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Procreative permissiveness

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • i Here I develop in more detail some brief remarks I offered in the course of reviewing this book for Mind (Review forthcoming).

  • ii The phrase “a life worth living” is ambiguous between “a life worth starting” and “a life worth continuing”. (For more on the significance of this distinction see Benatar D. The wrong of wrongful life. Am Philos Q 2000;37:176–7.) Professor DeGrazia is not clear which of these senses he has in mind. The point I make in this paragraph applies to both meanings, but especially to the first.

  • iii We are not considering, for example, a case of an “owner” raping a slave, who then produces offspring destined to a life of slavery.

  • iv He makes this more explicit in endnote 4 on p. 194, but even there no argument is given why we should accept this view.

  • v I am assuming that because the gambling is compulsive it is not, in the relevant sense, within the parent's control.

  • vi I happen to think that it is wrong for anybody to procreate (Better never to have been. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.) However, I do think that the worse one's child's life is likely to be the morally worse it is to have that child.

  • vii It might be objected that the poor often have little or no control over their reproduction. However, that argument can be a two-edged sword, for insofar as their procreation is not autonomous, preventing them from procreating would not be a violation of their autonomy.

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