Paper by Anthony Ferrucci & Blake Hereth, published on March 19, 2021 in South African Journal of Philosophy
Hereth and Ferrucci evaluate a person’s right to physical security (RPS) in different cases and use it to arrive at what they call “the responsibility argument” against procreating:
- (P1) We should (other things being equal) avoid being responsible for non-trivial harms to persons to which they neither consent nor are liable.
- (P2) If we create persons, they will suffer non-trivial harms to which they neither consent nor are liable.
- (C) Therefore, we should (other things being equal) avoid creating persons.
Following that they use RPS to strengthen David Benatar’s misanthropic argument for antinatalism and then discuss several common objections to those arguments and outline why they fail.
Anti-natalism is the view that persons ought morally to refrain from procreation. We offer a new argument for a principled version of anti-natalism according to which it is always impermissible to procreate in the actual world since doing so will violate the right to physical security of future, created persons once those persons exist and have the right. First, we argue that procreators can be responsible for non-trivial harms that befall future persons even if they do not cause them and if the harms are temporally delayed, provided the harms are reasonably foreseeable by procreators. For example, consider a case in which we can create a person in a room that is dangerously aflame. It would be wrong to do so since, once the person exists, they have a right that we avoid being morally responsible for unjust harms to them, and the fire in which we created them is one such unjust harm. Second, we argue that procreators are responsible for unjust harms that befall their children, since many non-trivial physical harms (e.g. broken bones, lower respiratory illnesses) are reasonably foreseeable by procreators. Thus, parents wrong their children by creating them. Third, we argue that procreators are also responsible for the unjust harms their children commit against others, since it is reasonably foreseeable that every person will inflict unjust, non-trivial physical harms on someone else. But this is worse since parents thereby share in their child’s future culpable intent. Finally, we consider a number of objections to anti-natalism and argue that none of them succeed against anti-natalism generally or against our argument grounded in the right to physical security.
Of course, procreators typically do not directly cause such harms to their children.
They do, however, permit them as an unavoidable cost of satisfying their interests, which (as the
responsibility argument shows) is presumptively condemned by RPS. The mere fact that parents
permit rather than cause these harms is arguably enough to make the average act of procreation
less wrong but seems clearly insufficient to make it permissible. Thus, the presumption established
under RPS is sufficiently weighty to generate not only a presumptive obligation to refrain from
procreation in almost all cases, but an all-things-considered obligation to do so.— by Anthony Ferrucci & Blake Hereth in "Here’s not Looking at You, Kid: A new Defence of Anti-natalism"
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