By Bryan Caplan
[I]f you take seriously the notion that the utility of not being born is
less than the utility of being born, it seems to me that the moral
imperative is for everyone who is capable to be reproducing at the
maximum rate possible, because the marginal utility is likely massive.
Surely the positive marginal utility of a life of poverty with 20
siblings relative to the utility of not being born is greater than the
negative marginal utility of the 20 siblings and parents being burdened
with one more family member. So when do you stop?
[T]here is a huge market failure whereby the unborn are unable to
contract with their potential parents to pay for life. This argues for
taxation of everyone (the set of people who are born) in order to
subsidize reproduction. Yes, we indirectly do some of this already, but
this should trump all other charitable and redistributive concerns.
My reaction to both reductios is the same.
1. If you’re a strict utilitarian or wealth maximizer, Ozimek has merely added two more bullets to the ammunition depot your position already requires you to bite. (Like: Utilitarians with First World incomes are morally obliged to give away virtually all of their income).
2. Adherents of all other moral positions can simply repeat their standard rationales, beginning with, “People who actually exist count a lot more than people who could exist but don’t.”