The Hypothetical Consent Objection to Anti-Natalism

A very common but untested assumption is that potential children would consent to be exposed to the harms of existence in order to experience its benefits (if it were possible for us to ask and for them to respond). And so, would-be parents might appeal to the following view: Procreation is all-thin...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Ethical theory and moral practice
Main Author: Singh, Asheel
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: Springer Science + Business Media B. V [2018]
In:Ethical theory and moral practice
Year: 2018, Volume: 21, Issue: 5, Pages: 1135-1150
Further subjects:B Dignity
B Paternalism
B Procreative ethics
B Seana Shiffrin
B Anti-natalism
B David Benatar
B Hypothetical consent
Online Access: Volltext (Resolving-System)
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Summary:A very common but untested assumption is that potential children would consent to be exposed to the harms of existence in order to experience its benefits (if it were possible for us to ask and for them to respond). And so, would-be parents might appeal to the following view: Procreation is all-things-considered permissible, as it is morally acceptable for one to knowingly harm an unconsenting patient if one has good reasons for assuming her hypothetical consent-and procreators can indeed reasonably rely on some notion of hypothetical consent. I argue that this view is in error. My argument appeals to a consent-based version of anti-natalism advanced by Seana Valentine Shiffrin. Anti-natalism is the view that it is (almost) always wrong to bring people (and perhaps all sentient beings) into existence. While, like Shiffrin, I stop short of advocating a thoroughgoing anti-natalism, I nevertheless argue that procreators cannot appeal to hypothetical consent to justify exposing children to the harms of existence. I end by suggesting a more promising route by which this justification might be achieved.
ISSN:1572-8447
Contains:Enthalten in: Ethical theory and moral practice
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1007/s10677-018-9952-0