Famine, Affluence, and Procreation: Peter Singer and Anti-Natalism Lite

Paper by David Benatar, published on March 5, 2020 in Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

Peter Singer has argued that the affluent have very extensive duties to the world’s poor. His argument has some important implications for procreation, most of which have not yet been acknowledged. These implications are explicated in this paper. First, the rich should desist from procreation and instead divert to the poor those resources that would have been used to rear the children that would otherwise have been produced. Second, the poor (and possibly also the rich) should desist from procreation because doing so can prevent the very bad things that would otherwise have befallen the children they would have brought into existence. Third, the rich (and others) sometimes have a duty to prevent the poor from procreating. Fourth, the rich sometimes have a right to prevent the poor from reproducing. Although these implications may not amount to a categorical prohibition on all procreation, they do significantly restrict the permissibility of procreation. They are, in that sense, anti-natalist.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10677-020-10073-4
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23/2 (2020), 415–431