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« What Dr. Moreland Said | Main | The Man in the White Lab Coat »

November 28, 2007


"Eventually these advantages will be used as evidence to suggest it’s superior to the old idea in some way that appeals to the intellectual fashion of the day."

I guess its a good thing that there wasn't a Lileks around in previous times. One thinks of William Wilberforce and Martin Luther. Those with a little imagination will no doubt come up with other examples.

Lileks is describing the process by which we advance as a society. What happens in that a feared and dreaded change occurs and the sky doesn't fall after all and most everyone realizes "no big deal" and life goes on.

You're ignoring reality. There is a specific belief proposed here:

"It is immoral to have children".

Do you understand the consequences if such an idea takes hold in a culture? You say "life goes on" yet this is exactly what will NOT happen.

"I didn't like having a termination, but it would have been immoral to give birth to a child that I felt strongly would only be a burden to the world."

Hi JJ, I don't see any advocacy here, just a personal decision. Our current cultural "tool kit" allows folks who don't want to reproduce to invoke environmental considerations. These may be real or rationalizations and folks like those in the story in an earlier day might have chosen other reasons or felt enough pressure that they reproduced against their better judgment.

I still don't get the problem here. Is there one person reading this who has never encountered circumstances that raised the thought in their minds that some folks should never be parents? I usually can't make it through Target or Whole Foods without thinking that at least two or three times. Our prisons and streets are full of folks whose parents should have thunk a second time. Anyway, if someone is prescient enough to understand that they are among those who shouldn't be parents before they wind up foisting their bad decision on the rest of us, I am inclined to praise them.

"You say "life goes on" yet this is exactly what will NOT happen."

All that is necessary is for there to be an average of 1.1 offspring per person in order for us to persist as a species. There appears to be plenty of folks who want three or more to keep us from voluntary extinction.

The claim was that it was an immoral act to have the child based on a strong feeling of the results.

Set aside the problem with basing moral requirements on strong feeling.

Is this just a personal preference or is it a claim to a moral standard which would apply to others?

A moral claim, in my view, constitutes advocacy, a personal preference does not.

Alan said: "Is there one person reading this who has never encountered circumstances that raised the thought in their minds that some folks should never be parents?"

One might wish that they be better parents, as I myself have wished I was with my two children.

Hi William, I was assuming a vernacular usage as that is most likely when regular folk use words and phrases like "moral", "theory", "hypothesis", etc. that have loose common meanings while also being terms of art in formal disciplines. There are many recent examples of that on this very blog :-).

Coming out with the claim of a high global purpose for something that is actually a personal decision made for personal reasons is often a way of bypassing residual qualms or simply shutting people up.

While we all can be doing a better job at just about everything, there really are some people that are constitutionally unsuited for doing any given X. Sometimes X is reproduction; sometimes X is parenting; sometimes it is both; sometimes it is running the world's first modern Republic.


I think your assumption here was not warranted.

"Having children is selfish. It's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet," says Toni, 35.

This is clearly not a claim of personal preference. There is a moral judgement being made.

Or a rationalization. The drive to reproduce is deeply wired into most of us mammals but not all of us. Not all of those who lack that instinct will express it in the same way.

Not knowing her we are not able to tell which of us is projecting.

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