Individual procreative responsibility and the non-identity problem

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 90 (3):336-363 (2009)
Abstract
The question I address in this paper is whether and under what conditions it is morally right to bring a person into existence. I defend the commonsensical thesis that, other things being equal, it is morally wrong to create a person who will be below some threshold of quality of life, even if the life of this potential person, once created, will nevertheless be worth living. However commonsensical this view might seem, it has shown to be problematic because of the so-called 'Non-Identity Problem'. Both utilitarian and rights-based approaches have been unable to provide a solution to this problem. I rest my thesis on two premises: that causing a disability or impairment in a future person is prima facie wrong, so long as we can avoid causing such a disability to that very person; and that reproduction, under normal conditions, is prima facie morally indifferent. From these two premises, I conclude that it is prima facie wrong to bring into existence a person with a non-trivial disability or impairment (which might be, nonetheless, compatible with a worthwhile life), even if the only available alternative is to remain childless.
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    Michael D. Bayles (1976). Harm to the Unconceived. Philosophy and Public Affairs 5 (3):292-304.
    David Benatar (1997). Why It Is Better Never to Come Into Existence. American Philosophical Quarterly 34 (3):345 - 355.

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