David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 27 (1):47 – 63 (2002)
This paper discusses the issues of deciding to have a child with mental retardation, and of terminating a pregnancy when the future child is known to have the same disability. I discuss these problems by criticizing a utilitarian argument, namely, that one should act in a way that results in less suffering and less limited opportunity in the world. My argument is that future parents ought to assume a strong responsibility towards the well-being of their prospective children when they decide to reproduce. The moral point in cases in which our acts affect the well-being of future children should be expressed strictly in terms of parents' culpability. Future children thus do not have current moral standing but presently living persons have current obligations to consider the presumable effects of their actions on future people. I will also argue that there are morally significant differences between 'selective contraception' and selective abortion.
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