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A compelling argument for the morality of limitations on procreation in lessening the harmful effects of unchecked population growth issue
We live in a world where a burgeoning global population has started to have a major and deleterious environmental impact, leading to climate change and the struggle for limited resources being inevitable aspects of a difficult future. Many see mandatory population control as a possible last resort to combat this problem, but also a potentially immoral and undesirable violation of human rights. With the prevalent consideration of procreation as components of the right to personal happiness and anatomy, the view remains that the government does not have the right to impose on its own citizens for the sake of future people who have yet to exist.
Though others have argued for the permissibility of voluntarily limiting ourselves to one child per couple, Sarah Conly is first to make the contentious argument that not only is it wrong to have more than one child in the face of such concerns, we do not even retain the right to do so. In OneChild, Conly proposes that personal rights are not unlimited, especially if one's body may cause harm to anyone, and that the government has a moral obligation to protect both current and future citizens. Through her accessible style, Conly gives readers a thought-provoking exposure to the issue of population growth and develops a well-organized defense of moral obligation to generations both present and future.
Sarah Conly is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Bowdoin College and the author of Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism (2012).