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On the partiality of procreative beneficence: a critical note
  1. Thomas Søbirk Petersen
  1. Correspondence to Dr Thomas Søbirk Petersen, Department of Philosophy and Science Studies, University of Roskilde, Roskilde 4000, Denmark; thomassp{at}


The aim of this paper is to criticise the well-discussed principle of Procreative Beneficence (PB) lately refined by Julian Savulescu and Guy Kahane. First, it is argued that advocates of PB leave us with an implausible justification for the moral partiality towards the child (or children) which reproducers decide to bring into existence as compared with all other individuals. This is implausible because the reasons given in favour of the partiality of PB, which are based on practical reason and common-sense morality, can just as well be used to guide reproducers to make choices that do not support partiality towards one's possible children. This seems to be true as least in some situations. Second, it is argued that Jakob Elster's recent critique of PB is problematic and specifically that a counterexample designed by Elster to criticise PB because of its partiality towards one's own children misses the target. Finally, a genuine counterexample to PB is developed in order to show that the partiality of PB leads to the wrong answer in a specific case.

  • Children
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Philosophical Ethics

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