Wronging Future Children

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Abstract
The dominant framework for addressing procreative ethics has revolved around the notion of harm, largely due to Derek Parfit’s famous non-identity problem. Focusing exclusively on the question of harm treats what procreators owe their offspring as akin to what they would owe strangers (if they owe them anything at all). Procreators, however, usually expect (and are expected) to parent the persons they create, so we cannot understand what procreators owe their offspring without also appealing to their role as prospective parents. I argue that prospective parents can wrong their future children just by failing to act well in their role as parents, whether or not their offspring are ultimately harmed or benefitted by their creation. Their obligations as prospective parents bear on the motivations behind their reproductive choices, including the choice to select for some genetic trait in their offspring. Even when procreators’ motivations aren’t malicious, or purely selfish, they can still fail to recognize and act for the end of the parental role. Procreators can wrong their offspring by selecting for some genetic trait, then, when doing so would violate their obligations as prospective parents, or when their motivation for doing so is antithetical to the end of the parental role.
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Archival date: 2019-06-21
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2019-06-20

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