• Bartricks
    1.4k
    We do not allow anyone to drive a car, or practice medicine, or fly a plane. All of these activities - and many more besides - are licensed. And we do not allow just anyone to adopt a child. You have to demosntrate that you will be a competent parent, that you have sufficient money and emotional stability to look after the child well, and so on.

    The reason why we - that is, why civilized people - license these activitites is fairly obvious: do them badly and you can cause others enormous harm. As even the staunchest libertarian will agree, we are sometimes justified in restricting the liberty of others when doing so is necessary to protect the rights of others. We have rights, but we do not have the right to violate the rights of others, and others have the right to be free from the risks of harm the above activities would pose if we did not restrict who could do them.

    So given that these activities are licensed, it seems obvious that reproduction itself should be. After all, the mere fact you are fertile and capable of reproducing does not by any stretch of the imagination guarantee that you will be a good parent. And if you parent badly, you can clearly do a great deal of harm. That's precisely why we licence adoption - children have a right to be brought up well, to have a stable home environment, to have parents who are financially, emotionally and intellectually capable of discharing their responsiblities.

    The idea that children who are up for adoption have this right, but those who are not do not, is ludicrous. And thus, it is equally ludicrous that we licence the former but not hte latter.

    I propose, then, that it stands to reason that reprodution should be licensed. For too long human socities have let this most significant of human activities go almost entirely unregulated. We do not allow those who really want to be surgeons to be surgeons if they cannot demonstrate they also possess the requisite skills; likewise for car and plane and train drivers. Likewise, then, we should not permit those who lack the requisite skills to be a good parent (which would include things such as a healthy, demonstrably stable relationship, IQ above a certain level, and a stable financial and emotional situation) to breed.
  • Pfhorrest
    592
    The only effect licensing anything has, compared to just punishing harm when it happens, is to punish people who did something harmlessly without first asking for permission. People who do ask permission first (get licensed) still get punished if they do harm and don’t get punished if they do no harm, and people who don’t ask for permission first (do it without a license) and cause harm would still have been punished for that harm even if we hadn’t required licensure. So the only people who receive any different treatment when licensing is required are people doing no harm, just acting freely, who get punished for having the gall to do so. Which makes licensure of any kind the antithesis of freedom.
  • Bartricks
    1.4k
    You're against all licensing?

    There is really no substantial difference between licensing something and saying that 'doing this without satisfying certain criteria will result in us punishing you'.

    Someone who drink drives but gets home without running anyone over should be punished, not quietly admired for their gall.

    Yes, it is the antithesis of freedom in that we are saying "you are not free to do this" - but not all freedoms are equal. As the saying goes, your freedom to swing your fists ends where my face begins.

    If - if - you are opposed to all licensing, then do you at least agree that 'if' it is justifiable to licence piloting and medicine, then it is justifiable to licence reproduction?
  • Pfhorrest
    592
    I am against all licensing.

    I don't admire the gall of drunk drivers or anyone else engaging in activities that put others at risk, but I think that they should be punished in proportion to the harm they cause -- as all punishment should be -- and so the deterrent effect of punishment will automatically be in proportion to how much their actions risk how much harm. Asking for permission in advance or not shouldn't play a part in how much they're punished.

    But even within the realm of licensed activities, licensing reproduction seems even worse than the rest, precisely because the practical effect of it is going to be punishing someone for something, and what exactly do you propose the punishment be for what act? Are you going to punish people for having unprotected sex? How are you going to find out if that's happening? That's going to require an enormous invasion of privacy to be effectual at all. Do you only punish them if they actually conceive a child? What if they accidentally conceive, after taking all due precautions? (Birth control sometimes fails). In any case, do you force an abortion on them? That raises a huge ball of problems comparable to banning abortions. Even if you don't, then what? Do you take the children away from them? Children raised in institutional environments generally fare worse than even the averagely-badly-parented child, so that seems contrary to the intended purpose of protecting the children. Do you let the parents keep the children, and just jail one or both of them? Both seems obviously problematic, leaving the children in institutional care again, and even if it's only one, children of single parents, especially those with jailed co-parents, generally fare worse than otherwise, again defeating the purpose. Do you just fine the parents, but leave them free and let them keep the kid? That just leaves you with poorer parents, which again negatively affects the rearing of the children, defeating the purpose.

    I do think people should be responsible in their procreation, just like they should be responsible in their driving, but trying to enforce that with punishment (besides the given of punishing people for the direct harm they cause) is not only morally wrong, but in this case seems like it would just cause way way more problems than it could possibly solve.
  • Bartricks
    1.4k
    I am against all licensing.Pfhorrest

    That's quite an extreme position - and if you're opposed to licensing reproduction on grounds that would include being opposed to licensing pilots and surgeons, then I'd say the case for licensing reproduction remains a good one.

    but I think that they should be punished in proportion to the harm they cause --Pfhorrest

    That seems irrational - surely it should be punished in proportion to the wrong they have done? After all, it is for wrongdoing that one deserves punishment, not causing harm.

    Obviously sometimes someone is punished for causing harm, but in such cases the harm for which you are being punished is one that has been judged unjust - that is, it is a harm you were not justified in doing to me.

    For example, imagine you harm me in self-defence. Well, clearly you do not deserve punishment for the harm you have done to me. Why? Because the harm you did to me was just, not unjust.

    You cite practical problems with a procreation licence, but they are not big problems and anyway they do not get at the heart of the philosophical issue. There are practical problems with any licencing scheme - with any justice system.

    Are you going to punish people for having unprotected sex?Pfhorrest

    Yes.

    That's going to require an enormous invasion of privacy to be effectual at all.Pfhorrest

    How so? We currently charge people for attempts - attempted murder, attempted fraud and so forth. And for behaving recklessly, even when no harm to anyone else results. These do not require any enormous invasions of privacy.

    Let's say an unlicensed couple conceive a child and there is no evidence they took any precautions against this. Well, then a good case exists for thinking they had unprotected sex - that is, we have quite compelling prima facie evidence that they behaved recklessly and deserve punishment. Just as, by analogy, if you discover me at the wheel of a car parked on the motorway hard shoulder - me, someone who lacks a licence to drive - then you have good prima facie evidence that I have been driving without a licence.

    In any case, do you force an abortion on them?Pfhorrest

    That would depend on whether abortions are morally permissible in general (and I believe they are). But that's a different issue. The point is that if abortions are not unjust killings, then yes. If they are unjust killings, then no.

    Even if you don't, then what? Do you take the children away from them?Pfhorrest

    Yes.

    Children raised in institutional environments generally fare worse than even the averagely-badly-parented child, so that seems contrary to the intended purpose of protecting the children.Pfhorrest

    Yes, but if we introduced licencing then most children would be much better parented, so overall the welfare of children would improve.

    Do you let the parents keep the children, and just jail one or both of them? Both seems obviously problematicPfhorrest

    No more problematic than cases in which, say, a parent has committed some other crime. Let's say Jane and Tom are excellent parents, but they both commit art fraud for a hobby and we catch them. Now, do we send them to jail and their kids into care? Yes, obviously.

    You keep saying the policy would defeat the purpose.

    No, I see no reason to think it would. You're focussing on the children of offenders, not children generally. Children generally would fare much better as they'd not be brought up by feckless losers.

    Plus the purpose is not just to improve the welfare of children, but to make others behave more responsibly.
  • Bartricks
    1.4k
    Plus, to get the focus back on procreation (rather than on the issue of the justifiability of any and all licencing) - is there any reason why we should not licence procreation, given that we licence adoption?
  • tim wood
    3.4k
    why we should not licence procreation, given that we licence adoption?Bartricks
    In theory, an idea with lots of merit. I don't know the details, but did not the Chinese attempt something like? Better, imo, although a slightly different topic, is a program of incentives for learning to be good parents (and not bad ones), for applying that training, and for not having a child, or too many children.

    As to straight out licensing, we'd all need to see particulars. And likely the best would run from bad to atrocious - can you say "eugenics"? Maybe best because most practicable would be that the parents would be on the hook for the support of the child. And if a girl did not want to identify the father, then she'd have to pay both halves. Of course something like this already exists, with child support payments, and welfare for mothers who otherwise cannot afford their children.

    But the idea, any idea, that government can make close intrusion below the belt is unpalatable, and generally the US Supreme Court has ruled attempts unconstitutional - I cannot see how any such law could be written or what it would say. On the other hand, our children might live to see the day when such laws are just plain necessary.
  • creativesoul
    6.9k


    Licensing reproduction, as in having children?

    Whoa.

    Really? That's a bit too much confidence in the spurious presupposition that we know what the direct consequences of our decision will be.

    So much for the possibility of coming out of the gutter to do great things, and in doing so helping the gutter people rid themselves of some of the gutter-ness all at the same time.
  • khaled
    1.1k
    So much for the possibility of coming out of the gutter to do great things, and in doing so helping the gutter people rid themselves of some of the gutter-ness all at the same time.creativesoul

    The opposite is also a possibility though... So that argument doesn't amount to much in my opinion.

    spurious presupposition that we know what the direct consequences of our decision will be.creativesoul

    The irony is that this presupposition is exactly what you need to have children in the first place. If you knew your child would suffer miserably you wouldn't have him correct? So having children is presupposing they won't suffer or that their suffering will be "low enough" as determined arbitrarily by their parents that it isn't problematic to have them.
  • khaled
    1.1k
    My position on this: Life would be so much better if these were possible but it just isn't
  • Brett
    1.1k


    Likewise, then, we should not permit those who lack the requisite skills to be a good parent (which would include things such as a healthy, demonstrably stable relationship, IQ above a certain level, and a stable financial and emotional situation) to breed.Bartricks

    The problem I have with this idea is what is the best way to raise a child. Once you were a poor parent if you didn’t instil Christian values in them. What sort of values should they have? And how would you prove someone has the prerequisites you mention? A licence suggests that the state knows what’s best for you.
  • Michael
    8.2k
    I don't know the details, but did not the Chinese attempt something like?tim wood

    They had a one-child policy and now have a two-child policy.
  • alcontali
    826
    The reason why we - that is, why civilized people - license these activitites is fairly obvious: do them badly and you can cause others enormous harm.Bartricks

    The reason for licensure is first and foremost to restrict competition in the field and increase profits for the cartel that controls it.

    Regulatory capture (also client politics) is a corruption of authority that occurs when a political entity, policymaker, or regulatory agency is co-opted to serve the commercial, ideological, or political interests of a minor constituency, such as a particular geographic area, industry, profession, or ideological group[1].[2] When regulatory capture occurs, a special interest is prioritized over the general interests of the public, leading to a net loss for society.

    Licensure is never in the interest of society. It is always in the interest of the oligarchy.

    For example, why do so many people have no access to medical care in the USA? Why is it so expensive? Why is it so much cheaper in other countries? There is only one explanation that makes sense: They are ripping these people off by licensing away every cheaper option.

    The reason why it is so easy to rip off these people, is because these people believe in the manipulative lies of the mainstream media and the public-school indoctrination camps. But then again, since these people believe these lies, they should be happy to get stripped clean; and they increasingly are. The same holds true for the student-loan idiots who will be made to pay off for the rest of their lives from the little money they make from serving coffee at Starbucks. They believe in the manipulative lies, and now they must pay. So, let them pay!
  • Coben
    1.1k
    I have sympathy for this position. I think the problem comes in around what is a skill and what is a value. Adoption certain presents tests for parents. But they are asking to get kids that the government has custody of. The government is in loco parentis (sic, likely). So as an already existing parent, it wants to make sure it is handing over the child, who is also already alive and here, to someone who has the potential to do well. Biological parents create their own child. There is no one giving them that child and passing on responsibility.

    I mean, I get it. Parents now have a huge responsibility and one where they right off the bat need the ability to learn and should have basic common sense. And we licence things that are much easier. But generally this has to do with protecting us.

    Now we could say: we should be concerned about that child and protect him or her. But since the parents create that child, goverments have tended to assume they have no right to per se block this until criteria are met, but rather take the role of intervening when they 'fail' in their role.

    And with misgivings I agree. I don't want a government that can prevent people from having children unless they pass through whatever test.

    But if you could say how you would test the parents - perhaps I might change my mind. I think getting down to specific concrete testing procedures might clarify the problems and benefits of such a plan.

    So, I'm open to seeing what I would think if you could make an actual proposal. (and yes, I can imagine varous psosibilities)
  • Bartricks
    1.4k
    I think the details would be for psychologists to sort out, not philosophers - but whatever criteria need to be met for adoption could just be applied to prospective breeders as well.

    any idea, that government can make close intrusion below the belt is unpalatable,tim wood

    I don't think it is - we already make such intrusions, for we do not allow anyone to have sex with anyone, for instance. Plus I have always found that the idea of licensing reproduction is one that many people find perfectly ethical.

    Like any licensing scheme, it could be abused. And some criteria would be more ethically debatable than others. There would also be room to debate to what extent its goal should be merely to prevent the worst kind of parents from breeding, or to promote the best kind of parenting (the former being much easier than the latter, of course).

    It is, I think, also worth reflecting on just how terrible the current system is - nothing prevents a sociopath with poor impulse control, a history of violent abuse and no money from breeding. We could reasonably predict that such a person would make an appalling parent, with results that the rest of society will have to live with for a lifetime. Yet the state in no western country does anything at all to prevent them from becoming a parent.

    Preventing those kinds of people from procreating is a long way from any kind of problematic eugenics, I suggest.
  • Bartricks
    1.4k
    The problem I have with this idea is what is the best way to raise a child. Once you were a poor parent if you didn’t instil Christian values in them. What sort of values should they have? And how would you prove someone has the prerequisites you mention? A licence suggests that the state knows what’s best for you.Brett

    The policy does not have to make substantial assumptions about what the best kind of parenting involves, only what the worst kind involves. Just as driving licences are not designed to ensure that only the best drivers drive, but to stop the worst kind from doing so.

    Take adoption - the adoption process in most civilized countries is heavily regulated precisely in order to weed out the worst. And, as I understand it, it is quite successful at this. I read somewhere that adopted children are five times less likely to be abused by their parents, for instance.
  • Bartricks
    1.4k
    The reason for licensure is first and foremost to restrict competition in the field and increase profits for the cartel that controls it.alcontali

    No, that's sometimes the reason, but it is not the reason being mooted in this case.
  • deletedmemberMD
    590
    I have to say, this is probably one if your more sensible threads in my honest but unbiased opinion @Bartricks

    I feel it highlights the virtues of the utilitarian intent behind your antinatal views and shows a sincere effort to meet people halfway to find some common ground where we can maybe now speak without insulting one another. I feel you have also made efforts to address the demandingness problem in your views to do this. Bravo! Sincerely. My apologies for my part in the circumstances which led to our falling out. Clean slate or would you like to respectfully and formally address specific issues before carrying on with one?

    Fundamentally I agree with licensing; but not for the same reasons as yourself obviously, but I think you'll agree with mine to some extent. The thing licensing does is bring in Education! Education and opportunity are the most powerful contraceptives one could hope for in any part of the world. Equal opportunity for education and diverse education at that.

    Now the thing about licensing; of course some people are going to have kids without permission, however everyone has to access a hospital or midwife and many of these now offer compulsory parenting classes.

    Obviously education isn't perfect and even if we reduce some avenues of suffering more may open. That being said; at least we can improve how we educate as we grow and learn.

    How do you feel about child limits set at realistic intervals? For example one child per adolescent cycle? So not until Child A is 16 or 18 can child B be conceived? Laws would have to be cognizant of twins+ also.

    I feel these sorts of rules serve the purpose of reducing suffering and improving the quality of life even though a percentage of people will not obey them. It's a good start and so long as education is also at the core of any punitive action against those that break licensing laws I'm also agreeable.

    As for issues of equality in giving out licenses; welfare reforms could allow for intensive support and education for those who wish to have children but might otherwise have difficulties in raising them compared to your average person. I feel like this is going back to the idea of community raising where there is enough trust and safety to do so. My point here is simply that access to licenses shouldn't be a problem so long as access to educators is given equally.

    Anyway, very stimulating thread. Well done again. Glad to finally figure out some common ground.
  • alcontali
    826
    Now the thing about licensing; of course some people are going to have kids without permissionMark Dennis

    These people will rather immigrate from elsewhere, gradually outnumber you, and then, sooner or later, simply get rid of you.
  • deletedmemberMD
    590
    These people will rather immigrate from elsewhere, gradually outnumber you, and then, sooner or later, simply get rid of you.alcontali

    Or marry my kids haha
  • Brett
    1.1k


    The policy does not have to make substantial assumptions about what the best kind of parenting involves, only what the worst kind involves. Just as driving licences are not designed to ensure that only the best drivers drive, but to stop the worst kind from doing so.Bartricks

    In that sense you have a fair point. And I don’t doubt that the world would be a better place if we control who has children. I wish I could have more faith in the state and I obviously don’t. A interesting proposition all the same.
  • Bartricks
    1.4k
    Adoption certain presents tests for parents. But they are asking to get kids that the government has custody of. The government is in loco parentis (sic, likely). So as an already existing parent, it wants to make sure it is handing over the child, who is also already alive and here, to someone who has the potential to do well. Biological parents create their own child. There is no one giving them that child and passing on responsibility.Coben

    I do not think this makes a big difference where justifying licencing is concerned.

    We licence pilots because of the terrible harm a totally incompetent pilot can wreak on others. Imagine, however, that if a pilot flies an empty plane above a certain altitude this brings into existence people who then occupy the empty chairs. A bizarre idea, I grant you, but conceivable. Well, wouldn't we still think it right and proper to licence the pilots of these planes? They have brought into existence the passengers on their aircraft - people who would not have existed if we did not allow them to fly - but still, this doesn't seem to affect the need to licence these pilots.

    So it doesn't seem to matter whether the people who'll be endangered by a lack of licencing exist independently of the activity in question, be it flying or procreating.
  • alcontali
    826
    We licence pilots because of the terrible harm a totally incompetent pilot can wreak on others.Bartricks

    We haven't needed pilots to fly planes for over thirty years now.

    In fact, we use a lot of drone technology already, which is safer, better, and cheaper, but we do not use it for commercial passenger flights, the reason being the seventy-year old totally outdated regulations that were suitable for 1950ies technology, but which are still around today.

    Seriously, we simply do not need pilots.

    Licensing has a strong tendency to freeze situations as they were when the regulations were introduced. We started regulating trains in the 1920ies, and that is why the railways remain frozen like things were in 1920. Railways are as unusable today as they were back then.

    Technology and regulations do not go well together.

    The more regulations, the more outdated the country tends to become. Just give it enough time. For example, the USA has the most outdated banking system in the world. The USA are behind on even most African countries when it comes to mobile payments. It is slower and more expensive to wire money between two American bank accounts than between two bank accounts in Kenya.

    Give it a few more decades, and the USA will be behind in terms of technology on literally everything, thanks to ... regulations.

    In every respect, the USA will be worse off than third-world countries today.
  • Brett
    1.1k


    Seriously, we simply do not need pilots.alcontali

    I do.
  • Brett
    1.1k


    The more regulations, the more outdated the country tends to become.alcontali

    How do you see this panning out with licensing for parents? What would be the consequences?
  • alcontali
    826
    How do you see this panning out with licensing for parents? What would be the consequences?Brett

    Since licensing for parents can only limit births in the country that introduces it, I see wholesale immigration of "unlicensed" people, born in unregulated locations, until the bottom of the labour market is no longer attractive to outsiders.

    These wholesale suicidal policies are actually funny to watch. I am not against them, because it mostly backfires on people who believe in them. So, go for it!
  • Brett
    1.1k


    Well I’m not actually for it. But you raise some interesting points.
  • Coben
    1.1k
    Well, wouldn't we still think it right and proper to licence the pilots of these planes?Bartricks
    If the entities that manifested in the planes were the pilots' people, in the sense we think of children being the parents', and these appearing out of nowhere passengers were the creations of those pilots' bodies or actions somehow, and those are the only passengers on these planes, honestly I have no idea how to think of that. I don't know what that is. I don't know where to begin thinking about that.

    I don't really want the government deciding who can have children, but again, if you have a proposal around what the criteria might be, I could begin to consider it. Maybe my concerns would not be there.
  • deletedmemberMD
    590
    In fact, we use a lot of drone technology already, which is safer, better, and cheaper, but we do not use it for commercial passenger flights, the reason being the seventy-year old totally outdated regulations that were suitable for 1950ies technology, but which are still around today.

    Seriously, we simply do not need pilots.
    alcontali

    This would be true; if the code to work all this new technology wasn't also built and written by a perfectly fallible human. Neither technology or man alone is a sure recipe for success but they are both the others contingency. So yes, we do in fact still need pilots. Machine and human pilots. Just as those pilots still need licensing. You still have to license life altering tech.

    Its not like Luke was gonna decide at the last minute "Hey R2! Your calculation skills should be perfect for this! Wanna take over and blow up the death star? Make the Shot R2! Feel the force of math and physics that ingrained into your programming!".
  • alcontali
    826
    So yes, we do in fact still need pilots.Mark Dennis

    No, we don't.

    We also no longer need taxis, because we have things like Uber. We don't need hotels, because we have things like Airbnb. All these technologies and business models are being held up in the West by the same problem: outdated and counterproductive regulations. Countries that do not have them will simply leapfrog ahead.

    That is why is it now mucb easier and cheaper to get around in Saigon than in any American city. No need to buy your own car. Just use Grab. That is also why you can use your mobile to pay for a coffee in Shanghai but not in Seattle. The West is getting behind on even Africa in many ways.

    All of these useless regulations are gradually making the West less and less competitive. It is no longer just a problem of labour cost because of excess taxation. The problems caused by misguided regulation are even larger.

    They think they know, but they clearly don't. There are simply too many people trying to impose their stupidity onto others. The problem even starts at school and university. The students mostly regurgitate mere bullshit. They mistakenly think that they are learning something, but they aren't. They think that they are smart, but in reality, they are the dumbest people on the planet. They are even too stupid to see how stupid they are.

    This phenomenon is busy leading up to the most spectacular economic implosion ever seen on the face of the earth. I don't give it even five years, before it will all be over. As I am writing this comment from Asia, I can guarantee that a spectacular surprise awaits the idiots in the West. That is simply inevitable.
  • deletedmemberMD
    590
    Again yes we do. Planes will always need pilots and will probably need contingencies too in case they fail. As I said before the programmers are all human so technology is not infallible.

    Some AIs have been logged as genuinely feeling they have won a win or lose game simply by pausing the game permanently or losing level two so it doesn't lose the final level.

    So to put that into automated Pilot terms, it might save you from a large crash which will mill you by having you die in a smaller crash. That doesn't sound good to me. Id rather know that a human pilot can jump in at any time if the computer has one of its many many logic farts because the programmer behind it was too busy listening to drum and bass, smoking weed and playing video games when he isn't glued to the screen for work. I should know, my ex flatmate is this guy and he's worked on coding systems for the Australian department of education so I know what I'm talking about here.
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