The production of children as a problem of utilitarian ethics

Paper by Hermann Vetter, published on March 1, 1969 in Inquiry

It is shown that the basic postulate of utilitarianism does not work when we must decide whether a person should be brought into existence. Utilitarianism must be supplemented by further axioms. Those proposed lead to the consequence that as far as the potential child's utility is concerned, it is morally preferable not to produce children at all. This consequence is accepted. It is still recommended when parents’ utility is taken into account.