Beneficence and procreation

Philosophical Studies 173 (2):321-336 (2016)
Abstract
Consider a duty of beneficence towards a particular individual, S, and call a reason that is grounded in that duty a “beneficence reason towards S.” Call a person who will be brought into existence by an act of procreation the “resultant person.” Is there ever a beneficence reason towards the resultant person for an agent to procreate? In this paper, I argue for such a reason by appealing to two main premises. First, we owe a pro tanto duty of beneficence to future persons; and second, some of us can benefit some of those persons by procreating. In support of the first premise I reject the presentist account of time in favor of the view that future persons are just as real as presently existing persons. I then argue that future persons are like us in all the morally relevant ways, and since we owe duties of beneficence to each other, we also owe duties of beneficence to future persons. In support of the second premise I offer an account of benefiting according to which an individual can be benefited by an action even if it makes her no better off than she would have been, had the action not been performed. This account of benefiting solves what I call the “non-identity benefit problem.” Finally, I argue that having a life worth living is a benefit, and some of us can cause some persons that benefit by causing them to exist.
Keywords Non-identity problem  Harm  Benefit  Procreation ethics  Presentism  Eternalism  Existence  Future generations
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11098-015-0494-1
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 32,587
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
Philosophical Papers Vol. II.Lewis David - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
The Case for Animal Rights.Tom Regan - 2009 - In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Noûs. Oxford University Press. pp. 425-434.
The Nature of Necessity.Alvin Plantinga - 1974 - Clarendon Press.

View all 42 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Harm: Omission, Preemption, Freedom.Nathan Hanna - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (2):251-73.
The Rights of Future Persons and the Ontology of Time.Aaron M. Griffith - 2017 - Journal of Social Philosophy 48 (1):58-70.
In Defense of Artificial Replacement.Derek Shiller - 2017 - Bioethics 31 (2):393-399.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Our Duties to Future Generations.Molly Gardner - 2013 - Dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Conservation, Foresight, and the Future Generations Problem.Steve Vanderheiden - 2006 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 49 (4):337 – 352.
Possible Persons and the Problem of Prenatal Harm.Nicola Jane Williams - 2013 - The Journal of Ethics 17 (4):355-385.
Procreative Beneficence – Cui Bono?Jakob Elster - 2011 - Bioethics 25 (9):482-488.
Causing People to Exist and Saving People's Lives.Jeff McMahan - 2013 - The Journal of Ethics 17 (1-2):5-35.
How Best to Prevent Future Persons From Suffering: A Reply to Benatar.Brooke Alan Trisel - 2012 - South African Journal of Philosophy 31 (1):79-93.
Have We Solved the Non-Identity Problem?Fiona Woollard - 2012 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (5):677-690.
Harm to Future Persons: Non-Identity Problems and Counterpart Solutions.Anthony Wrigley - 2012 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (2):175-190.
Kantian Beneficence and the Problem of Obligatory Aid.Karen Stohr - 2011 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 8 (1):45-67.
Harmful Beneficence.Lisa Rivera - 2011 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 8 (2):197-222.
Imperfect Duties, Group Obligations, and Beneficence.S. Andrew Schroeder - 2014 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 11 (5):557-584.
On the Value of Coming Into Existence.Nils Holtug - 2001 - The Journal of Ethics 5 (4):361-384.
Added to PP index
2015-04-25

Total downloads
78 ( #77,216 of 2,235,688 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
18 ( #25,897 of 2,235,688 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature