Paper by Gerald Harrison, published on January 22, 2019 in Essays in Philosophy
Harrison argues that procreative acts possess numerous features that, in other contexts, would be considered to make an action immoral. He finds no reason that this should be different for the act of procreation and so concludes that procreating is immoral as well.
The typical wrongmakers covered by Harrison include consent, harm and the cause of harm to the environment or other beings. He also shows how the loving relationships between parent and child, while usually praised as unconditional love, are problematic, considering how they are started completely one-sided and rely on processes such as imprinting, which would be immoral in any other context of falling in love.
I believe most acts of human procreation are immoral, and I believe this despite also believing in the truth of moral particularism. In this paper I explain why. I argue that procreative acts possess numerous features that, in other contexts, seem typically to operate with negative moral valences. Other things being equal this gives us reason to believe they will operate negatively in the context of procreative acts as well. However, most people’s intuitions represent procreative acts to be morally permissible in most circumstances. Given moral particularism, this would normally be good evidence that procreative acts are indeed morally permissible and that the features that operate negatively elsewhere, simply do not do so in the context of procreative acts in particular. But I argue that we have no good reason to think our intuitions about the ethics of human procreation are accurate. Our most reliable source of insight into the ethics human procreative acts are not our intuitions those acts themselves, but our intuitions about the typical moral valences of the features such acts possess. If that is correct, then acts of human procreation are most likely wrong.
We imprint on whomever we first encounter for a sustained period, regardless of their character, and likewise where our parents are concerned. Whatever child they had created—that is, whatever its character and personality—they would have imprinted on it. And most are well aware of this; as already noted, many have children precisely because they wish to love and be loved in this way. The automatic and unconditional nature of it all is part of its appeal. But this is ethically very significant, I think, because in other contexts loving relationships that have arisen in this way seem far from ideal. Indeed, such relationships seem more akin to addictions or sicknesses. (p.9)— by Gerald Harrison in "Antinatalism and Moral Particularism"
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Essays in Philosophy 20/1 (2019), 66–88