What You're Rejecting When You're Expecting

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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