The Limits of Reproductive Freedom

From Atlanta Philosophy Events:

On Wednesday January 9, 2008, at 3 PM, the Jean Beer Blumenfeld Center
for Ethics will sponsor a colloquium by Professor David Benatar
(Philosophy, University of Cape Town) entitled "The Limits of
Reproductive Freedom."

Date/time/location: Jan 9, 2008, 3 PM, in the Philosophy Department
Conference Room (34 Peachtree, 11th floor, #19 at B-6 on the map at

Prof. Benatar’s abstract is included below:

"The Limits of Reproductive Freedom," by David Benatar

Abstract: In this presentation I shall argue that the strength or scope
of the right to reproductive freedom currently recognized in liberal
democracies needs to be reconsidered, such that it does not include a
right to engage in very risky or harmful procreation. More specifically,
I argue that if there would be no right to impose risk X of harm Y to
some other person in non-reproductive contexts, then there should be no
right to do so in reproductive contexts. Thus, some (but not all)
methods, including some coercive methods, of preventing or discouraging
such reproduction are morally acceptable.

I consider two main arguments against my thesis. First, I consider the
non-identity argument that future people cannot be harmed by being
brought into existence. Second, and in much more detail, I consider the
argument that although the interests of future people are important,
these ought to be outweighed by their parents* right to reproductive
freedom. After discerning different senses of a right to reproductive
freedom, I consider four arguments for the special importance of
reproductive freedom. I argue that none of them are sufficient to
undermine my thesis.

Because of the long history of bias and arbitrary discrimination in
curtailments of reproductive freedom, I suggest how bias might be
avoided in deciding how severe a harm must be to defeat a right to
reproductive freedom.

Memento mori