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    Thread: Is it our moral duty to voluntarily not breed?

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      Hungry Dannon Oneironaut's Avatar
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      Is it our moral duty to voluntarily not breed?

      I have been thinking about this a lot lately.
      Pretty much every single problem facing the human race in particular, and the whole planet in general, would be half as bad if the human population was half of what it is.
      Real estate would be cheaper, lol... Fuel would be cheaper... Environmental destruction, global warming, etc.... all would be better.
      Humans are breeding like lemmings, and it is unsustainable.
      If we keep increasing the population at an exponential rate, there is going to be more suffering.
      There is going to be more starvation, more poverty, more deaths due to natural disasters, more war, more injustice... more environmental destruction.
      Eventually we breed ourselves to death.

      Wouldn't it be our moral responsibility to not breed? To not bring children into this world?
      I know that the state of this world brings me a lot of anxiety... and I would not want to do that to my child, to bring my child into this world that is destined for destruction.

      Even if you really really wanted to experience what it is like to be a mother or a father, can you limit yourself to have just one child? Even if every women had only one child the population would decrease. But no! Families cannot stop at just one child, then they think that their child will not be perfectly well adjusted angels, so they need to have a brother or sister, etc...

      Wake up people! Either we will have to voluntarily reduce our population, or our population will be reduced for us....
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      Sleeping Dragon juroara's Avatar
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      Here's why I disagree with this point of view: Children is how we pass on our way of life. And then those children grow up have children of their own and they pass on their way of life.

      The amount of resources that Americans consume for their way of life is mind boggling. At least here in America, we actually aren't over populated. Our collective problem is our way of life is completely out of touch.

      But what if you go out of your way to live a different kind of life that you find more sane, but you never have a child? What kind of impact do you have on the future? Well unless you're famous, the answer is, not as much as someone who raised a child.

      If you care about the future of mankind, then you have to care about the generation that will be living in it. But who will teach that generation how to live a good life?

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      The population will expand to meet the carrying capacity, whether a few people choose to breed or not. Oil and industrial revolution artificially inflated the carrying capacity and when it wanes so will the population unless we find another source of energy, in which case corporatism's system of artificial scarcity will artificially deflate the carrying capacity. Maybe the universe will get lucky and we'll kill ourselves off before we start expanding into space, in which case perhaps the moral thing to do is overbreed so it ends quicker.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      Hungry Dannon Oneironaut's Avatar
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      Juroara,

      Your argument is a very common one. Unfortunately I don't see any evidence of anybody actually bringing up their children to do anything different. Our children are autonomous human beings, and they just want their iphones no matter how we bring them up. I think that this argument is a rationalization. Really, how many children to you see who are raised off the grid continuing that way of life? Don't you think that if the population was at least half of what it is today it would be easier to raise children in alternative ways? Don't you think that since it is still permissible to have one child and still be reducing the population, that you could raise your child the way you think is best and still be part of the solution, ie. having it both ways?

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      The world isn't overpopulated, and there are more than enough resources to support everyone. Hell, most of Canada is empty - the vast majority of us live within a hundred miles of the Canadian-American border. There was a study done not too long ago that concluded that we have enough resources for everyone to live "the good life," they just aren't distributed proportionately.

      As for children, I don't think we should simply abstain from giving birth to a new generation, but people do need to stop having children before they're ready for them. And imo, to be ready for a child, you have to be self-actualized and self-sufficient - you need to cultivate a well-rounded/balanced personality and lifestyle before you can even think of taking care of anyone else.
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      Hungry Dannon Oneironaut's Avatar
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      Jesus, I can't get away from people. I have to go into the desert to get away from people. The forests are full... Forest service roads with forest police driving around, drones flying overhead taking pictures for google earth, rivers damned up, no flowing water, all of it taken for agriculture or drinking water. I doubt there will be enough water for the next generation here in America. The American West is already fighting over water. I suppose we can truck water in, but that will be expensive as hell and not self sufficient at all. Many rivers don't make it to the ocean out here. Salmon are endangered. etc.... Yes, there is always a way to kill all the other animals and cut down all the forests and using every available surface to supply food for humans. There is plenty of room for everyone to keep breeding if we don't value the rights of the other life on this planet. The forest of Canada and Siberia is the last great forest after the destruction of the rainforests. It is our last great oxygen maker and carbon binder. Who cares about polar bears? We can always keep a few around in zoos. And the same goes for Siberian Tigers and all the other animals. There is enough resources for humans so we don't have to worry or change our way of life at all.

      I am not saying that we should do voluntary extinction, just voluntary reduction. Get in balance. Of course unless somebody is holding a gun to our heads, people are going to keep breeding and rationalizing it. Same with any other animal, I suppose. Humans really are just like any other animal, and don't really behave according to reason.
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      The birthrate isn't nearly as bad as it once was/what people make it out to be.
      We're actually on the decline right now.
      According to here the U.S. birthrate is at its lowest in about 100 years.

      This shows that most (developed) countries have a decently low birthrate.
      The ones that are super high also have a higher mortality rate.

      So really, births aren't that big of a problem. It's just that people are living longer than ever so things aren't really being balanced out.

      Maybe the question should be "should old people be wiped out?" since children have more use than old people. Of course, that's purely hypothetical. I like old people quite a bit.

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      Population growth is dropping in pretty much all developed countries. It could still drop a little more, but I think we are on the right path. I think you can definitely make an argument that people shouldn't have children for the good of humanity, and there are some strong points in favor of such a position. However, I would have to disagree. In my personal belief, I don't really feel it is appropriate to judge people who are not really harming anyone. So I can't say they are morally wrong for having children. I am all for suggesting they don't have them though, and telling them they shouldn't do it lightly and should give it careful consideration before doing so.

      As for spreading your way of life, I think that is a silly reason to have a child. If you just want to give your values to someone, adopt a child, or become a teacher or mentor. You absolutely don't biological offspring in order to spread ideas.

      Any way, I think you got the right idea and there is a lot of people who do not want children. I am one of them. Currently I don't plan on having children until after I am 100 years old, because I think the technology will improve so that overpopulation isn't a problem and I can love forever. If that doesn't happen, then I just will not have children. It isn't a loss for me. I agree that we shouldn't be having a ton of children at this time. I am just not sure I would call it a moral duty.

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      Sleeping Dragon juroara's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Dannon Oneironaut View Post
      Juroara,

      Your argument is a very common one. Unfortunately I don't see any evidence of anybody actually bringing up their children to do anything different. Our children are autonomous human beings, and they just want their iphones no matter how we bring them up. I think that this argument is a rationalization. Really, how many children to you see who are raised off the grid continuing that way of life? Don't you think that if the population was at least half of what it is today it would be easier to raise children in alternative ways? Don't you think that since it is still permissible to have one child and still be reducing the population, that you could raise your child the way you think is best and still be part of the solution, ie. having it both ways?
      Actually, I don't know anyone who's been raised off the grid! So I'm just imagining it can work like that.

      I've never seen population as the problem. This world really is that big and really has that much. All signs point to over consumption and extreme materialism as the problem.

      If the American population is cut in half then people would own twice as much. Houses would be bigger. Pools would be bigger. Rides would be bigger. How much property would be wilderness and how much would be owned? Probably about the same.

      It's a dream come true for people who want more and for people who don't want to look at neighbors.

      But reducing the population doesn't solve over consumption. It just means that LESS people get to have MORE.

      It doesn't solve the problem of habitat destruction or other eco issues. After all, it was country folk who looked at forests and saw profit. It was country folk who destroyed the top soil and created the dust bowl. It was country folk who nearly made the buffalo extinct. It was country folk who got fat off of oil.

      Reducing the population and granting everyone the capacity to live in countryside doesn't solve those issues. It doesn't make them stewards of the earth, it doesn't mean they care.

      Urban centers on the other hand are saving the earth from the boon of population. Imagine if all those city folk decided "I want all the luxuries of city living but I want a 2000 sq ft house". And there you have suburban sprawl spreading like a cancer. Suburban sprawl is what happened when people wanted MORE than what city life could offer them.

      Its how people live, not how many people are alive, that is the problem.

      I'm in SA Texas, this is a big city. Everyday I drive along with thousands of cars on the highway. Car after car, after car, after car. The sight is sobering. Even worse in Dallas because you can clearly see a brown, sometimes greenish, smog over the whole city.

      But then I imagined, what would that highway look like if all the cars and trucks were invisible? The highway would actually look pretty empty. Because everyone going to and from work is driving alone!! What if we were all packed into buses instead? Not saying its practical, but still. Pack us into buses and Dallas would look unrecognizable.

      The problem isn't that there were thousands using the highway. The problem is that there are thousands using the highway driving their own vehicles. Texas is all about private ownership, it didn't care to design roads for easy public transit.

      My problem with the idea that the population needs to be reduced is: its creates the false concept that PEOPLE themselves are the problem. PEOPLE are the problem! That's what this mindset says and its getting disturbing.

      Go to a crowded mall - oh look - a 1000 PROBLEMS walking around. Read about a 1000 new births in your area. Oh look, 1000 new problems were born today. No, not a 1000 humans with potential. Just 1000 problems the world is better off without having been born. This is the growing trend of off-griders and pro-choicers and frankly its disturbing and needs to stop.

      One of the local newspapers were going on a pro-choice rant, how horrible they argued, that so many more babies are being born in this city. It went on to list how much taxes are used to help these new humans be born. As if to argue, because they cost tax payer money it would be better had they not been born. It made no mention that these new humans will one day be adults and be productive members of society, and pay taxes themselves. Which means in the long run they generate MORE income than is ever spent on them. But arguing the value and worth of another human being based off how much money is spent or wasted on them is disgusting to begin with.

      At the heart of this argument that less people should be born, or having a frowny face on someones literal birth day, is the idea, this concept that "PEOPLE are the problem". A problem to whom and to want --------other people?

      And I find it morally unacceptable to make it morally wrong to want to have your own children. Its great if a person can adopt. But the reality is, for the vast majority of us, adopting a child does not replace knowing that your child is created from your love. Its human nature. And its a human right. Because the idea that its somehow morally wrong to breed - will just lead to female shaming that she didn't choose abortion. Pregnancy - yeah - that happens.

      We need to find a balance instead.

    10. #10
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      Quote Originally Posted by Dannon Oneironaut View Post

      Wouldn't it be our moral responsibility to not breed? To not bring children into this world?
      I know that the state of this world brings me a lot of anxiety... and I would not want to do that to my child, to bring my child into this world that is destined for destruction.

      Wake up people! Either we will have to voluntarily reduce our population, or our population will be reduced for us....
      Anti-natilism may be intimidating for some because of the premise that preventing harm, even if a person doesn’t come to existence, is good because the chances of harm was halted. But then it raises questions if it’s also a pragmatic stance of preventing good from manifesting (e.g. overcoming hardships, living safe quotidian lifestyles, engaging in gregarious spirit with others, experiencing pleasure, living for the sake of living and embarking on a progressive learning curve of life).

      In my opinion, it’s (anti-natalism) not necessarily good, but it’s not bad either. There probably may be shifts to fatalistic speculation for some (e.g. “humanity will inevitably end, might as well reduce as much suffering as possible”), but they don’t have to be conflated with anti-natialism in particular. As for morals, I guess it depends on a myriad of factors (e.g. cultural distinctions in child-rearing, whether or not there’s a worthy long-term compensating good for transient struggles in an individual’s life, existence preceding essence (existentialism)).

      To reach a resolve on something like this, especially with circumstances getting the best of us at times, easing our conscience, and biological predispositions playing some factor, is definitely difficult. Maybe to you, it's more of feeling that it's an existential duty rather than one of morals, and whatever implications it may be, it's a matter of disposition of course. One concern could be whether or not having a sentient being (that may be subject to suffering) is going to be worth it, and if that sentient being ends up being a conduit of the parent's desires, dreams, goals, ambition that they probably won't be able to achieve, rather than the child fostering their own personal dispositions and foundations over the course of their lives.

      Utilitarianism (e.g. maximizing pleasure that pro-natalists may subscribe to until it becomes logically impossible to sustain overpopulation), or minimizing suffering (but reducing chances for pleasure), euphemisms for fatalism, and such are all good things to consider. And the anti-natalistic standpoint (e.g. voluntarily not procreating) offers the chance for others to contemplate deeply instead of feeling they need to be coerced into procreasting. And diversions, or sublimation really, from those predispositions for procreation could be through adoption like Alric mentioned.
      Last edited by Linkzelda; 03-09-2014 at 04:23 AM.
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      He's asking in terms of contributing to the problems brought about by over population, not causing suffering to a being by bringing them into existence with inherent suffering. Though I like this debate and would like to have it in the philosophy thread, I think you misunderstand.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      Debates where everyone is right are my personal favorite, and this is definitely one of them. Funny thing, though, as has already been mentioned, it may also be a purely academic debate.

      It seems to me that humanity has already begun, in its last generation or two, to check its once relentless infestation of this planet. Birthrates are down across the first world, with some countries beginning to worry about their population base. I even read of a new trend in Japan where kids aren't even interested in sex anymore -- I wasn't really believing it, but the notion is intriguing.

      On top of that, even we Ugly Americans are finally getting a bit more responsible: greed has become a little less "good," recycling is a part of our lives, pollution is on the decline, families with more than three kids are considered huge, sport-utes are finally being replaced by more efficient cars, and thanks to the internet the current generation of kids is more connected to each other and to society itself than ever before (responsibility, a concept completely abandoned by the Baby Boomers, is back in vogue). Not to mention that, at least in the West, the stigma that used to follow childless couples is long gone, and same-sex, childless, relationships are practically mainstream.

      ... and so on; I think my point is clear. We may already be adjusting our infestation problem already, though we're not conscious of the adjustment. Interesting thought. Another interesting thought: 30 years ago, well-informed predictors assumed the world population would be hovering at around 20 billion by now.

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      30 years ago we were supposed to have hover-boards by now, too.

      Oh snap!

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      ^^ No, hoverboards were props in a movie, not scientifically and statistically forecast assumptions based on fairly established numbers and trends. But point taken, regardless.
      Last edited by Sageous; 03-09-2014 at 06:40 PM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Original Poster View Post
      He's asking in terms of contributing to the problems brought about by over population, not causing suffering to a being by bringing them into existence with inherent suffering. Though I like this debate and would like to have it in the philosophy thread, I think you misunderstand.
      I never implied he wanted to cause suffering to a being, this is merely addressing his seemingly anti-natalistic queries based on the circumstances. It's pretty simple: reconsidering before procreating for the sake of reducing the potential of suffering that may come with sentience, but this isn't absolving discussion of the potential for experiencing good either.

      The examples mentioned above would be something others would speculate when it comes to voluntarily not procreating. Nowhere in my post was I mentioning that someone is coercing an individual into suffering. Nowhere did I mention that suffering is inherent, merely that with sentience, people are likely to experience suffering in some way. It's a circumstantial case where it's fair game for anyone, that's the beauty of impasse speculations like this, diversion is inevitable (e.g. there's no wrong or right answer to something like this).
      Last edited by Linkzelda; 03-09-2014 at 06:42 PM.

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      We aren't over populated, our standards are just too high.
      The earth is in fact capable of sustaining such a large amount of people, if everyone chose to live ultra sensibly. It's unlikely that would ever happen, especially since so many eastern countries are trying to copy the western lifestyle.

      To give you an example. To sustain a human in western lifestyle requires roughly 0.5+ hectares of land. The actual figure is even higher since we are not accounting for failed harvests etc. The total amount of arable land on earth fluctuates around 1.4 billion hectares. In the most ideal situation possible, the earth can sustain 2.8 billion people on a western diet. Note that this is a sustainable diet, meaning that we are probably talking of less than two serving's of meat per week.

      However, the absolute minimum amount of land a human needs to survive is roughly 0.07 hectares, which would put us at a potential population of 19.6 billion people!!! Off course, this figure is in the case that everything is done as efficiently as possible. This type of a lifestyle is bare minimum and exclusively vegetarian (eggs, fish etc are fine).

      The moment we include meat into the equation the sustainability entirely drops. The real figures are dreadful to say the least. The majority of crops are running at less than 30% efficiency, the average American eats 1-1.5kg (2-3 pounds) of red meat eve30kg of grain can feed a human for more than a month.

      There is absolutely no way to sustain a western diet through common agriculture. Our moral duty is to stop being idiots and start living sustainably. If all western people spent a single fucking minute of there day thinking about their meals the whole world could live happy basic lives.

      For anyone interested in statistics Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
      Last edited by dutchraptor; 03-09-2014 at 07:23 PM.
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      I think cutting back the population growth rate would be a good idea for the well-being of humanity and the natural beauty of earth. My theory on it is have 2 children and most; at least just replace yourselves.

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      My theory is that we should set forward parameters for breeding. For example, there should be an IQ test and a screening to make sure you're not Jewish.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      ^^ Point made again!

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      Hungry Dannon Oneironaut's Avatar
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      Well you folks give me hope.... Thank you!

      I don't think that people are inherently the problem, but too many people using too much.
      I often come across arguments such as "There is plenty of land we haven't used yet! We can cut down the last of the forest for farming our food! There is still wilderness out there we haven't raped for resources yet!" and honestly that argument only proves my point! Lol... Those are the people I wish weren't born... kind of being facetious and kind of being serious. I think that the animals should have rights to the land as well and we should share with them.

      The suffering and happiness thing is interesting. Yes bringing a child into the world will bring them suffering because this world is crazy. Yet there is the potential for them to find happiness as well. But the amount of suffering available far outweighs the amount of happiness available.... But that isn't really what this debate is about, although it is interesting to think about. I like the idea of quality of life over quantity of life, as if we need to have as many people as possible in order that the most people as possible can experience happiness.

      But thanks again folks, I am feeling more hopeful after reading these comments... Keep it up!
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      I don't share your hope unfortunately, people will only change once it's too late. For most problems, it's already too late.
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      ^^ Well that's a downer.

      It's a good thing, then, that people also possess the power to create and to bear compassion. Throw those two together after "it's already too late," and you have an albeit smaller group of people armed with the potential to rebuild the world that was destroyed by their parents. Maybe also then some lessons will have been learned. Makes one wonder how many times this cycle has repeated...
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      Evolutionarily speaking, morals are rooted in the attempted survival of the human species. However, with the increasing overpopulated human population in a world with limited resources, we can only hope that technological advances as well as an increase in conservative practices (this is why I totally don't agree with extreme left-wingers, despite being part of the new generation).

      It's attractive to believe that, like Agent Smith from The Matrix, says "we are a cancer," but our prime physical purpose is to survive as a species, which goes for all beings. The human being has the capacity to create as well as destroy, and I understand that this balance fluctuates often, causing us to lose hope sometimes. If we give up now, then what was all the past trials and tribulations for?
      naturals are what we call people who did all the right things accidentally

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      It makes sense to be responsible and limit yourself in the interest of everyone else, but suggesting we should stop reproducing altogether and to do so be considered a moral obligation makes as much sense as being morally obliged to have a child, and to compensate, kill yourself, leaving a single parent to raise the child and thus neutralizing the population change. In fact, I would prefer the latter over the former because if it's really such a moral obligation to prevent life from taking place so that others can enjoy the pleasures (and sorrows) of life, it seems far more fair and less selfish to off yourself than to deny someone else the experiences you've already had. Don't you agree, Dannon Oneironaut?

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      Now I'm no scientist expert or anything but I do suggest that it is jumping to a wild conclusion to say that breeding is the cause of problems. I think it's more complex than that. Fewer people does not mean better lifestyle. A large percentage of the world's land is not even inhabited. If you have ever taken a flight on a plane and looked out the window you can see just how much land is not being used at all. I suggest that it is the way people live their life that is the problem. Not how much room there is or what resources are available.

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