Permissible Progeny? The Morality of Procreation and Parenting

Permissible Progeny? The Morality of Procreation and Parenting

Permissible Progeny? The Morality of Procreation and Parenting

Permissible Progeny? The Morality of Procreation and Parenting


This volume contributes to the growing literature on the morality of procreation and parenting. About half of the chapters take up questions about the morality of bringing children into existence. They discuss the following questions: Is it wrong to create human life? Is there a connectionbetween the problem of evil and the morality of procreation? Could there be a duty to procreate? How do the environmental harms imposed by procreation affect its moral status? Given these costs, is the value of establishing genetic ties ever significant enough to render procreation morally permissible? And how should government respond to peoples' motives for procreating? The other half of the volume considers moral and political questions about adoption and parenting. One chapter considers whether the choice to become a parent can be rational. The two following chapters take up the regulation of adoption, focusing on whether the special burdens placed on adoptive parents, as compared to biological parents, can be morally justified. The book concludes by considering how we should conceive of adequacy standards in parenting and what resources we owe to children. This collection builds on existing literature by advancing new arguments and novel perspectives on existing debates. It also raises new issues deserving of our attention. As a whole it is sure to generate further philosophical debate on pressing and rich questions surrounding the bearing and rearing of children.


Sarah Hannan

Choosing whether to become a parent and how to go about raising a child are two of the most important decisions humans can make. the impacts of these choices are weighty and far-reaching. Assuming responsibility for a child changes the character of parents’ daily lives, and usually results in irrevocable lifelong shifts in parents’ priorities and motivations. Deciding whether and how to parent also has profound impacts on children, as well as on the adults they will grow up to be. Finally, parenting choices affect third parties who are not directly involved in the parent child relationship. These third parties include human and non-human animals that exist at present, and those who will come to exist in the future.

It is important to note that not everyone chooses to become a parent (this is more true of procreative parents than adoptive parents). There are pressing practical and philosophical issues surrounding safe and affordable access to birth control and abortion. Women can also become pregnant as a result of involuntary sex. These topics are not taken up in this volume. But even setting aside cases of unwanted and unavoidable pregnancy, it seems that a significant proportion of people who conceive do not chose to do so in any robust sense.

Children are often the causal result of a choice to have sex, and not the intention to create a new human life. Moreover, even those who do set out to become parents often do so without giving much thought to why they want to be parents, how to go about becoming a parent, and how to raise a child. There is some sense then in which the talk of parental choices with . . .

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