An Ordinary Chance of a Desirable Existence

Michael Parker

in Procreation and Parenthood

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199590704
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595547 | DOI:
An Ordinary Chance of a Desirable Existence

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The decision to have a child is one of the most morally significant choices we make. Recent advances in reproductive medicine have increased the moral complexity of reproductive decision‐making dramatically by introducing the possibility of choosing the biological characteristics of future children. This chapter argues for a principle of ‘procreative beneficence’ which requires of parents that they ensure when making such choices, insofar as this is possible, that any child they have has at least a reasonable chance of a good life. The chapter goes on to argue that procreative beneficence on this interpretation places important obligations on potential parents and on third parties, such as fertility clinics, ruling out, for example, the deliberate decision to have a child with a very severe disability. Whilst arguing that those involved in reproductive decision‐making have important obligations in relation to the lives they are considering bringing about, the chapter rejects the version of the principle of procreative beneficence supported by Julian Savulescu who argues that parents have an obligation to have the child with the ‘best opportunity of the best life’. The chapter argues that the principle of procreative beneficence on this interpretation is underdetermining, paradoxical, and self‐defeating, and should be rejected.

Keywords: procreative beneficence; disability; reproductive ethics; good life; future children; Savulescu; reasonableness

Chapter.  7009 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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