The Population Ethics Asymmetry and the Permissibility of Procreation
Thursday 2 December, 2021at 13:15 - 15:00
The Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies invites you to the annual Burman lectures in philosophy. This years invited lecturer is Professor Jeff McMahan, University of Oxford. He will give three open lectures over three days on the topic "The Ethics of Creating, Saving, and Ending Lives".
Lecture 2: The Population Ethics Asymmetry and the Permissibility of Procreation
Thursday December 2, 13.15-15.00, Hörsal NAT.D.450
Abstract: Many people accept that there is a moral reason to cause a better-off person to exist rather than a different, less well-off person. I will argue that most of those who do not already accept this claim ought to do so since, because of Parfit’s Non-Identity Problem, it provides the only plausible basis for a strong moral objection to causing future people to suffer a great range of bad effects as a consequence of such phenomena as climate change. I will also argue, however, that it is difficult to identify an account of the nature of the reason to cause a better-off rather than a less well-off person to exist that is compatible with the common sense view that there is no moral reason to cause a person to exist just because that person’s life would be well worth living. This puts pressure on us to reject this latter view, which, I will argue, is also incompatible with another common sense view with which it is often paired – namely, that there is a strong moral reason not to cause a person to exist if that person’s life would be intrinsically bad, or not worth living.
More Burman lectures
Lecture 1: Abortion, Prenatal Injury, and What Matters in Alternative Possible Lives Wednesday December 1, 13.15-15.00, Hörsal NAT.D.450
Lecture 3: Moral Reasons to Cause People to Exist Friday December 3, 13.15-15.00, Hörsal NAT.D.450