• schopenhauer1
    10.1k
    It can’t be conception because there as yet no human being to impose upon. It cannot be in gestation because the child is being nurtured and nourished in a life-sustaining environment, without which is suffering and death. Should the mother worry about his consent as he dines on her placenta? Is it the cutting of the umbilical cord? It goes away naturally anyways. Breast feeding? Diaper changing? Imagine the child’s well-being if we didn’t do any of the above.NOS4A2

    Red herring. The argument doesn’t revolve around when the person is said to exist, just that it occurs.
  • NOS4A2
    8.4k


    Which act is the imposition, then?
  • schopenhauer1
    10.1k
    Which act is the imposition, then?NOS4A2

    Being born is the imposition. Doesn’t matter how you define it’s origin.
  • NOS4A2
    8.4k


    Being pushed out of the womb? But if he isn’t pushed out of the womb, wouldn’t suffering and death occur?
  • schopenhauer1
    10.1k

    Not sure what you’re getting at. Suffering and death doesn’t occur if not born. Again doesn’t matter how you define that. It’s slowly moving the argument to when life starts which doesn’t need to be established for it being true that someone is born but there can be a counterfactual where this is not the case. In, fact, death and suffering result directly from the imposition of birth. It’s a main feature of this imposition.
  • NOS4A2
    8.4k


    The only way to stop birth is abortion or death of the child, which is an imposition on the child.
  • Tzeentch
    3.4k
    It can’t be conception because there as yet no human being to impose upon.NOS4A2

    I'd say conception is the point, and I've already pointed out why I disagree with your objection..

    At the point of conception there is no human being yet, however the first step has been taken in creating one.

    As such, our behavior needs to be seen in relation to the future states it causes, which, as I argued, is a perfectly suitable basis for moral evaluation, since all our behavior is aimed at future states.
  • NOS4A2
    8.4k


    I appreciate the arguments. I’m going to make my case anyways.

    We do worry about the future states of others, the burdens, the impositions. Life can be tough. It’s difficult to justify having a child in these interesting times, to be honest. There is loss and suffering in many conceivable future states. But someone could just as easily conceive of future states containing joy and pleasure and make the same sort of leap that birth causes pleasure. I won’t do that.

    My main contention is the ethics angle. I just can’t see how refusing to have a child is anything but a self-satisfying endeavor. I can’t see that this behavior is ethical and moral insofar as it protects someone or alleviates anyone’s suffering, because one can do it alone without interacting with a single person his entire life. Just looking at this behavior is enough to prove that the suffering they are concerned with is forever their own. It all seems like a glorified justification for jerking off into a napkin. But worse, implying that parents are harming their child by conceiving him, birthing him, and nurturing him for a prolonged period of his life is unjust. I can’t abide by it.

    As for the imposition of conception, looking around at the biological processes involved in it I can’t find anyone imposing anything on anyone else. Everything appears to be doing what it is willing to do. The same is true for gestation and birth. The only imposition that could arise, I think, are the ones threatening to halt this process.

    Anyways, it’s probably too far off topic to go on about it.
  • Tzeentch
    3.4k
    There is loss and suffering in many conceivable future states. But someone could just as easily conceive of future states containing joy and pleasure and make the same sort of leap that birth causes pleasure.NOS4A2

    True. The problem is that we dont know, which is a serious issue if one believes child-having to be an imposition. Not only are we putting someone in a position that they themselves didn't ask for, but we also don't know if what we're providing them with is actually going to benefit them.

    I just can’t see how refusing to have a child is anything but a self-satisfying endeavor.NOS4A2

    In my view, there's nothing self-serving about it, considering the above-mentioned dilemma.

    In addition, if one from an ethical standpoint wishes to do good onto other people, there are plenty of opportunities for it in life. Opportunities that will allow one to alleviate the suffering of already-existing people in a consensual manner.

    I can’t see that this behavior is ethical and moral insofar as it protects someone or alleviates anyone’s suffering, because one can do it alone without interacting with a single person his entire life.NOS4A2

    If one were to accept that child-having is immoral, then refraining from it isn't necessarily a moral deed, but rather neutral, in the same way as for example 'not stealing' is. You probably wouldn't consider someone a moral person simply for 'not stealing'.

    [...] implying that parents are harming their child by conceiving him, birthing him, and nurturing him for a prolonged period of his life is unjust.NOS4A2

    The sad reality is that there are plenty of individuals to whom this may apply.

    We simply don't know who they will be before they've lived out their lives, and that's essentially the gamble that a parent takes.

    There's a lot of suffering in the world, and while I haven't made up my mind one way or the other, I defend these positions without a shred of joy or satisfaction. It might be a very uncomfortable truth.

    As for the imposition of conception, looking around at the biological processes involved in it I can’t find anyone imposing anything on anyone else.NOS4A2

    Suppose I plant a time-bomb at night on a busy street.

    The next day it blows up and kills a random person.

    That person was nowhere to be found when I planted the bomb.

    Was it therefore not an imposition?
  • I like sushi
    4.3k
    In my view, there's nothing self-serving about it, considering the above-mentioned dilemma.Tzeentch

    Avoiding responsibility is basically what I think he is referring to. No responsibilities means you cannot be blamed for anything or have the ‘burden’ of guilt.

    Actual LIVING is not a ‘burden’. Life is an assault of problems and you frame these ‘problems’ is quite often due to personal attitudes. Attitudes can be altered.

    We could all be paralysed by the idea of stepping foot outside fearing some calamity may fall upon another. The very same can be argued for NOT stepping outside. Being paralysed by fears, guilts or whatever is to refuse to live … it is akin to performing a zombie state of existence where you abscond from any sense of responsibility and dress it up as ‘ethical’.

    Needless to say I think it is a faulty position to hold. I should add that having a child is not a choice anyone should make lightly. Equally so, it is certainly not a ‘selfish’ ploy although it has countless positives with the responsibility it brings. Only someone evil would purposely bring a life into this world and focus on ‘burdening’ such a life rather than focusing on the potential for joy and engagement in the world.
  • Tzeentch
    3.4k
    If not having children amounts to 'avoiding responsibility' that implies we have a responsibility to procreate - I would disagree with that.

    I also dislike the characterization of people as fearful, 'refusing to live', 'zombie state of existence' for asking the question - I think those amount to little more than thinly-veiled personal attacks.

    And it is a little ironic, when in the next sentence you say this about procreation:

    [...] it is certainly not a ‘selfish’ ploy although it has countless positives with the responsibility it brings.I like sushi

    Selectively extending the benefit of the doubt to people who you agree with and not to those you disagree with won't make for a fruitful discussion.

    I could just as easily flip it around: I am taking my responsibility towards my fellow humans (including my would-be children) by deliberating on how my actions (could) impact them. And in doing so, I am not afraid to ask hard questions, and face unwelcome realities.
  • schopenhauer1
    10.1k
    If one were to accept that child-having is immoral, then refraining from it isn't necessarily a moral deed, but rather neutral, in the same way as for example 'not stealing' is. You probably wouldn't consider someone a moral person simply for 'not stealing'.Tzeentch

    @NOS4A2

    :up:

    The sad reality is that there are plenty of individuals to whom this may apply.

    We simply don't know who they will be before they've lived out their lives, and that's essentially the gamble that a parent takes.
    Tzeentch

    I think this is the strongest argument for many people, because it is a prevalent belief (in everyday ethics, not politics) to think in terms of probabilities and not in terms of "rights" or "not treating people as a means to an end". But, though I 100% agree with the gambling argument (you don't know the outcome of that which you will cause for another), it's important to remember the deontological aspect- that you are playing with other people's lives. That is to say, YOU (the potential parent) will be imposing your will onto something that ANOTHER person will incur (rather permanently, and until they die). This is not a light decision, even though the evolutionary mechanism for its cause makes it so easy to bring about.

    Bringing this back to the OP regarding burdens, is it ever okay to burden someone if you think you are doing good either by
    a) from the burden itself (e.g. character building/ struggle overcoming), or
    b) the burden is simply collateral damage for an intended good (happy experiences of life).

    My proposal was that only if it is necessary is it ever justified. And necessary was defined as mitigating a greater harm with a lesser harm for that person who is being so imposed upon. This seems appropriate if we believe in the following:

    a) individuals are the locus of ethics (not some vague notions of society or utility). That is not to say people aren't shaped by society, or that the two aren't linked, or that doing well by society cannot increase the individuals' well-being, but rather that experiences only ever happen at the individual level. There are no (as far as I know outside the Borg in Star Trek :smile:) trans-experiential experiences (mind you that should not be read as "no interpersonal exchanges" or there is no "theory of mind", there is a difference!). When I am suffering, it is "I" who will suffer. That is to say, there is something about the dignity of a person that is being overlooked when causing them suffering for whatever reason, if it is unnecessary.

    b) It is believed that people should not be used as a means. (This one is tricky because there is a misconception that because the parent is intending to create a child so that it can have good experiences, that this negates that the child is being merely used in any way. However, it would seem that principles of non-harm and autonomy are always being violated by such intentions, and thus is self-defeating. The goal is brought about by questionable means that did not need to be brought about in the first place)
  • schopenhauer1
    10.1k
    Made some edits above.
  • I like sushi
    4.3k
    If not having children amounts to 'avoiding responsibility' that implies we have a responsibility to procreate - I would disagree with that.Tzeentch

    It doesn’t imply that. You read that into the words I wrote.

    I also dislike the characterization of people as fearful, 'refusing to live', 'zombie state of existence' for asking the question - I think those amount to little more than thinly-veiled personal attacks.Tzeentch

    Nothing thinly veined about it. It was a direct attack on someone espousing the idea that life is merely to be viewed as a ‘burden’.

    And it is a little ironic, when in the next sentence you say this about procreationTzeentch

    I never used the term ‘procreation’ once. I merely stated that it is highly questionable (repugnant if genuine) to claim it is ‘selfish’ to have children. Does this ‘imply’ that it is selfless to not have children and/or a morally superior stance?

    As for the claim to be looking out for humans (that do not exist) and assuming that if you view this position as ideal - which I would doubt greatly even if you insisted.
  • schopenhauer1
    10.1k
    As for the claim to be looking out for humans (that do not exist) and assuming that if you view this position as ideal - which I would doubt greatly even if you insisted.I like sushi

    The topic is whether or not it is moral to unnecessarily burden someone. The contingencies don't get to be, "I can burden someone if I myself also bear a burden". That doesn't justify burdening someone else because you too will be burdened.
  • I like sushi
    4.3k
    Then it does not matter. If there is not ethical quandary then why bother gesticulating about it?

    It is perfectly justifiable to have children for people who wish to, see it as mutually beneficial and/or want to. There, no ‘morals’ involved whatsoever.

    Is it justifiable to create unnecessary burdens? That is a ridiculously loaded question but you have already used the term ‘necessary’ to describe the ‘burden’. If you had asked to what degree is it justified to creat burdens for others then you have a chance of a reasonable discussion. If that it what was meant I can only answer with ‘it depends’.
  • schopenhauer1
    10.1k
    If you had asked to what degree is it justified to creat burdens for others then you have a chance of a reasonable discussion. If that it what was meant I can only answer with ‘it depends’.I like sushi

    I laid out my definitions of all this. So if you don’t think the argument apt, you’d have to reference where and why. Otherwise, it is you gesticulating distaste without arguments.
  • I like sushi
    4.3k
    The topic is whether or not it is moral to unnecessarily burden someone.schopenhauer1

    To repeat. Loaded question. Clearly if something is unnecessary it is unnecessary.

    Teaching and learning are ‘burdens’. They are necessary ‘burdens’. Think of a courtroom where someone is being sentenced for committing murder … the judge takes into account the circumstances before sentencing there is not a universal sentence for the crime of murder because ‘it depends’ on the situation.

    Someone imposing burden X on someone for reason Y is nothing to go off. It is like saying person X committed crime Y then asking whether or not it is ‘just’ to send them to prison for 20 years. It makes no sense to argue against or for this sentence as we have no idea what it is we are talking about.
  • schopenhauer1
    10.1k
    Teaching and learning are ‘burdens’. They are necessary ‘burdens’. Think of a courtroom where someone is being sentenced for committing murder … the judge takes into account the circumstances before sentencing there is not a universal sentence for the crime of murder because ‘it depends’ on the situation.I like sushi

    So you are red herring here. I asked to go back to my arguments presenting what unnecessary means. You skipped that it appears.

    Someone imposing burden X on someone for reason Y is nothing to go off. It is like saying person X committed crime Y then asking whether or not it is ‘just’ to send them to prison for 20 years. It makes no sense to argue against or for this sentence as we have no idea what it is we are talking about.I like sushi

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/805941
  • I like sushi
    4.3k
    Okay, let me put it like this. Because YOU say something is unnecessary it does not make it so. Something being ‘unnecessary’ is not necessarily ‘wrong’ either. Imposing some ‘burden’ on someone can be done with good intent yet still almost certainly result in a negative, just as some ‘relief’ can result in a negative.

    As a hypothetical it is a point worth exploring privately. How do I feel about having a potential child in terms of the ‘burdens’ it will bring them. I am completely fine about that. It is necessary for life (which I am fond of). If you are talking about projecting this into the future (some imaginary being to be born) then are you willing to project further and admit it is necessary to have children to continue human life? Or would you rather robots produced children to maintain human populations to make you feel better about inflict the gift of life upon the world?

    I do like the hypothetical of all people living a good life whilst one suffers utterly and eternally. That makes you think about how powerful an influence ethics can have over something previously deemed ideal/good.
  • schopenhauer1
    10.1k
    I am completely fine about that. It is necessary for life (which I am fond of).I like sushi

    This overlooks the person themselves for some abstract notion ("I am fond of life, so I shall burden someone else. Prior to X time, there was no person with burdens to overcome, now after X time, there shall be burdens, and I was that cause from Prior to X to After X time that there shall now be burdens. The burdens exist until death."). It's simply not as simple as "I shall do X to someone because I am fond of a notion and that other person shall be the one thus affected/effected."

    If you are talking about projecting this into the future (some imaginary being to be born) then are you willing to project further and admit it is necessary to have children to continue human life? Or would you rather robots produced children to maintain human populations to make you feel better about inflict the gift of life upon the world?I like sushi

    I don't get this question. Why would I want a robot to inflict burdens any more than a human would?

    Edit: I think you are saying what if robots made things less burdensome..
    I don't think that is realistic, but if we live in a complete utopia where even the human condition is not its own worst enemy (boredom leading to more strife), sure. I wouldn't want to burden people to get to a utopia though.

    I do like the hypothetical of all people living a good life whilst one suffers utterly and eternally. That makes you think about how powerful an influence ethics can have over something previously deemed ideal/good.I like sushi

    Still unsure what you are saying here, and could be besides the point of the argument.

    Let me give you a scenario:

    There exists states of affairs where no people are burdened. From this state, you can create states of affairs where there are people that will have deficits to overcome.

    I get that you favor seeing these deficits enacted for others because you are "fond of it" (as compared to no people experiencing anything at all). But the question is not whether you are fond of something, but whether it is moral to be fond of creating burdens for others (even if that means you are creating them de novo), out of a state of affairs where there was no people thus burdened. MIND YOU, you are not "mitigating" harm for a person by giving them burdens to get over the already-existing harm, you are creating harm DE NOVO, so that they must overcome it, or for some other reason (like you are fond of something).
  • I like sushi
    4.3k
    There exists states of affairs where no people are burdened.schopenhauer1

    Yes. This is called extinction. Life without burdens is NOT life. You are imagining something impossible over and over (even ‘rights’ of people who have not been born!) and acting like it is perfectly fine to do so … why do you have this mere notion?

    I have never heard of anyone being imprisoned for planning to kill someone who does not exist. People who do not exist have no burdens and those that do have burdens. Is this hard for you to grasp?
  • I like sushi
    4.3k
    I don't think that is realistic, but if we live in a complete utopia where even the human condition is not its own worst enemy (boredom leading to more strife), sure.schopenhauer1

    Again. Imposing your view onto others. You are fairly unique in your pessimism.

    I wouldn't want to burden people to get to a utopia though.schopenhauer1

    Of course. You hate guilt/responsibility. You are not willing to do mar your perfect soul.
  • schopenhauer1
    10.1k
    Giving burdens to someone in the name of giving them "good things too" has to be taken seriously. It is wrong to create situations of burdens that did not exist prior in the name of "giving good experiences". It doesn't matter. There are no excuses, period. You don't create problems because with those problems come possible positive states of affairs. You don't have any justification for doing so, other than you want to see it, and that isn't an excuse to create wholesale negative states, that didn't need to exist. It's especially egregious when you consider that there is no relief from the onslaught of burdens until death. It is inescapable.
  • I like sushi
    4.3k
    Your opinion. You have to accept you are expressing an opinion here rather than offering an iron cast argument that backs up your opinion.

    It is ‘wrong’ in your opinion. It is not justified in your opinion.

    I cannot really take your opinion that seriously. Yet if you are expressing this as if it is a solid position to hold and holds logical weight, alongside being justifiable, I will just keep saying ‘no’ until you give something other than raw subjective opinions.

    At the end of the day this is what it boils down too. That and the difficulty of trying to ‘measure’/‘rate’ suffering and balancing such out against probability and such. I think we all accept that suffering is a necessary part of living. If one truly wishes to eradicate ALL suffering then extinguishing ALL life would be the best route to take … only a zealot would go down that road though.
  • schopenhauer1
    10.1k
    Your opinion. You have to accept you are expressing an opinion here rather than offering an iron cast argument that backs up your opinion.

    It is ‘wrong’ in your opinion. It is not justified in your opinion.

    I cannot really take your opinion that seriously. Yet if you are expressing this as if it is a solid position to hold and holds logical weight, alongside being justifiable, I will just keep saying ‘no’ until you give something other than raw subjective opinions.
    I like sushi

    No dude, that's not how ethics works. If you want to debate meta-ethics, cool, but not what this particular argument is about. It is arguing for a specific normative standard (not burdening others unnecessarily), and explaining why and how and when it is justified to give someone else burdens.

    You may say that this is not an ethical point or doesn't matter, but if I forced upon you burdens you could not get rid of, you did not want, and said that I'm doing it for character building reasons, or because I want someone to mentor, or because I didn't intend to burden you but I knew it would come with burdens- in many circumstances this seems to be prima facie wrong. If you say no still, then you wouldn't mind if I burdened you with stuff without your say. But see, you would indeed take umbrage at that, I am sure.
  • I like sushi
    4.3k
    It would depend on the circumstances. There is no ‘wrong’ done just because I am burdened with something. There are circumstances where I would personally call it ‘wrong’ though.

    The statement that is it flat out wrong to burden anyone with anything is ridiculous.
  • schopenhauer1
    10.1k
    The statement that is it flat out wrong to burden anyone with anything is ridiculous.I like sushi

    But I did qualify it and explained it. Now, it seems you are just putting up some defense by incredulity as if I didn’t explain it in detail. Again, I point you here:

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/805941

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/804589

    Either you’re unwilling to address the argument because you can’t be bothered or because it actually makes sense. Either way, that’s a problem on your part if you want to be a good faith interlocutor, and not my argument.

    This is an unnecessary burden, and wrong. It creates the burden in the first place to see someone overcome the burden. It was a burden that didn't need to be created at all.schopenhauer1

    So burdens that are permanent, inescapable, the other person had no choice, the burdens didn’t have to be started in the first place are unjustified as they are unnecessary. That was my contingency. Also, starting any of the above for reasons like bringing about good states of affairs or to see someone overcome struggles, are not justified as it is violating non-harm and autonomy principles of the person being affected. That person was not in a bad situation that the burden would make better. Rather, without having the ability to consent, the burden-giver took upon themselves to create someone who will thus be burdened that didn’t have to be for various unnecessary reasons, overlooking the person being burdened (e.g. wanting to mentor, wanting to see someone overcome adversity, intending good bit knowing inescapable bad). Again, it is unjustified as it revolves around unnecessarily creating burdens that did not need to be created in the first place.

    I explained why character building and wanting to see good states of affairs don’t get a pass.
  • I like sushi
    4.3k
    Obviously if you define something as unjustified it is unjustified. Some given ‘burden’ that is ‘unnecessary’ is an extremely abstract proposition.

    You are not really saying anything. I know the point stems from some extreme antinatalist stance so I am safe to guard against it and prod you to provide some actual reasoning that is not merely an empty opinion.

    ‘Harm’ is a term that has relative meaning. ‘Wrong’ too. It depends. Fin.
  • schopenhauer1
    10.1k
    You are not really saying anything. I know the point stems from some extreme antinatalist stance so I am safe to guard against it and prod you to provide some actual reasoning that is not merely an empty opinion.I like sushi

    WTF doesn’t count as an empty opinion to you? I just gave you the reasoning again and you didn’t address my response. That is bad faith argumentation.

    X Provides reasons..
    Y claims no reasons provided
    Repeat
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