Epistemic Possibility and the Necessity of Origin

Hane Maung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The necessity of origin suggests that a person’s identity is determined by the particular pair of gametes from which the person originated. An implication is that speculative scenarios concerning how we might otherwise have been had our gametic origins been different are dismissed as being metaphysically impossible. Given, however, that many of these speculations are intelligible and commonplace in the discourses of competent speakers, it is overhasty to dismiss them as mistakes. This paper offers a way of understanding these speculations that does not commit them to incoherence but aims to make the best sense of what they are expressing. Using the philosophical framework of two-dimensional semantics, it proposes that the speculative scenarios are best analysed as epistemic possibilities, rather than as metaphysical possibilities. It then explores some implications of this analysis for the ethical challenges associated with the non-identity problem.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)685-701
Number of pages17
Issue number5
Early online date23 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • epistemic possibility
  • necessity of origin
  • non-identity problem
  • two-dimensional semantics


Dive into the research topics of 'Epistemic Possibility and the Necessity of Origin'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this