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Title: Procreative justice : the ethics of creating and raising children
Author: Magnusson, Erik
ISNI:       0000 0004 6497 4605
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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Despite its immense personal significance, procreation is an inherently other-regarding endeavor. By its very nature, the decision to procreate is the decision to bring into existence another morally considerable being, one who will be exposed to the full range of harms, benefits, and risks that accompany a typical human life, and one who cannot by its nature ever consent to being born. Moreover, when this decision is undertaken in a community of persons, it is also a decision to affect the lives of others in a host of profound (if often underappreciated) ways, from its effects on population size and environmental sustainability, to its consequences for a community's distribution of resources. In many cases, of course, these interests coincide: adults need children for their parenting projects, societies need citizens for the maintenance of their institutions, and children themselves are often happy to have been brought into existence. However, as a burgeoning literature is beginning to demonstrate, the various interests that are implicated by procreative decision-making can also come into conflict as well, and in ways that raise basic questions of justice. This thesis explores five of these questions, and in so doing, seeks to contribute to our understanding of the normative significance of procreation. Chapter One considers the relationship between procreation and child welfare, asking what role (if any) prospective children's interests play in limiting the scope of the right to procreate. Chapters Two and Three consider the relationship between procreation and parenthood, asking whether the act of creating a child generates special rights and/or obligations to parent that child. Chapter Four considers how the significant costs of procreation and parenting ought to be distributed through society, asking whether parents are responsible for paying the full cost of their childrearing projects, or whether childrearing costs should be shared in some way among parents and non-parents alike. Finally, Chapter Five considers our moral obligations to orphaned children, asking whether it is permissible to create new children in conditions where there are already existing children in need of parental care. While numerous positions are defended on each of these interrelated questions, one general conclusion runs through all of them: rather than being viewed as something that is immune from moral scrutiny, or as something that individuals have an unqualified right to do, procreation ought to be viewed as the site of potentially conflicting interests that must be carefully balanced against one another.
Supervisor: Caney, Simon L. R. Sponsor: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political science ; Children's Rights ; Family Justice ; Procreative Ethics ; Intergenerational Justice