Book by Trevor Hedberg, published on May 6, 2020 in London: Routledge
This book examines the link between population growth and environmental impact and explores the implications of this connection for the ethics of procreation.
In light of climate change, species extinctions, and other looming environmental crises, Trevor Hedberg argues that we have a collective moral duty to halt population growth to prevent environmental harms from escalating. This book assesses a variety of policies that could help us meet this moral duty, confronts the conflict between protecting the welfare of future people and upholding procreative freedom, evaluates the ethical dimensions of individual procreative decisions, and sketches the implications of population growth for issues like abortion and immigration. It is not a book of tidy solutions: Hedberg highlights some scenarios where nothing we can do will enable us to avoid treating some people unjustly. In such scenarios, the overall objective is to determine which of our available options will minimize the injustice that occurs.
This book will be of great interest to those studying environmental ethics, environmental policy, climate change, sustainability, and population policy.
Book by David Benatar & David Wasserman, published on May 21, 2015 in Oxford University Press
In this book, two sides of the debate on the ethics of procreation are presented. One argues for the anti-natalist view that procreation is never morally permissible. In support of that conclusion he advances a number of arguments. These include: an argument based on an axiological asymmetry between harm and benefit; an argument based on the poor quality of all human life and the risk of serious harm; and a misanthropic argument based on the harm that humans do. The second half of the book identifies a variety of moderate pro-natalist positions, which all see procreation as sometimes permissible but never required. After criticizing the leading anti-natalist arguments, focusing on the first and second arguments presented in the first half of the book, the second half considers moderate pro-natalist views that vary in permissiveness. It argues that constraints on procreation are best understood in terms of the role morality of prospective parents; reviews different views of that role morality; and argues for one that imposes only limited constrains based on the well-being of the future child. The second half of the book then contends that the expected good of a future child and of the parent-child relationship can provide a strong justification for procreation in the face of expected adversities without giving individuals any moral reason to procreate.
Book by David DeGrazia, published on June 13, 2012 in Oxford University Press
The ethics of creating—or declining to create—people has been addressed in several contexts: debates over abortion and embryo research; literature on “self-creation”; discussions of procreative rights and responsibilities, genetic engineering, and future generations. Here, for the first time, is a sustained, scholarly analysis of all of these issues—a discussion combining breadth of topics with philosophical depth, imagination with current scientific understanding, argumentative rigor with accessibility. The overarching aim of this book is to illuminate a broad array of issues connected with reproduction and genetics, through the lens of moral philosophy. With novel frameworks for understanding prenatal moral status and human identity, and exceptional fairness to those holding different views, the author sheds new light on the ethics of abortion and embryo research, genetic enhancement and prenatal genetic interventions, procreation and parenting, as well as decisions that affect the quality of life of future generations. Along the way, he helpfully introduces personal identity theory and value theory as well as such complex topics as moral status, wrongful life, and the “nonidentity problem.” The results include a subjective account of human well-being, a standard for responsible procreation and parenting, and a theoretical bridge between consequentialist and nonconsequentialist ethical theories. The upshot is a synoptic, mostly liberal vision of the ethics of creating human beings.
Book by Christine Overall, published on January 1, 2012 in Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
A wide-ranging exploration of whether or not choosing to procreate can be morally justified—and if so, how.
In contemporary Western society, people are more often called upon to justify the choice not to have children than they are to supply reasons for having them. In this book, Christine Overall maintains that the burden of proof should be reversed: that the choice to have children calls for more careful justification and reasoning than the choice not to. Arguing that the choice to have children is not just a prudential or pragmatic decision but one with ethical repercussions, Overall offers a wide-ranging exploration of how we might think systematically and deeply about this fundamental aspect of human life. Writing from a feminist perspective, she also acknowledges the inevitably gendered nature of the decision; the choice has different meanings, implications, and risks for women than it has for men.
After considering a series of ethical approaches to procreation, and finding them inadequate or incomplete, Overall offers instead a novel argument. Exploring the nature of the biological parent-child relationship—which is not only genetic but also psychological, physical, intellectual, and moral—she argues that the formation of that relationship is the best possible reason for choosing to have a child.
Book by David Benatar, published on October 12, 2006
This book argues for a number of related, highly provocative views: (i) coming into existence is always a serious harm; (ii) procreation is always wrong; (iii) it is wrong not to abort foetuses at the earlier stages of gestation; and (iv) it would be better if, as a result of there being no new people, humanity became extinct. Although these conclusions are antagonistic to common and deeply held intuitions, the book argues that these intuitions are unreliable and thus cannot be used to refute it's grim-sounding conclusions.