Procreative ethics

My work in procreative ethics focuses on the ethics of creating human life and on parental rights and responsibilities.

  • “Creation Theory: Do Genetic Ties Matter?” In Permissible Progeny, ed. S. Hannan, S. Brennan, and R. Vernon (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).

Some philosophers have argued that it is wrong to procreate, for various reasons: because we have a duty to adopt, or to give our resources to the worst-off  instead, or because procreation increases consumption of scarce resources. Responding to such arguments runs the risk of suggesting that relationships based on genetic ties are more valuable than relationships between adoptive parents and their children. In this paper, I formulate a defense of procreation which does not depend on attributing greater value to genetic ties than adoptive relationships.

A short essay on this topic appears in the “How Many Children Should We Have?” forum in The Philosophers’ Magazine, which has kindly allowed me to post my contribution.

  • “Willing Parents: A Voluntarist Account of Parental Role Obligations.” In Procreation and Parenthood, ed. David Archard and David Benatar (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010): 151-177.
  • “Fatherhood and Child Support:  Do Men Have a Right to Choose?,” Journal of Applied Philosophy 22:1 (2005): 55-73.

One influential argument for abortion suggests that women are not morally responsible for fetuses they conceive if they have taken appropriate precautions. But wouldn’t this same reasoning apply to men who take appropriate precautions, yet despite their precautions father a child? This article examines the conditions for men’s reproductive autonomy.

I’ve also co-authored (with Joe Millum) the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry “Parenthood and Procreation.”