The procreation asymmetry, improvable-life avoidance and impairable-life acceptance

Analysis 83 (3):517-526 (2023)
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Many philosophers are attracted to a complaints-based theory of the procreation asymmetry, according to which creating a person with a bad life is wrong (all else equal) because that person can complain about your act, whereas declining to create a person who would have a good life is not wrong (all else equal) because that person never exists and so cannot complain about your act. In this paper, I present two problems for such theories: the problem of impairable-life acceptance and an especially acute version of the problem of improvable-life avoidance. I explain how these problems afflict two recent complaints-based theories of the procreation asymmetry, from Joe Horton and Abelard Podgorski.

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Elliott Thornley
Oxford University


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