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Ingrid Robeyns: Is Procreation Special?

Colloquium lecture by Ingrid Robeyns (Utrecht), organized by the Department of Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy

According to the moral equivalence thesis, overconsumption and procreation are morally equivalent: there is no morally relevant difference between the use of environmental resources for consumption or for procreation. This paper develops two critiques against the moral equivalence thesis: a capabilitarian argument, and an argument based on human self-understanding. Existing analyses of the moral equivalence thesis have, implicitly or explicitly, started from a version of equality of resources.

I first show that the endorsement of the moral equivalence thesis is dependent on the endorsement of equality of resources. If one endorses a capabilitarian metric of distributive justice, it is possible to reject the moral equivalence thesis. Support of the moral equivalence thesis thus depends on the prior issue whether a resourcist or a capabilitarian theory of justice is endorsed. The second argument shows that procreation is different from non-basic consumption because procreation is part of our human self-understanding, whereas non-basic consumption is not. However, his argument requires us to move beyond the liberal paradigm in which this debate has been held so far. If the argument from human self-understanding is right, it follows that the moral equivalence thesis should be rejected.

When & where?

Wednesday 21 November, 3.15-5pm
Faculty of Philosophy, room Omega

Last modified:02 March 2018 11.11 a.m.