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Derek Parfit

Derek Parfit, a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, is the author of Reasons and Persons.

In the first half of this essay, I suggested how reality’s deepest features might be partly explained. Of the countless cosmic possibilities, or ways that reality might be, a few have very special features. If such a possibility obtained, that might be no coincidence. Reality might be this way because this way had this feature. Thus, if nothing had ever existed, that might have been true because it was the simplest way for reality to be. And if reality is maximal, because all possible local worlds exist, this may be true because it is the fullest way for reality to be. The highest law may be that being possible, and part of the fullest way reality might be, is sufficient for being actual.

Why anything? Why this?

Derek Parfit, 22 January 1998

Why does the Universe exist? There are two questions here. First, why is there a Universe at all? It might have been true that nothing ever existed: no living beings, no stars, no atoms, not even space or time. When we think about this possibility, it can seem astonishing that anything exists. Second, why does this Universe exist? Things might have been, in countless ways, different. So why is the Universe as it is?

Derek Parfit

Allan Gibbard, 7 June 2012

Morality can’t just be a system of arbitrary taboos. We want its protections, and others want those same protections against us. A morality worth heeding must have a rationale. A chief task...

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Personal Identity

Bernard Williams, 7 June 1984

Ten or fifteen years ago, the complaint against moral philosophy was that it did not address practical problems, but concentrated on meta-ethics: that is to say, on questions about the status,...

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