Procreative Ethics

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

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

Some philosophers (anti-natalists) have argued that it is wrong to procreate.  Some argue that we should adopt instead, that creating new life takes resources from needy children waiting to be adopted; others argue that procreation unfairly increases consumption of scarce resources.

In this paper, I formulate a defense of procreation – while avoiding the trap of 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.


Other papers in procreative ethics:

  • “Willing Parents: A Voluntarist Account of Parental Role Obligations,” by Elizabeth Brake, 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?,” by Elizabeth Brake, Journal of Applied Philosophy 22:1 (2005): 55-73.

One defense of abortion argues that women are not morally responsible for fetuses if they have taken precautions (contraception). But doesn’t the same reasoning apply to men who, despite precautions, father a child? This article examines the conditions for men’s reproductive autonomy.