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A terrific and very accessible exchange between two highly accomplished philosophers that will not only provide readers with an excellent sense of the broader debate on procreative ethics but also introduce them to two original and contrasting contributions to that debate. (David Archard, Queen's University, Belfast)
While Benatar advances probing arguments for the unusual view that all procreation is impermissible, Wasserman's carefully reasoned case for the permissibility of procreation is qualified in ways that many readers will find surprising. Both authors are highly distinguished philosophers whom it is exciting to follow as they develop and defend their clashing positions on the range of important issues they address. (Jeff McMahan, University of Oxford)
Both incredibly well-written and full of new insight, Debating Procreation is the best that has yet been done on the difficult topic of procreative ethics. (Melinda Roberts, The College of New Jersey)
In this concise volume, Benatar and Wasserman advance the procreative ethics debate clearly, provocatively, and innovatively. Each develops his side of the debate with originality, cogency, and wit, and engages with the latest arguments in the field. The problem is that they are both persuasive. (Rivka Weinberg, Scripps College)
Debating Procreation: Is It Wrong to Reproduce? contains an excellent introduction to many of the ideas central to truly fascinating debates about the moral permissibility of progeny. (Allen Thompson, Analysis)
The book is a pleasure to read (Lorraine Yeung, Philosophical Quarterly)
While procreation is ubiquitous, attention to the ethical issues involved in creating children is relatively rare. In Debating Procreation, David Benatar and David Wasserman take opposing views on this important question. David Benatar argues for the anti-natalist view that it is always wrong to bring new people into existence. He argues that coming into existence is always a serious harm and that even if it were not always so, the risk of serious harm is sufficiently great to make procreation wrong. In addition to these "philanthropic" arguments, he advances the "misanthropic" one that because humans are so defective and cause vast amounts of harm, it is wrong to create more of them.
David Wasserman defends procreation against the anti-natalist challenge. He outlines a variety of moderate pro-natalist positions, which all see procreation as often permissible but never required. After criticizing the main anti-natalist arguments, he reviews those pronatalist positions. He argues that constraints on procreation are best understood in terms of the role morality of prospective parents, considers different views of that role morality, and argues for one that imposes only limited constraints based on the well-being of the future child. He then argues that the expected good of a future child and of the parent-child relationship can provide a strong justification for procreation in the face of expected adversities without giving individuals any moral reason to procreate
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