The Procreation Asymmetry, Improvable-Life Avoidance, and Impairable-Life Acceptance

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Many philosophers are attracted to a complaints-based theory of the procreation asymmetry, according to which creating a person with a bad life is wrong (all else equal) because that person can complain about your act, whereas declining to create a person who would have a good life is not wrong (all else equal) because that person never exists and so cannot complain about your act. In this paper, I present two problems for such theories: the problem of impairable-life acceptance and an especially acute version of the problem of improvable-life avoidance. I explain how these problems afflict two recent complaints-based theories of the procreation asymmetry, from Joe Horton and Abelard Podgorski.

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Elliott Thornley
Oxford University

Citations of this work

Papers in Population Ethics.Elliott Thornley - 2023 - Dissertation, University of Oxford

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References found in this work

The Non-Identity Problem and the Ethics of Future People.David Boonin - 2014 - New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Ethics Out of Economics.John Broome - 1999 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Conditional Reasons and the Procreation Asymmetry.Johann Frick - 2020 - Philosophical Perspectives 34 (1):53-87.
New and Improvable Lives.Joe Horton - 2021 - Journal of Philosophy 118 (9):486-503.

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