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Course Catalog

700.702.11 the Ethics of Making Babies

Berman Institute (Bioethics)
Summer Inst. term
2 credits
Academic Year:
2017 - 2018
East Baltimore
Mon 06/18/2018 - Fri 06/22/2018
Class Times:
  • M Tu W Th F,  1:30 - 4:20pm
Auditors Allowed:
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Travis Rieder
Course Instructor:
  • Travis N. Rieder
Frequency Schedule:
One Year Only

There is good reason to believe that the world is now overpopulated, and that human numbers are exacerbating other serious global problems, such as food security, fresh water shortage, and climate change. Could such facts about sustainability generate moral burdens on individuals not to have kids? Or not to have too many? Are there other good moral reasons not to have children? Or limits to how we should make children?

The assumption behind this course is that, uncomfortable or not, the arguments concerning the morality of procreation are too powerful to ignore. The primary goal in this class, then, is to ask and begin to answer the question, Is it permissible to create a new child?

Examines one of the most morally significant decisions people face: whether or not to create a new person. Explores our pronatal outlook—a positive moral outlook on the activity of making babies. Considers why it is uncomfortable, and perhaps even threatening, to suggest that procreation is an activity that is subject to a whole variety of moral requirements. Engages students in asking and beginning to answer the question, is it permissible to create a new child.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify and formulate a rigorous argument
  2. Engage critically with an argument that you encounter
  3. Empathetically and charitably dialogue with an interlocutor on an important and personal issue
  4. Defend a substantive position on the permissibility of procreation
Methods of Assessment:

Participation: 20%, In class presentations: 20%, Outline: 10%, Final Paper: 50%

Instructor Consent:

No consent required

Special Comments:

Students are required to complete assignments prior to the start of class. The final assignment will be due on July 20, 2018 Course meets in Deering Hall; LLC Room