About me

In August of 2013 I received my PhD in Philosophy from the University of Colorado Boulder where I currently hold a position as a lecturer. My dissertation is an attempt to solve a puzzle regarding our obligations to future generations that is known as the Non-identity Problem. The Non-identity Problem arises for actions that affect both the quality of life and the identities of future individuals. The peculiar features of this kind of action leave it resistant to the traditional tools of moral assessment. I argue that we can solve the non-identity problem while retaining most of our ordinary moral commitments if we accept that the welfare of future generations contributes intrinsic moral value to states of affairs.

My current work focuses primarily on the intersection of normative and applied ethics, especially the nature of our obligations to future generations. These days I am thinking about the following questions: Are non-human versions of the Non-identity Problem possible, and what are their moral implications? Does equality contribute intrinsic or merely instrumental moral value to states of affairs? Is there a sound moral basis for discounting the future?

I also work on questions concerning the nature of harm and the nature of pleasure including: What is the connection between pleasure and desire? Is there always a reason to avoid being harmed? In what sense is death harmful for the person who dies?

Contact me: duncan.purves@colorado.edu