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Overpopulation and Procreative Liberty
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy. La Trobe University, Australia.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5606-3201
Number of Authors: 12019 (English)In: Ethics, Policy & Environment, ISSN 2155-0085, E-ISSN 2155-0093, Vol. 22, no 3, p. 319-330Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A few decades ago, there was a lively debate on the problem of overpopulation. Various proposals to limit population growth and to control fertility were made and debated both in academia and in the public sphere. In the intervening decades, however, the idea of limiting population growth became taboo in policy discussions and was completely ignored in philosophy. More recently, there has been a small revival of anti-natalism in population policy and social philosophy. This is in part due to the growing recognition that the demographic transition might not be completed all around the world before overpopulation causes irreversible social, political, or environmental harm. Several proposals have been made to limit family size and lower fertility. However, all of these proposals are based on incentives only, and all are strictly voluntary: in their discussion, involuntary fertility control is considered coercive and therefore thought to necessarily involve a gross violation of procreative liberty and personal autonomy. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that anti-natalist population policies need not involve the violation of procreative liberty and personal autonomy. To show this, I revive two radical proposals from the old debate. The first involves mandatory long-term contraception; the second involves the introduction of tradeable procreation entitlements. I show that contrary to what many people believe, these policies can be defended on the basis of broadly liberal principles. Not only do they not conflict with procreative liberty and personal autonomy, but they can actually increase liberty and promote autonomy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 22, no 3, p. 319-330
Keywords [en]
Population growth, anti-natalism, involuntary fertility control, personal autonomy, liberalism
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-175719DOI: 10.1080/21550085.2019.1652232ISI: 000491349000008OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-175719DiVA, id: diva2:1369268
Available from: 2019-11-11 Created: 2019-11-11 Last updated: 2020-03-05Bibliographically approved

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