Dr Simon Beard contributes to an article in the University of Cambridge's Horizons magazine.
The decision about if and when to have children can be one of the most significant many people will ever make. But – for those who have the choice – what influences come into play, and how have these changed over time?
As a moral philosopher, Simon Beard has thought deeply about the ethics of having children. He’s troubled by the simplistic way that many people talk about such an important decision – or don’t talk about it at all.
"People want to see it as a private decision, and believe they should be able to do whatever they want,” he says. “But throughout history, the decision to have children has always been strongly influenced by social and ethical values. A lot of people have children because they think it’s what other people want, whether parents or partners. They’re brought up with views about what good families look like. They’re influenced by their religious upbringing, or ideas about their career, or what stage they’re at in life.”