Debating Procreation: Is It Wrong to Reproduce?

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.

Oxford University Press