversion is warranted.