• learner111
    1
    How poor or unstable to living conditions need to be where it is wrong to have kids? Do you think there is one? Does it vary? Thanks.
  • fishfry
    469
    We can begin to think about this by considering the earliest humans. Subsistence living, short lifespans, unimaginable conditions. If they didn't reproduce then none of us would be here.

    So your question is about contemporary times. What has changed? I can think of two things.

    * Overpopulation. If you think overpopulation is a problem then you would want to consider the question of when it's wrong to reproduce. For the record I believe and have argued on an unrelated thread that the real problem is underpopulation. So for me this wouldn't factor in. But if you think overpopulation is a concern, you'd want to consider that as a factor.

    * Privilege. Modern life is expensive. It takes a lot of money just to be poor these days. If we are wealthy and we bring a child into the world, we can give it all the advantages. But if we are poor, we condemn our offspring to a lifetime of starting behind and falling further behind every day. Food not as good, schools not as good, social networks not as good, "voted least likely to succeed."

    Now on the one hand that sounds like a sensible argument. But I'd argue it's elitist and frankly evil. The poor shouldn't reproduce. From there how far is it to the idea that we should just sterilize them if they can't control themselves. You're not the first to think of that.

    No of course I know you didn't mean to think of that! I'm only following a "sensible sounding" idea to its actual logical conclusion. And I'm just putting forth the proposition that the value of a human life is not measured by material things; and that if our current world is the opposite, then we should strive to improve the world, not abort the poor. Or equivalently, declare that it's a moral wrong for the poor to have kids.

    Now having said all this, I believe you are stuck with the overpopulation argument. People shouldn't have kids because there are too many people. I hold the opposite because I believe wealth comes from human capital, and our problems are how to get everyone organized.

    We have plenty of resources in the world, but terrible distribution systems. In the great American depression farmers burned crops because the prevailing prices wouldn't pay the cost of getting the crops to market.

    So no, I don't agree that shaming the poor about reproduction is a good political, social, or economic strategy. In the end I think there's a whiff of elitism in the question. The lotus eaters get to reproduce. A baby is a cost center, not a new human being. Can't afford to give a kid an upper middle class life? Kill yourself now.

    A society that develops such an ethos is doomed.

    Note: I am not accusing you of being a terrible person who wants to kill all the poor people. I'm exaggerating my rhetoric to make my points. Sometimes people take me the wrong way. People these days are way too literal IMO. But I do feel there is elitism at the core of the question of who should reproduce. The other side of argument is humanism. Every person is valuable. Not just the ones lucky enough to have been born to parents who practice assortative mating. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assortative_mating (*)

    Perhaps the problem isn't that poor people can't afford to give their kids a decent life. Perhaps the problem is that we've arranged our society such that reproducing is a luxury not financially available to most people. That your human worth is your financial worth. And what should we do about that?

    (*) The Wiki article is about a general biological phenomenon. I was using the term assortative mating in the way I've heard it, where upscale attorneys marry upscale politicians, or Silicon Valley couples give birth to kids groomed to start their own company by the time they're 12.
  • T Clark
    3k
    How poor or unstable to living conditions need to be where it is wrong to have kids? Do you think there is one? Does it vary? Thanks.learner111

    That's a reasonable question if you are asking about your own behavior. You can decide it for yourself. If you are asking when it is ok to call others "unethical" based on their decisions about children, it will almost always be none of your business.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k
    It varies:
  • Bitter Crank
    6.5k
    I think Danes should do it for Denmark, and Japanese should do it for Japan. Indians should stop doing it for India, and the Chinese have been working on doing it only once for China. I don't have a problem with encouraging people in low birth areas to reproduce more, and people in high birth areas to reproduce less. I'd like there to be Danes, Norwegians, Russians, French, Italian, Lithuanians, Scots, Irish, Egyptians, Ugandans, and Brazilians; Chinese, Indonesians, Greeks, Turks, Arabs, Persians, et al. in the future, and not have us all turn into café au lait.

    I suppose this will be deemed hopelessly racist. But if you like diversity and variety, then we need to maintain the different components of diversity and variety.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    How poor or unstable to living conditions need to be where it is wrong to have kids? Do you think there is one? Does it vary? Thanks.learner111
    Well, I'd say if the parents are in an unstable situation, financially, in terms of health, etc. it wouldn't be a wise thing to have children, obviously. Basically, if the parent thinks they will really struggle to care for the child - not enough money, time, etc. - they shouldn't have a child. For me, I wouldn't have a child anytime soon, because I don't feel financially secure enough yet to care for the child adequately, including contingencies that can come up, like illness, etc. Nor do I feel capable to carry the psychological pressure of being a father yet. So it's something that will come with time for someone like me I think. I'd say it would definitely not be wise for me to have children now.

    Many parents though don't take much responsibility for when having a child, and I think that's bad. Lack of self-awareness often makes one think they are ready before they really are.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    Generally it's wrong to expose people to things they will not appreciate being exposed to because it hurts them in some way. Given that life sucks and nobody in their right mind would live it over again, it follows that there's no good reason to have children.
  • TheMadFool
    2.4k
    How poor or unstable to living conditions need to be where it is wrong to have kids? Do you think there is one? Does it vary? Thanks.learner111

    A Buddhist perspective...

    Reincarnating as a human is considered a Golden Opportunity - undistracted by the pleasures of Heaven and the pain of Hell - to achieve enlightenment. It follows, therefore, that one must bear children, giving souls a chance to make it big - escape from Samsara.

    However, lately, I'm considering the possibility that Hell may not be a place, as in distinct from our world, but a state of mind affected by one's circumstances. If so, being born in poverty, slavery, with a genetic defect or any other miserable circumstances is Hell itself. The argument then makes a U turn and Buddhism discourages having children if suffering is all they'll ever experience.

    What do you think? Is all human life, as I said, a one-in-a-million opportunity at enlightenment or are there situations where suffering (poverty, disease, etc.) is so overwhelming that some folks simply can't avail of that opportunity.


    Also, keep in mind that life, everything in it, is a work in progress. Present circumstances may discourage having children but who knows what the future has to say on the issue. May be a time will come when we would have reduced all suffering to a minimum - may be our socio-political and economic philosophies will correct the evils of the present system - and it'll be, as the Buddhists say, almost mandatory to have children to allow souls a rare shot at enlightenment.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.2k

    Structural and contingent suffering are two reasons.
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