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Is it Moral To Reproduce?

  1. profile image0
    Sooner28posted 4 years ago

    This is solely for an intellectual exercise, and to get people thinking.  I'm not making any judgments one way or the other.  I also think I am going to write a hub about this eventually.

    The first claim I'm going to defend is that almost every parent is directly responsible for the death of their children.

    The second claim I am going to defend is that unlimited reproduction will destroy the habitability of the earth.

    Responsible for death

    The famous existentialist Jean Paul Sartre claims we are condemned to be free, because we did not choose to exist; but since we do exist, we are condemned to deal with the fact that we are radically free.

    I was thinking about this point the other day, and birth came to my mind.  Not only are we condemned to to be free, but condemned to exist, and, condemned to die.

    But, it is also claimed that being responsible for the death of another, without constraints like self-defense, is immoral.  Is this not what all parents are?  If the parents had not reproduced, the child would not be alive, but the child also would not someday die.  So, by reproducing, every parent is ensuring their child will someday die.  Thus, parents who reproduce are directly responsible for the death of their own children.

    This argument could be mitigated if science discovers a way to "cheat" death.  But for now, that isn't likely.

    1.  Any unjustified action that is responsible for the death of another is immoral.

            a.  This isn't the controversial premise.  If you disagree, I'd be interested to hear why.

    2.  Reproducing is an unjustified action that is responsible for the death of another.

           a.  The child never gets the choice of whether to "try out life" and see if they like it; it is simply thrust upon them.  This life then will ensure they die.  I don't see how that is justified, at least based on the first premise.

    3.  Therefore reproducing is immoral.

    Destruction

    This one is pretty straight forward.

    1.  If human beings continue to reproduce, then they will destroy the habitability of earth (at least for themselves and many other animals, but not necessarily living thing).

            a.  More people means more consumption, and more consumption means reduced habitability, no matter how "green" you are.

    2.  Human beings are continuing to reproduce.

           a.  This is meant overall, not specifically the United States.

    3.  Therefore, the habitability of the earth will eventually be destroyed.

    4.  Destroying the habitability of the planet is immoral.

    5.  Therefore, reproducing is immoral.



    ,

    1. profile image0
      Emile Rposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      This has to be ones of the strangest arguments you've presented, imo. I suppose, if you ignore the benefits of life you could reasonably argue that eventual death somehow is the responsibly of the parent. But, it would be difficult to convince any sane person to ignore everything except your argument.

      So, no. I see no immorality in reproduction.

      1. profile image0
        Sooner28posted 4 years ago in reply to this

        Lol.  I am known to present strange arguments.

        You wouldn't have to ignore the benefits of life though.  My parents are responsible for my death, and yours for yours, and the benefits wouldn't disappear.

        I'm not sure exactly what you disagree with though.  Which premise do you find unacceptable?

        1. profile image0
          Emile Rposted 4 years ago in reply to this

          I suppose I disagree with your statement that parents are responsible for the death of a child. By taking no action, whatsoever, the natural course of life creates life.  Nature is not immoral. And, spanstar made a good point. One has to be sapient in order to ponder morals. A potential life can't be included in the equation. So, again nothing immoral happened, in regards to the baby, before its appearance on the scene, no matter at what point you decide it is an individual. Once it becomes life in its own right it can blame anyone for anything. But, only a fool would cast blame on the simple fact of birth.

          1. profile image0
            Sooner28posted 4 years ago in reply to this

            The baby itself is not responsible for creating itself is it?  The parents made the choice to reproduce, and by making that choice, they are responsible for the death of their own child.

            There's also no way to plead ignorance either.  Every parent knows that when they reproduce someday their child will die.

            1. profile image0
              Emile Rposted 4 years ago in reply to this

              I truly hope this is an argument for argument's sake. So, planned parenthood is immoral. What if, it was an accident? Is that immoral? In the case of pregnancy resulting from rape, is the woman immoral, or just the attacker? Say a woman gets pregnant, doesn't want to be immoral and has an abortion. Is the abortion more moral than carrying the baby to term; or is she doubly immoral?

              Maybe, having sperm and eggs makes us immoral simply because we have the potential to create life. Should we sterilize ourselves?

              1. profile image0
                Sooner28posted 4 years ago in reply to this

                I'm pro-choice, so this isn't a problem for me.  A fetus is not a human being for obvious reasons, so what matters is actually having the child.  The only time a woman cannot be held accountable is if abortion is completely illegal so one is not even available, and the pregnancy wasn't her choice (rape, or an accident).   If the pregnancy wasn't her choice, then she should obviously get an abortion, assuming my argument is correct.

                If you are pro-life though, there is no way to escape this.   Pro-lifers believe the fetus is a human being, for very odd reasons, so an abortion is the direct murder of another human being.  Why all pro-lifers don't advocate for women to go to prison for murder is beyond me, because it's a direct implication of their position.

                Anyway, there's no escape because an abortion is immoral, but so would reproducing.  I can't accept the argument that wanting sex gives one license to be directly responsible for the death of another, so if one knows that the society one lives is has outlawed abortion, direct vaginal sex could only be possible if the man or woman has been "fixed."  Otherwise,  the chance of a pregnancy is too great a risk, because getting pregnant ensures two people (as long as the woman isn't raped) are responsible for the death of another.

                1. profile image0
                  Emile Rposted 4 years ago in reply to this

                  So, this isn't an argument for argument's sake. Well, I find you're position incredibly odd. I don't think pro lifer's have odd reasons for thinking life starts at conception. Although I am strongly pro choice, I understand their argument, and sympathize. But, the rights of the woman involved supersede our rights to assume things that can't be proven. 

                  I see nothing compelling in your argument. Life and death are inextricably tied. Death being inevitable does not imply that giving life is immoral. I would think if you had an option between giving the opportunity for existence and condemning to non existence, condemning to non existence would be the less moral choice.

                  1. profile image0
                    Sooner28posted 4 years ago in reply to this

                    If my argument were accepted, humanity never would've existed, because the first humans capable of entertaining such thoughts would stop reproducing immediately.   I don't know how I feel about that.  The way history is going, I have a feeling I'm going to wish the first humans had done such a thing.

                    I don't really know if I believe it or not.  I do believe in the second argument about the future of the planet, but the first one does seem wrong, though I don't know exactly what is wrong with it.

                    And I don't know what this talk is of condemning to non-existence.  If you never get pregnant in the first place, there is no "thing" to condemn to non-existence.  It's like asking me how I felt in 1850.  I wasn't alive; I had no consciousness.  There is nothing immoral about it.

    2. Titen-Sxull profile image93
      Titen-Sxullposted 4 years ago in reply to this

      This is actually a subject that interests me because of how much of a gray area exists here. On the one hand we are organisms, basically vehicles for genes seeking to reproduce themselves. Thus we have evolved powerful instinctual, physical and emotional drives towards reproductive behavior. Offspring can bring us joy, happiness, and a sure future for our species.

      And yet there are a lot of us and given that our life expectancy is only going to get better as science and medicine advance we are quickly going to run into a problem of having too many people. There are those who think the population will stabilize to some degree, however not until we hit 10+ billion people and by that point the Earth will be at max capacity, perhaps beyond.

      If we had been working on our space program instead of continuing to bicker as individual nations you might be able to make an argument that having a child is moral. It is possible that, given our immaturity as a species and inability to look ahead into the far-flung future, its immoral to bring children into the world. Perhaps an argument could be made to replace yourself (ie just have one child) and than stop procreating but other than that it's hard to see it as moral.

      And yet it is ALSO immoral to stop people who want to have children from doing so. I think our best bet lies in better sex education and the proliferation of contraception and pornography (to diminish overpopulation). And also we need to get off this damn planet ASAP and colonize space, not just because of overpopulation and pollution but let's not forget about asteroids.

      As for the existential issue I can't really see it as immoral in that sense.

      As the great Eric Idle once said, "You know, you come from nothing, you're going back to nothing, what've you lost? Nothing!"

      The two, being born and eventually dying, essentially cancel each other out. All things gained will eventually be lost, that's simple entropy. If anything its a net-gain, because the material that makes up your body has become part of something complex and wonderful, and been able to experience consciousness, self-awareness, if even for a brief time. How is that not BETTER than just remaining non-living material?

      1. profile image0
        Sooner28posted 4 years ago in reply to this

        So the way I understand your response, you are first addressing the second argument, and then the first.  If I misinterpret you at any point, I apologize.

        "This is actually a subject that interests me because of how much of a gray area exists here. On the one hand we are organisms, basically vehicles for genes seeking to reproduce themselves. Thus we have evolved powerful instinctual, physical and emotional drives towards reproductive behavior. Offspring can bring us joy, happiness, and a sure future for our species.

        And yet there are a lot of us and given that our life expectancy is only going to get better as science and medicine advance we are quickly going to run into a problem of having too many people. There are those who think the population will stabilize to some degree, however not until we hit 10+ billion people and by that point the Earth will be at max capacity, perhaps beyond.

        If we had been working on our space program instead of continuing to bicker as individual nations you might be able to make an argument that having a child is moral. It is possible that, given our immaturity as a species and inability to look ahead into the far-flung future, its immoral to bring children into the world. Perhaps an argument could be made to replace yourself (ie just have one child) and than stop procreating but other than that it's hard to see it as moral."


        I think replacement value is a concept that is a little bit misleading.  Say you have one child, so there is "replacement value."  That child still needs resources to live, such as food, health care, clothing, and shelter.  These resources are still used no matter what, and that is the main problem.  There are now two people using resources instead of one, had you never had a child at all.  Add to this the longer life expectancies of people and the already bloated population, like you mentioned, and it's still a recipe for trouble.

        There are always arguments about the ends not justifying the ends.  What if the ends are the very survival of all human beings?  My intuition is against a China like policy of one child, but at the same time, doing nothing is going to kill EVERYONE, because people don't seem responsible enough to take this problem into consideration when making decisions about reproduction.  If our entire ecosystem is polluted beyond the ability of humans to meaningfully use it, where are we if we didn't stop people from reproducing?  I don't know the answer to this problem.

        "As for the existential issue I can't really see it as immoral in that sense.

        As the great Eric Idle once said, "You know, you come from nothing, you're going back to nothing, what've you lost? Nothing!"

        The two, being born and eventually dying, essentially cancel each other out. All things gained will eventually be lost, that's simple entropy. If anything its a net-gain, because the material that makes up your body has become part of something complex and wonderful, and been able to experience consciousness, self-awareness, if even for a brief time. How is that not BETTER than just remaining non-living material?"


        I'm not clear which premise you disagree with.  I highly doubt it's the first one, so it must be the second. 

        Are you claiming reproducing is justified even though it's responsible for the death of another?  Or that my premise would be true if reproduction was actually responsible for the death of another,but it actually isn't?

  2. SpanStar profile image60
    SpanStarposted 4 years ago

    Interesting premise and is much as I would like to see death done away with but the fact of the matter is Everything, Everything on this planet dies. Grass that grows dies, roses dies, vegetation dies. How can these things be moral or immoral when they don't have a mind as we understand it.

    1. profile image0
      Sooner28posted 4 years ago in reply to this

      Well, death in and of itself is not immoral, as long as God doesn't exist, and the death wasn't avoidable.

      So a female dog has puppies, and those puppies all die.  I think that, since there is no intelligent creator of the universe, this is probably an "amoral" event, assuming the puppies die of old age.

      I'm also presupposing the general moral framework most people use, that taking the life of another person is morally wrong, and while the parent is not "taking the life" of the child, the parent is ensuring the child will die someday by having it, so the parent is directly responsible for the child's death.

      1. SpanStar profile image60
        SpanStarposted 4 years ago in reply to this

        According to the dictionary morals involves right and wrong. This idea of right and wrong comes from a conscience mind so then the question has to be asked who ascertains what is right and what is wrong?

        With out a spiritual being does right and wrong really matter? If right and wrong is determined by how we think if I see you as a threat am I not right for taking your life? So what does morals have to do with me defending myself?

        1. A Troubled Man profile image61
          A Troubled Manposted 4 years ago in reply to this

          Reason and rationale decides what is right or wrong, and when there is a vast majority of folks in a society who deem one's actions wrong, they usually make laws.



          There are no spiritual beings that have ever been shown to exist, hence the question is moot.



          People never take the time to think about what's right or wrong when their lives are being threatened, they simply act from survival instincts. The morality of what they did is usually determined afterwards in a court of law.

          1. SpanStar profile image60
            SpanStarposted 4 years ago in reply to this

            Whose reason and whose rationale? What makes to one's decision more correct than another?

            Can you prove there's never been any spiritual beings? People have no evidence of outerspace aliens yet they believe in their existence.

            If the basis by which people live is right and wrong shouldn't thinking about one's action B primary in people's minds?

            1. A Troubled Man profile image61
              A Troubled Manposted 4 years ago in reply to this

              The people in any given society. Who else?



              So what? People believe in all sorts of ridiculous things, none of them having any basis in reality.

              People who understand (not believe) that there are other worlds with life on them do indeed have evidence. It is not something they just pulled out of thin air, like your gods.

        2. profile image0
          Sooner28posted 4 years ago in reply to this

          All we can do is argue about principles, and then apply them to real life cases to see how our intuitions hold up.  That's the best humanity can do, and has EVER done.  People just use God to try and give their own beliefs about morality more authority than they actually should possess.

  3. gmwilliams profile image83
    gmwilliamsposted 4 years ago

    Sooner, as the contrarian in this forum, I am going to say that it is only moral to reproduce when certain conditions are apropros.  Parents must possess the prerequisite morality and financial conditions to produce children.  Children should be born into emotionally, psychological, and financially stable environment in order for them to reach their utmost human potential.     

    There are people who unthinkingly have children without considered the abovementioned ramifications.  This mindless and unthinking reproduction result in many of our societal ills such as poverty with its related pathologies.  While people in the past have an instinctual premise to reproduce, today people should have the thought and intelligence to mindfully reproduce.   Parenthood should no longer be a unmitigated right but a privilege.  This is why there should be a license for parenthood, there are too many people who have no business becoming parents.

    1. profile image0
      Sooner28posted 4 years ago in reply to this

      I agree with all of that, and it probably would reduce the problem of overpopulation in terms of resources, though I don't think it would completely solve it.

  4. SpanStar profile image60
    SpanStarposted 4 years ago

    Your exercise may be compelling but the actuality of what you're suggesting isn't valid.

    In order to be held responsible one has to in some degree or another of fact that action, who controls death? If a person places a loaded gun on a coffee table then unexpectedly an earthquake occurs causing the gun to fall off the table and shoot an innocent bystander is the gun owner responsible for having shot this bystander?

  5. Jerami profile image74
    Jeramiposted 4 years ago

    If someone shot and killed Adolph Hitler when he was 12 years old, would that have been an imoral act?

 
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