• Thorongil
    3.2k
    Antinatalism regards procreation as positively immoral, but I no longer buy the arguments in favor of this view. This means I don't think procreation is morally wrong. However, just because something is not wrong does not thereby make it right. Ought implies can but can does not imply ought.

    Consequently, I want to understand what positive reasons there are to have children, specifically those that are not based in egotism. Thus far, I have failed to find any. The best I have come up with is that procreation is necessary to maintain civilization. But is civilization an end in itself? I think not. And this rationale might boil down to egotism in the end.
  • schopenhauer1
    1.8k
    The best I have come up with is that procreation is necessary to maintain civilization. But is civilization an end in itself? I think not. And this rationale might boil down to egotism in the end.Thorongil

    Agreed. People will possibly say that they are giving an opportunity for the child to experience and self-actualize. I'm not sure your response to this though.
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    I suppose if there is a God and he commanded procreation, then it would be selfless in that case, but I am not in fact religious myself at present, so this can't be appealed to.
  • Maw
    594
    Not my perspective or opinion, but if you believe life is inherently good and enjoyable, then that seems to be a non-egotistic reason to have children.
  • Moliere
    1.2k
    What if your partner wants children?

    Even supposing your partner wanted children out of a sort of egoism, if you were doing it for your partner, that seems to me like it would count as a non-selfish reason.

    But then I guess I sort of wonder what would count as egotism, for you, and more interestingly what wouldn't.

    Because in one way or another egotism, conceptually, has this ability to engulf all reasons. In some sense we can see all motivations or consequences as centrally related to an ego. So I kind of just want to avoid that sort mistake, not really get into the specifics of selfishness/non-selfishness (since you're actually asking about procreation). I just don't want to think of something and have it seem like, well actually, that's egotistical.
  • T Clark
    3k
    I want to understand what positive reasons there are to have children, specifically those that are not based in egotism. Thus far, I have failed to find any. The best I have come up with is that procreation is necessary to maintain civilization. But is civilization an end in itself? I think not. And this rationale might boil down to egotism in the end.Thorongil

    In the society I live in I don't think there are any rational reasons for having children. We don't need the labor on our farm. We're not trying to populate an empty landscape.

    I think back to when my wife and I were having children. We have three, oldest 36, youngest 28. I think she came to marriage with specific plans about children while I didn't. Still, there was never any conflict between us on whether, when, or how many. A lot of the timing had to do with our lives. We had a house of our own and enough money to support children. We were in our early 30s. It was time.

    It was an emotional, social decision. We wanted to be part of, to lead, a family. We wanted to be part of a community. We wanted to offer something to the rest of our families. It was natural. It wasn't forced or rushed. We'd always known we would have children. It's what people do.

    So, I guess for me, the question is "why shouldn't we have children?" Perhaps you have an answer to that. You don't want them. You think they are a burden on the world's resources. I have no problem with that. If you don't want children, don't have them. My brother and his wife don't. My daughter won't.
  • schopenhauer1
    1.8k
    I suppose if there is a God and he commanded procreation, then it would be selfless in that case, but I am not in fact religious myself at present, so this can't be appealed to.Thorongil

    Was that to my previous response or its own separate post?
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    The latter. It was just a thought I had and felt like adding to the thread.
  • schopenhauer1
    1.8k

    Anything in response to my first response?
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    if you believe life is inherently good and enjoyableMaw

    I don't know what calling life good means, unless you're thinking of the Platonic equivalency between being and goodness. That's an intriguing concept and may be the most promising as a selfless reason, but I have no definite opinion on it yet. It's a variant of the hypothetical theist answer I gave above, I would say. As for life being enjoyable, I fail to see how that translates into a reason to have children. It sounds selfish, as life can only be enjoyable to individual living things. Life itself doesn't enjoy anything. There is no duty to perpetuate enjoyment either.

    Even supposing your partner wanted children out of a sort of egoism, if you were doing it for your partner, that seems to me like it would count as a non-selfish reason.Moliere

    I still think this would make the act of procreation selfish in this case, since at least one person (the person who will have the child) is acting selfishly, even if I may not be.

    In some sense we can see all motivations or consequences as centrally related to an ego.Moliere

    I disagree. I think compassion is an non-egoistic motive. But one can't be compassionate to non-existent people, so compassion can't be a motive to have children.

    I don't think there are any rational reasons for having children.T Clark

    Neither do I. That's why I asked the question I did. :|

    Anything in response to my first response?schopenhauer1

    I don't buy that either, as it depends on the claim that experiencing life is intrinsically good. I don't think it is. What would be the reason that it is? Because one can feel pleasure? Well, then we're back to a selfish reason at bottom.
  • schopenhauer1
    1.8k
    I don't buy that either, as it depends on the claim that experiencing life is intrinsically good. I don't think it is. What would be the reason that it is? Because one can feel pleasure? Well, then we're back to a selfish reason at bottom.Thorongil

    I guess they would respond, "What's wrong with wanting a child to go into existence to feel pleasure/happiness"? I have my own reply, but just wondering yours.
  • T Clark
    3k
    I don't think there are any rational reasons for having children.
    — T Clark

    Neither do I. That's why I asked the question I did. :|
    Thorongil

    So, what are rational reasons for not having children that outweigh the non-rational reasons for having them?
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    I guess they would respond, "What's wrong with wanting a child to go into existence to feel pleasure/happiness"?schopenhauer1

    Because pleasure isn't an intrinsic but an instrumental good and therefore inherently selfish.
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    what are rational reasons for not having children that outweigh the non-rational reasons for having them?T Clark

    I don't say that there are.
  • Moliere
    1.2k
    I disagree. I think compassion is an non-egoistic motive. But one can't be compassionate to non-existent people, so compassion can't be a motive to have children.Thorongil

    Cool, that's the sort of thing I was looking for.

    Is compassion the only non-egoistic motive?
  • schopenhauer1
    1.8k
    Because pleasure isn't an intrinsic but an instrumental good and therefore inherently selfish.Thorongil

    I guess the two follow-ups are:
    1) What is your definition of intrinsic and instrumental good?
    1a) Why isn't pleasure an intrinsic good?
    2) Why is inherently selfish bad?
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    Is compassion the only non-egoistic motive?Moliere

    I tend to think so, but I won't say that with certainty.
  • Marchesk
    1.7k
    Because pleasure isn't an intrinsic but an instrumental good and therefore inherently selfish.Thorongil

    So you're no hedonist. Does that mean hedonists would necessarily disagree with antinatalism, or only if pleasure outweighed the pain of being alive?
  • Marchesk
    1.7k
    Why is inherently selfish bad?schopenhauer1

    Selfishness is only bad when it harms others. Since we're social animals, and survival is a social matter involving a fair amount of reciprocation, selfishness is seen as a negative trait.

    But if we were intelligent felines, it probably wouldn't matter.
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    1) What is your definition of intrinsic and instrumental good?schopenhauer1

    Good-in-itself and good for some other end.

    1a) Why isn't pleasure an intrinsic good?schopenhauer1

    Because I think it's purpose is to aid the health of an organism.

    2) Why is inherently selfish bad?schopenhauer1

    Well, I didn't say it was bad. I think selfishness is amoral, neither good nor bad.
  • Moliere
    1.2k
    Awesome. That gives me a clear picture.

    What about giving? A gift can be egotistical -- a display of ownership or power -- but I'd say there is also compassionate giving. Like in the old O. Henry fable The Gift of the Magi.

    It seems to me that having and raising children is a kind of gift, if done in the right way. What you are doing is providing a whole new life the means to live happily. Obviously you'd have to be set up to provide, so it's not like this sort of reason would hold for everyone. But you could view having children as giving a sort of priceless gift, one with intrinsic value -- a life worth living.

    I'm also sort of hesitant to say that someone could be motivated purely on non-egotistical motives. One is going to have pride for their children, be attached to them, feel joy and frustration in relation to their immediate well-being in the process. But I'd probably be pretty hesitant to think that, on the model of compassion being possibly the only non-egotistical motive, that any human is so motivated.

    It seems to me that we are bi-conditionally motivated, on the frame of compassion/ego.
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