• Andrew4Handel
    793
    This issue also concerns other "rights". It is not clear to me why people have a right to have children and where that right would come from and how it would be justified.

    I think that if it was a right that would be problematic for the rights of the child. Because creating a child is creating someone else who can be imposed on and have their own rights.

    So why are we frightened to control reproduction and regulate it considering what is at stake?

    I think it is a problematic or unjustified stance to assert that people are entitled to have children. And if people had that right then don't they have equal responsibilities?
  • Lif3r
    130
    I think about something sort of like this a lot. I feel like we have a responsibility to maintain a level of population that is conducive to survival. I don't have the optimal number, but I also feel like it is possible to exceed one that can produce harmful results. Especially in regards to resource management.

    I'm wondering if overpopulation is inevitable, or if there are ways to balance the rates of increase in population with advances in waste management.
  • tim wood
    1.4k
    Rights and regulations are different animals, not incompatible. We're all regulated in all kinds of ways. Maybe you could tell us how you define "right," or what you think a right is, if you want to discuss rights.

    Nor do I think "rights" and "entitlements" the same. Finally, what responsibilities do you think parents have? The point is that if there are responsibilities, then maybe there are correlate duties-to. If there are duties towards children, are you prepared to argue that parents are the only ones that have those duties? Once there's a child, then there's a community responsibility. Most of the world's communities acknowledge this responsibility; few do a decent job of performing it.

    But some action concerning population seems necessary, and inevitable. A start might be mandatory parent education, licensing, mandatory support, and financial incentive/decentives, rewards/penalties for aspects of parenting including choosing not to be one.

    Controlling conception? Good luck with that.

    Or do it all with guns, but then it's not really a matter of rights.
  • Baden
    6.9k
    This issue also concerns other "rights". It is not clear to me why people have a right to have children and where that right would come from and how it would be justified.Andrew4Handel

    It started with our ancient ancestors popping out their urchins and no-one objecting to that because, well, they wanted to have children too and even if they didn't, why should they care? They didn't generally have to take care of those that weren't theirs after all. And besides who even knew where the little squirts came from in the first place? Probably a gift from the gods (to be returned at will). And then it went on with people building civil societies and making laws without ever concerning themselves about whether they or other people should have children because, well, again, who cared? There were other more important things to think about than the Joneses kiddies. So no laws got made that stopped people having children, and they just presumed it was their right to do so, and when everyone presumes something is their right, and finds nothing wrong in it, and no-one stops it happening, then it effectively is their right, and doesn't need any justification.

    Then came some philosophers and bureaucrats who tried to spoil the party with their moralizing and doomsaying at all the wannabe mommies and daddies out there. But unless you listened to Malthus (and thankfully not many did as he was hopelessly, outrageously, wrong) or lived in China, you didn't give a damn, and just continued to presume you were all good and effectively exercise the right to churn out the sprogs willy-nilly. And so it goes on today. The "right" doesn't come from anywhere. It's simply asserted in the absence of resistance, and since having children is perfectly natural and not generally considered harmful, it's the resistance to it that needs to be justified morally not the reproduction.

    And besides all that God told us to do it. In some book somewhere.
  • Andrew4Handel
    793
    And besides who even knew where the little squirts came from in the first place?Baden

    I believe humans have always been intelligent enough to examine the consequences of having children. For example I reached my own conclusions from my own reasoning. It is true that people were less knowledgeable in that past but not that they had not had no ideas about the ramifications of having children.

    For example most tribes I have read about and I can cite examples had restrictions on the number of children people had. They worked out what was a sustainable size of population that is why infanticide was widely practised.

    Nevertheless I don't think people should have a right to have children based on ignorance. Of course people will have lots of children if they are uneducated and fed religious dogma but statistics shows that education and intelligence and wealth greatly reduce the number of children people have.
  • Andrew4Handel
    793
    Controlling conception? Good luck with that.tim wood

    The Chinese did this but now they have reversed their policy, but they had massive famines so they resorted to this policy.

    However I would prefer people were reasoned with to refrain from having children and not fed propaganda concerning having children so people felt that having children was essential, the ultimate fulfilment, and entitlement and so on.
  • Andrew4Handel
    793
    I'm wondering if overpopulation is inevitableLif3r

    There is no reason it should be. Humans have made massive interventions into nature. We don't just let primitive nature run our lives but have invented sophisticated mechanisms for survival, including thousands of medications, surgery, numerous technologies to improve our welfare. Having children is the only area that people are reluctant to control or demand rationality.
  • John Doe
    202


    Sincere question: What do you make of the flustered this is so effing stupid response?

    A few years back I had a professor who was one of the leading voices in this weird academic niche of arguing for redistributing children to the most able parents, and I had to take this person's seminar. At the time I remember just being upset every day that we were even having the conversation, which struck me as analytic philosophy gone mad, the result of an increasingly frantic moral-rights talk.

    But now I'm seeing a lot of these weird moral-rights talk games become serious conversations among normal people and I'm starting to feel like maybe I'm missing something? Maybe I'm just too close-minded? It just seems to me like a theoretical approach to the rights and duties of child-rearing is itself a stupid and dehumanizing approach, the last vestige of real human relations being drowned in an ever-growing sea of purely formal juridical relations. No long mother and child playing in the garden, but rights-holders and rights-bearers agreeing to participate in an activity that has been circumscribed and approved by abstract moral reasoning.

    What am I missing?
  • Andrew4Handel
    793
    Maybe you could tell us how you define "right,"tim wood

    I am a nihilistic about rights. I do not think nature provides us with any rights and they are human inventions.

    The concept of rights makes people feel entitled as opposed to working with known resources or limitations.

    Right seems to come from the idea that a behaviour or belief is vindicated and therefore right. But like values it seems to come from desires as opposed to science. For example I desire that no children should be hit therefore I believe no child should be hit or abused and have a right not to be hit and abused. I desire that women and men should be treated equally therefore I desire they have the right to be treated equally.

    It is never the case that I have discovered a law of nature entailing rights. It is understandable why someone wants to minimise harm and that is the most understandable conception of rights as opposed to entitling anyone to do what they like. I think intervening in different ways in the creation of new people is the only way to limit harm and have harm based rights.
  • Andrew4Handel
    793
    in an ever-growing sea of purely formal juridical relations. No long mother and child playing in the garden, but rightsJohn Doe

    You seem to have a fantastical view if the past treatment of children based on Disney.

    Huge numbers of children have starved to death and still do and do not have gardens to play in with some kind of Snow white mother figure. Children have the most protections now than any time in history. Children were sent down mines and up chimneys and are still working down mines and in factories. The increase in welfare has coincided with the increase in prosperity

    It is an empathetic and not a legalistic mindset that refutes the right of people to have children along side personal experience of dysfunctional families.I can't think of any children's right movements inspired by legalism. The idea that anyone should be allowed to have children is the anathema to child welfare and patently absurd and the source of unmeasurable child suffering.
  • Lif3r
    130
    It started with our ancient ancestors popping out their urchins and no-one objecting to that because, well, they wanted to have children too

    And also Baden, one could argue that there was at one time an *obligation to humanity to populate the species.
  • John Doe
    202
    I am honestly a little disheartened that you took one sentence to attack from what was not an argument but instead a thoughtful explanation of my concerns and request for clarification and insight about how you feel I ought to go about rethinking my position. But hey this is philosophy so who knows why I expected something different.

    In any case, you've exemplified one concern I have with this type of talk generally. When I say, hey, I'm worried about how this might eliminate the sort of value I see in the simple pleasure of a mother playing with her daughter, you reply with a shocking level of intensity without even addressing the underlying point, which you dismiss as naive.

    The immediate notion that there's something insane or unhinged about my concern with preserving the simple pleasure of a mother playing with her daughter...like, WTF are you talking about? Some children starve to death, some children play in the garden with their mothers. Clearly what we want is to eliminate the former category and encourage the latter. If you had a childhood where you didn't play with your mother than I am sincerely sorry for you, but there's nothing "Disney" about such an idea. I have the pleasure of knowing a lot of mothers who enjoy loving relationships with their children.

    It is an empathetic and not a legalistic mindset that refutes the right of people to have children along side personal experience of dysfunctional families.I can't think of any children's right movements inspired by legalism.Andrew4Handel

    Well, what do you mean by a "right"? Are you suggesting "Someone with empathy should feel that they are not entitled to have a children under these circumstances" or are you suggesting "Society should use formal or informal mechanisms to codify a set of rights which will prevent people from having children under these circumstances"?
  • Andrew4Handel
    793
    The immediate notion that there's something insane or unhinged about my concern with preserving the simple pleasure of a mother playing with her daughter...like, WTF are you talking aboutJohn Doe

    Society does not function based on mothers playing with their children in the garden, rather on hard work, technology, exploitation,sacrifice and the like.

    So using some kind of irrational sentimental template to justify the rest of what reality consists of, the real non manipulative harsh reality(famine war, disease, blind chance) I find more than disturbing and not the least philosophical.
  • John Doe
    202
    Society does not function based on mothers playing with their children in the garden, rather on hard work, technology, exploitation,sacrifice and the like.Andrew4Handel

    No, society functions at its best to enable people to have the means to engage in healthy loving relationships, joy, and the simple pleasures of life. Many of us work hard, use technology and sacrifice on behalf of our children because we love them, want to be close to them, and want them to live a life that's best for them.

    On my view, your vision of society, where we work hard, get exploited and sacrifice for its own sake, without some goal towards which we strive, is dystopian.

    So using some kind of irrational sentimental template to justify the rest of what reality consists of, the real non manipulative harsh reality(famine war, disease, blind chance) I find more than disturbing and not the least philosophical.Andrew4Handel

    I don't know. You're talking about abstract reasoning regarding the rights and entitlements which ought to govern the way a whole society operates with respect to who does and does not get to participate in the remarkable joy of having a loving relationship with your child. It concerns me deeply when you think you can reason about these matters of supreme importance and yet you dismiss discussion of the mutual good of having loving playful days with your children as mere 'irrational sentiment'.
  • S
    6.3k
    That's not a normal question to ask. We already have answers to that question which you're no doubt familiar with. So I think what you're actually doing is questioning why people should have children, given that it's inconsistent with certain beliefs of yours. But these beliefs of yours aren't shared by others. And that's what it comes down to. It's a familiar pattern with discussions of this type.
  • apokrisis
    4.5k
    It is not clear to me why people have a right to have children and where that right would come from and how it would be justified.Andrew4Handel

    The most general “right” ought to be the right not to be constrained except to the degree that it is necessary. So the default position is “why not?”. We wouldn’t seek to impose restrictions on individuals (or individuals upon themselves) until we can supply the good reasons.

    You simply start on the wrong foot in asking why the right to have kids should exist. The first moral or practical question is why would we think to want to remove the open possibility. The burden is on you to make that positive argument.
  • Andrew4Handel
    793
    We wouldn’t seek to impose restrictions on individuals (or individuals upon themselves) until we can supply the good reasons.apokrisis

    Having a child is imposing on someone. How can you justify doing something that fundamentally effects someone else that did not consent to it? What kind of rights could we have over over someone else and why?

    We can supply good reasons to stop someone harming another person but we refuse to do it in the case of child birth which is the source of all harms.

    The burden is on people who feel entitled to do something to someone else not on people who seek to stop this harm.

    The point of rights as I see it is about self integrity and harm prevention but having a child is not preventing harm or respecting the child's self integrity. It is an action that needs more justification than most.


    By your reasoning I should be able to kill people until you make and argument that convinces me not to.
  • Andrew4Handel
    793
    Many of us work hard, use technology and sacrifice on behalf of our childrenJohn Doe

    You would have to work hard to survive even if you did not have children you are just passing on a burden.
    It is not a sacrifice to take care of child that you created that did not ask to be born. It is like a masochistic imposition on yourself that you are portraying in the most sentimental unreasonable light that doesn't tally with historical evidence.

    People can have a child for no reason, with no qualifications, money, no resources no parental ability. There is no restraint on anyone having children for any reason.

    A lot of childless people (including Newton, Handel, Schubert & Descartes) have contributed a lot to society. There are to be creative, change the world and fulfill yourself other than adding to overpopulation, resource depletion and inequality.
  • Andrew4Handel
    793
    It concerns me deeply when you think you can reason about these matters of supreme importanceJohn Doe

    It concerns me deeply that you can use sentiment to try and mask the vast amount of historical and current suffering of children and their adults selves via sentiment.

    The matter of supreme importance is child suffering and suffering and individual integrity not someones desire to enact yet another narcissistic fictional drama with the fruit of their loins where they feature as some kind of heroic self sacrificing benevolent life giver.

    In the city I live someone had all 8 of his children taken off him at their birth because he was a drug addict as were his girlfriends. But we mustn't stop them having children because that would imply that parenting is no longer sacred and romantic?
  • apokrisis
    4.5k
    Having a child is imposing on someone.Andrew4Handel

    And so you jump straight into a justification ... based on the impact it would have on the unrestrained freedoms of others within the collective.

    So as I just argued, this is where any talk of rights does start. And as the conversation develops, we would expect some pragmatic balance between the individual and the collective to emerge. That is what it is all about.

    By your reasoning I should be able to kill people until you make and argument that convinces me not to.Andrew4Handel

    Show me how MY reasoning leads to that. :grin:
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    Here we go (again).
  • John Doe
    202
    It is not a sacrifice to take care of child that you created that did not ask to be born. It is like a masochistic imposition on yourself that you are portraying in the most sentimental unreasonable light that doesn't tally with historical evidence.
    [...]
    The matter of supreme importance is child suffering and suffering and individual integrity not someones desire to enact yet another narcissistic fictional drama with the fruit of their loins where they feature as some kind of heroic self sacrificing benevolent life giver.
    Andrew4Handel

    Since we've hit the point where you (a) simply refuse to recognize the potential joy and value of life, and (b) reject my initial invitation to have you explain how I am thinking about this matter the wrong way and why I should care about it like you do -- instead offering increasingly frantic assertions about how I'm living in some fantasy land because I love and respect my parents and aim to pass this love on to my children -- then I suspect that, as suggests, there's little conversation to be had without engaging in a needlessly tiring debate.

    You are too unwilling to explain and justify your views to an unconvinced observer -- one who literally asks you to help change his mind! -- without resorting immediately to the notion that dissent reveals a lack of intelligence or moral character. God only knows why you bother to start a thread with such a sentiment.
  • Andrew4Handel
    793
    Show me how MY reasoning leads to that.apokrisis

    You said:

    So the default position is “why not?” We wouldn’t seek to impose restrictions on individuals (or individuals upon themselves) until we can supply the good reasons.apokrisis

    You say the default position is "Why not" which entails people do as they please until they feel you have given them a good reason not to do so.(Which could be never).

    People should be open to reason before they act. Unless you think people should act without good reason until someone can convince them of an alternative course.
  • Andrew4Handel
    793
    (a) simply refuse to recognize the potential joy and value of lifeJohn Doe

    I am discussing whether people are entitled to have children and not whether life has joy and value.

    You appear to be claiming that these things justify everyone having children.

    You can hold that life has joy in it with out claiming people are entitled to have children.

    If you think joy and pleasure count for having children then it would be consistent to recognise that things like, suffering, drug addiction, overpopulation count against people having children.

    You were saying people that try and monitor and manage the welfare of children are too analytic and contrasted this with a sentimental picture of motherhood which in no way helps children in need of an intervention
    It is questionable sentimentality that seemed to be your only argument after you questionable depiction of those "analytically" concerned with child welfare.

    This really suggests having children can't be justified by reason only sentiment which is a suspicion I had already.
  • Andrew4Handel
    793
    Once there's a child, then there's a community responsibility.tim wood

    So the childless are to be forced to take care of other peoples children that they didn't endorse and had no role in the creation of?
    Why impose the burden on everyone else after self indulging in creating a child? My concern with child welfare starts before they are created not as that of a baby sitter for recalcitrant parents. I would take care of a child for his or her on sake not out of mistaken sense of duty to other peoples decisions.

    Finally, what responsibilities do you think parents have?tim wood

    What responsibilities don't they have?

    Creating new people is the foundation of society and the route which suffering and inequality are possible. If I were to have child everything that happened to them or they caused would be my responsibility at the very least my causal responsibility.

    But of course you can foist this onto the collective conscience. In reality your child would not have suffered if you had not created them.
  • John Doe
    202
    I am discussing whether people are entitled to have children and not whether life has joy and value.Andrew4Handel

    Not exactly. You're saying things like -- "You would have to work hard to survive even if you did not have children you are just passing on a burden." -- where I simply disagree that the child I raise in a loving home is me "passing on a burden".

    You appear to be claiming that these things justify everyone having children.Andrew4Handel

    No. I openly expressed a concern about the possibility that getting too excessive with rights-talk and the potentially resulting legal mandates will diminish the goods which parents and children can receive in a loving household. This concern in no way clashes with other concerns about the suffering and harm caused by miserable parents.

    You can hold that life has joy in it with out claiming people are entitled to have children.Andrew4Handel

    Sure. My concern was that you are advancing the sort of conceptual framework that looks at having children from the perspective of entitlement. And you don't seem to be able to get out of that framework because you are assuming that my statements must commit me to some position about who is and is not entitled.

    If you look back, I only asked why I should change my mind and look at things your way because at first sight this looks to me like a silly way of looking at it. That's not an altogether unreasonable request and if you have any interest in winning allies I suggest you take the time to figure out how best to be persuasive and engage in that sort of conversation with someone.

    If you think joy and pleasure count for having children then it would be consistent to recognise that things like, suffering, drug addiction, overpopulation count against people having children.[/i]Andrew4Handel

    Yes. I also believe that rights can only get us so far in dealing with concerns about suffering and openly questioned how you would address my worries about what might be lost if we focused excessively at suffering.

    You were saying people that try and monitor and manage the welfare of children are too analytic and contrasted this with a sentimental picture of motherhood which in no way helps children in need of an intervention.Andrew4Handel

    No. I was expressing my concern that the excessive practice of rights-talk and reasoning about rights might lead us to lose sight of what is good in loving and healthy relationships. I expressed my concern that looking at parents and children as merely full rights-bearing individuals having claims against one another mediated by a higher power - such as judges backed by police - might lead to the type of society we don't want with a deterioration of the simple goods and pleasured to be found in healthy relationships.

    That of course doesn't preclude us from punishing awful parents who act despicably.

    It is questionable sentimentality that seemed to be your only argument after you questionable depiction of those "analytically" concerned with child welfare.Andrew4Handel

    I mean, if you can't see more to my concern than questionable sentimentality then I suppose that would speak more to your myopia than anything else.

    This really suggests having children can't be justified by reason only sentiment which is a suspicion I had already.Andrew4Handel

    Well I am suggesting that I would be worried about the potential to reduce all Parent-Child relationships to a relation governed by rationality and that this would be bad in subtle ways (it could reduce our potential for love and intimacy, reduce our capacity to be loving to one another without justifying this to some higher purpose or rationality) and overt ways (the potential for government overreach).
  • Andrew4Handel
    793
    No. I openly expressed a concern about the possibility that getting too excessive with rights-talk and the potentially resulting legal mandates will diminish the goods which parents and children can receive in a loving householdJohn Doe

    Why should having children be the only area in life not constrained by rights and legislation?

    I find it worrying that you would think that to preserve some notion of a transcendent family quasi spirituality or something like that,that then all children should not be protected by rights and in a legal framework.

    This is the problem I am alluding to. The complete lack of reason and restraint in this area.

    Anyway it is rather like saying Handel should not have had a rigorous musical education because that would interfere with the transcendence of his music... but in reality reason, boundaries and discipline are part of creativity.

    Personally I think the rights of child and child welfare are the first and most primary area that should be legislated for. Trying to improve society after a reproduction free-for-all is shutting the gate after the horse has run off.

    I feel passionately about child welfare and children's rights and there is nothing legalistic in my approach to that.

    It also disturbs me that I could have a child if I wanted to despite no one knowing me or my capacities or dysfunctions. It is one of the few things I could do without scrutiny or finance or contract or education.
  • Andrew4Handel
    793
    No. I was expressing my concern that the excessive practice of rights-talk and reasoning about rightsJohn Doe

    We don't need to invoke rights if we say people don't have a right to have children.

    Saying people have a right to have children is invoking rights.

    I think the belief that someone has a divine right to do something leads to a more irresponsible exploitative attitude than skepticism about rights which can lead to cautious actions and claims.

    Being granted a right can lead to a lack of justification for that right because one just acts entitled.
    The initial justification for the right gets lost in entitlement. Rights can reflect past disenfranchisement and don't usually just endorse the status quo.
  • John Doe
    202
    I feel passionately about child welfare and children's rights and there is nothing legalistic in my approach to that.

    It also disturbs me that I could have a child if I wanted to despite no one knowing me or my capacities or dysfunctions.
    Andrew4Handel

    I appreciate your passion. It's a great thing to be passionate about. I just hope you find a way to be passionate without dismissing what I take to be some real issues at play in your way of thinking about these matters.

    That said, there's not much more to say for me. I don't see how you feel you can hold the first proposition along with the second proposition and I find it bizarre that you take my concerns to be weird, fantastical, transcendental, etc. though there's no help for that if you can't as yet see things from my very mainstream perspective.

    I suspect your views might win the day on this. One thing that’s lost sight of in all this back-and-forth debate about “SJWs” is that people once working on obscure philosophical issues that seemed totally bizarre and outrageous to a lot of people have had a huge effect on the way we now discuss issues surrounding identity, power, struggle, harassment, etc. For better or worse, of course. But I definitely see the beginning of a movement surrounding the issues which you clearly care about. So best of luck with that, I just urge you to take the concerns I’m expressing seriously, though if you feel that you have good reason to dismiss them then I hope some day you’ll reconsider.

    (Edited.)
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    I think it is a problematic or unjustified stance to assert that people are entitled to have children. And if people had that right then don't they have equal responsibilities?Andrew4Handel

    The problem with bearing more life is the person being born is stuck with it. There is no simple off button, just the very difficult mechanism of suicide. In tribal societies, it was simply a rite of passage to have children, and a duty to the tribe itself in order to perpetuate it. This, of course, leaves little thought about the individual at question being born. Religion and unquestioned social norms (and lack of birth control coupled with desire for sex) continued this practice of procreation into "the age of civilizations" around the world. Around the 1700s, personal reasons like pursuing happiness came into vogue. Thus having a child would allow the new person to experience their potential for happiness. See? All resolved.. Once the word happiness is thrown in as a reason, then there is no reason to question it, right? Not being facetious at all :).
  • Andrew4Handel
    793
    I think someones that has a child is asserting that they have a right to have child.

    So I am asking why people feel they have a right to have a child and with no restrictions

    Religion and unquestioned social norms (schopenhauer1

    It would help if people would question the social norms.

    I think the way children are brought into the world undermines a lot of social norms, ethical claims and so on.

    There should be consequences from having children including rights for the child and proper apportioning of responsibility and causality.
    But instead no one has to be responsible for anything because of this fatalistic attitude towards having children as though it is inevitable.
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