What You're Rejecting When You're Expecting

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry (3):1-12 (2023)
  Copy   BIBTEX


I defend two collapsing or reductionist arguments against Weak Pro-Natalism (WPN), the view that procreation is generally merely permissible. In particular, I argue that WPN collapses into Strong Pro-Natalism (SPN), the view that procreation is generally obligatory. Because SPN conflicts with the dominant view that procreation is never obligatory, demonstrating that WPN collapses into or entails SPN establishes epistemic parity (at least as concerns reproductive liberty) between WPN and Anti-Natalism (AN), the view that procreation is always impermissible. First, I distinguish between two moral goods: the good of procreation itself and the good of procreative potential. Second, I contend that the average moral agent is obligated to assist needy children via adoption, fostering, or other financial or interpersonal support. Third, I present the first collapsing argument: If an agent’s justification for not assisting needy children is preservation of their resources (financial or interpersonal) for their actual future offspring, that justification is preserved only if they eventually and actually procreate. Thus, their eventual procreation is morally obligatory, and SPN follows. Fourth, I present the second collapsing argument, which assumes procreative potential as the relevant good: If an agent’s justification for not assisting needy children is preservation of their resources for their potential future offspring, that justification holds only if (a) the objective or subjective valuation of the opportunity is of the relevant type and valence to justify not assisting needy children and (b) the agent sincerely values the opportunity. Fifth, I argue that (a) is unsatisfied and that while (b) is satisfied in most cases, it entails that most agents are obligated to desire or be behaviorally disposed to pursue procreation for themselves (i.e., SPN). Thus, I conclude that both actual procreation and procreative potential are either insufficient justifications for not assisting needy children or that they entail obligatory pro-reproductive attitudes or behaviors.

Similar books and articles

Anti-Natalism.Kirk Lougheed & and - 2022 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Anti-natalism and the creation of artificial minds.Bartek Chomanski - forthcoming - Journal of Applied Philosophy.
The Hypothetical Consent Objection to Anti-Natalism.Asheel Singh - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (5):1135-1150.
Here’s Not Looking at You, Kid: A New Defense of Anti-Natalism.Blake Hereth & Anthony Ferrucci - 2021 - South African Journal of Philosophy 40 (1):14-33.
The Right to Reproduce.Carolyn McLeod - forthcoming - In Wendy A. Rogers, Catherine Mills & Jackie Leach Scully (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Feminist Bioethics. New York, NY, USA: Routledge.
On Risk-Based Arguments for Anti-natalism.Erik Magnusson - 2022 - Journal of Value Inquiry 56 (1):101-117.


Added to PP

164 (#110,392)

6 months
112 (#29,321)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Blake Hereth
University of Pennsylvania

Citations of this work

Ethics, Politics, and Minorities.Michael A. Ashby - 2023 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 20 (3):341-344.

Add more citations

References found in this work

The wrongs of racist beliefs.Rima Basu - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2497-2515.
Famine, affluence, and morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):229-243.
A defense of abortion.Judith Jarvis Thomson - 1971 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (1):47-66.
Preferring a Genetically-Related Child.Tina Rulli - 2016 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 13 (6):669-698.

View all 35 references / Add more references