An actualist explanation of the procreation asymmetry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


While morality prohibits us from creating miserable children, it does not require us to create happy children. I offer an actualist explanation of this apparent asymmetry. Assume that for every possible world W, there is a distinct set of permissibility facts determined by the welfare of those who exist in W. Moral actualism says that actual-world permissibility facts should determine one's choice between worlds. But if one doesn't know which world is actual, one must aim for subjective rightness and maximize expected actual-world permissibility. So, because one should expect actual people to be worse off than they could have been if one creates a miserable child, creating a miserable child is subjectively impermissible. And because one should expect actual people to be at least as well off as they could have been if one fails to create a happy child, failing to create a happy child is subjectively permissible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-89
Number of pages19
Issue number1
Early online date18 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


Grant Number

  • DP110101810

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