The Asymmetry, Procreative Risk, and the Specter of Anti-Natalism

Abstract:

According to a widely held intuition, our moral reasons concerning procreation are asymmetric:  If a future person would have a life that is so full of uncompensated suffering as to be not worth living, this in itself gives us a strong moral reason to refrain from bringing this person into existence. By contrast, there is no moral reason to create a person whose life would be worth living, just because her life would be worth living. However, paired with a plausible empirical assumption, namely that in in every act of procreation there is some small risk of creating a person whose life is not worth living, this widely held intuition may appear to commit us to the view that procreating is a risk that is rarely morally justifiable. Consider: if we procreate then, in the best case, we bring about an outcome (namely that in which a new happy person is created) which, according to the Asymmetry, we have no moral reason to bring about. But in the worst case, we bring about an outcome that we have strong moral reason to avoid. In this paper, I show how we can avoid this unattractive conclusion. We can embrace the Procreation Asymmetry without committing ourselves to Anti-Natalism.

Last updated on 04/10/2018