Procreative beneficence and the prospective parent

Journal of Medical Ethics 32 (3):166-169 (2006)
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Julian Savulescu has given clear expression to a principle—that of “procreative beneficence”—which underlies the thought of many contemporary writers on bioethics. The principle of procreative beneficence holds that parents or single reproducers are at least prima facie obliged to select the child, out of a range of possible children they might have, who will be likely to lead the best life. My aim in this paper is to argue that prospective parents, just by dint of their being prospective parents, are in fact not obliged to act on PPB. That is, there is something about their filling the role of prospective parents that exempts them from selecting the child with the best life. I urge that it is more realistic to view prospective parents as bound by a principle of acceptable outlook, which holds that they ought not to select children whose lives will contain an unacceptable amount of suffering



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Peter Herissone-Kelly
University of Central Lancashire