Essays in Philosophy

Volume 20, Issue 1, January 2019

Is Procreation Immoral?

Trevor Hedberg
Pages 42-65

The Duty to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Limits of Permissible Procreation

Many environmental philosophers have argued that there is an obligation for individuals to reduce their individual carbon footprints. However, few of them have addressed whether this obligation would entail a corresponding duty to limit one’s family size. In this paper, I examine several reasons that one might view procreative acts as an exception to a more general duty to reduce one’s individual greenhouse gas emissions. I conclude that none of these reasons are convincing. Thus, if there is an obligation to reduce one’s unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions, then people should also limit the size of their families when they have the means to do so.