Future Persons and Their Independence

Anja J. Karnein

in A Theory of Unborn Life

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199782475
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933297 | DOI:
Future Persons and Their Independence

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This chapter spells out what it means to respect the independence of future persons. People frequently overlook the dangers inherent in the asymmetry of the relationship between the generations. They think that adults are always entitled to make decisions about the “good” of their offspring, even if that entails interfering with their future children’s genetic constitution. In contrast, in this chapter independence is defended as the central notion for a morality of creating future persons. The only legitimate reason for members of the present generation to genetically intervene with future persons’ genetic make-up is to make sure that the latter are mentally and physically equipped for leading independent lives in order to protect them from domination by their contemporaries. The chapter proceeds by addressing five possible objections to this account. It closes with an argument about procreative responsibility, which maintains that the primary addressees of intergenerational obligations are not the child’s parents but society more generally.

Keywords: independence; future persons; non-identity problem; identity problem; disability; intergenerational justice; autonomy; non-domination; procreative responsibility; parenthood

Chapter.  14965 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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