Two Varieties of “Better-For” Judgements

  • Peter Herissone-KellyEmail author
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 35)


This paper argues against Julian Savulescu’s principle of procreative beneficence. It maintains that prospective parents have no obligation at all to choose the child, out of a range of possible children, who is likely to lead the best life. This is because a standpoint that the author labels “the internal perspective” is a perfectly appropriate one for parents to adopt when thinking about their own future children. It is only policy makers who are obliged to take up an opposing standpoint—“the external perspective”—and to be motivated by the sorts of “better for” judgements that that perspective delivers.


Principle of procreative beneficence Savulescu Parenthood Prospective parents 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aristotle. 1984. Nicomachean ethics. In The complete works of Aristotle, volume two, ed. J. Barnes. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Glover, J. 2006. Choosing children: The ethical dimensions of genetic intervention. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  3. Herissone-Kelly, P. 2006. Procreative beneficence and the prospective parent. Journal of Medical Ethics 32(3): 166–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Parfit, D. 1976. Rights, interests and possible people. In Moral problems in medicine, ed. S. Gorovitz, 373–74. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  5. Parfit, D. 1984. Reasons and persons. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Parker, M. 2007. The best possible child. Journal of Medical Ethics 33(5): 279–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Savulescu, J. 2001. Procreative beneficence: Why we should select the best children. Bioethics 15(5/6): 413–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Savulescu, J. 2007. In defence of procreative beneficence. Journal of Medical Ethics 33(5): 284–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Stern-Gillet, S. 1995. Aristotle’s philosophy of friendship. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  10. Vehmas, S. 2001. Assent and selective abortion: A response to Rhodes and Häyry. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 10(4): 433–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy Section, International School for Communities, Rights, and InclusionUniversity of Central LancashireUK
  2. 2.University of BoltonUK

Personalised recommendations