Procreation and parenting are momentous human activities. They involve the creation of new lives and then, when done appropriately, the protection and nurturing of those lives until, all going well, they become independent adults. The immense significance of these activities is all too often obscured by their frequency. Millions of children are brought into existence each year and there are billions of children who are being (or in need of being) reared. The moral significance of activities that are as common as these and that are readily open, at the very least, to anybody with functional genitals, is routinely underestimated.
This volume is an addition to the growing philosophical literature on these topics. We make no claims to comprehensiveness. No book of reasonable length could do that, and this volume is slimmer than many. Instead, our aim is to add new contributions on the twin topics of procreation and parenthood, thereby augmenting the existing literature with some novel papers.
To compensate for the specialized nature of the chapters in this book, our Introduction is intended to situate these contributions in the broader body of philosophical writing on the two areas covered by this collection. Those who are already intimately familiar with this philosophical terrain will find less need for the overview, but others may find our map useful.
We are grateful to our co‐contributors to this volume. They have written on related topics before and we appreciate their willingness to contribute new work for this collection. Special thanks also go to Avery Kolers, a reader for Oxford University Press, who provided detailed and extremely insightful comments on multiple drafts of most of the chapters. Our contributors have indicated their own thanks to him, but we add ours.
(p.vi) Finally, Tim Bayne's chapter criticizes the views of one of us (D.B.). While philosophers tend to prefer having their views criticized to having their views ignored, they are also tempted to respond to criticism. In this case, the temptation has been resisted, at least in this book. This is motivated by the judgement that it would be better to respond in a volume of which one is not the (co‐)editor.