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Procreation and morality

Procreation and morality
December 09, 2010, 03:05:01 AM
People in societies in which their acts of procreation are coerced, people with certain cognitive defects, people without sufficient education to realize what procreation entails, victims of sexual violation impregnated without adequate resources. Whether it goes without revealing there it is: all these people can be excused as too ignorant and/or helpless to morally choose whether to procreate.

For the rest of us, what does it mean to choose to procreate? Why, to impose life on another person, clearly. Often social pressures or norms and biological yens take the forefront of people choosing this peculiar activity. At most morality is considered in conditional terms, waiting to be developmentally, financially, in relationship before the desired result inevitably is attempted.

Is it taboo to suggest the question of if procreation is immoral? I wouldn't know since the words have never slipped out of my mouth and really can't think of an example hearing it besides that old comedian who said something like, 'every so many seconds a woman is with child - someone should stop her' but I'm wondering if I'm misconstruing the intended meaning since what I think is being suggested is completely foreign. Maybe it's just another way of saying life sucks, human race sucks, oh well it's what we live in rather than anything to do with procreation.

I think it is immoral. Life entails excruciating suffering at some points, and if you are one of the few ones this is not true for, it's very likely your early death caused sorrow for your family or else you have a rare disability causing your nervous system not to feel properly, and the effects of your defects will be a burden on those who bring you up. How can there even be a question among us that even risking imposing life on another is immoral?

Pain itself is intrinsically bad but can be extrinsically good. Excruciating suffering is bad bad bad stupid pointless!

Re: Procreation and morality
December 09, 2010, 04:20:56 AM
Nothing is intrinsically "good" or "bad".  Remove arbitrary concepts of "good" and "bad" from your mind: these things serve only to cloud your judgment.  Focus instead on how you can best adapt to reality, and reality's requirements of you.  I am an optimist, and so I relish the joys of life.  Life may be suffering, but there is joy even in the midst of suffering.  My goal in this life is to promote joyful experience, and I can achieve that, in one way, by procreating, and enabling the joy of my child/children.

Re: Procreation and morality
December 09, 2010, 05:35:49 AM
Nothing is intrinsically "good" or "bad".  Remove arbitrary concepts of "good" and "bad" from your mind: these things serve only to cloud your judgment.  Focus instead on how you can best adapt to reality, and reality's requirements of you.  I am an optimist, and so I relish the joys of life.  Life may be suffering, but there is joy even in the midst of suffering.  My goal in this life is to promote joyful experience, and I can achieve that, in one way, by procreating, and enabling the joy of my child/children.

What exactly do you mean by good and bad then if nothing intrinsically can have such properties? I take it "adapting to reality" or "joy" are not good in themselves? But by suggesting that we strive for such things in themselves, aren't you implying that they are good?

"Joy" = the sole intrinsic Good; "adapting to reality" = understanding how things work and acting accordingly, so that we are better able to strive towards the Good.

What are the laws which govern the world (descriptive account)? How can we manipulate these to achieve the Good (normative account)? At any one time we have only a partial answer to these questions, but we can get a pretty good approximation and extract from this general principles which can be followed.


Procreation should be left for those with the genes which would best allow for an adapting to the Good, who would live in environments which would allow for the child to develop so as to attain to this Good. We should shift the rates of procreation towards those amongst us who are inherently best (regarded in terms of their genes leading to maximal attainment of the Good) amongst us. This could be done in quite indirect ways, by manipulating the social environment to affect birth-rates.

Re: Procreation and morality
December 09, 2010, 07:42:51 AM
I think what you're saying lolokay is that morality and reality are subjective to human perception, but that good and bad exist as in relation to us biologically through evolution: good = life, bad = decay.

Cargest: You can't claim to be an optimist if good and bad don't exist. I could explain this in detail, but it's pretty obvious.

Re: Procreation and morality
December 09, 2010, 08:45:28 AM
There's a difference between "good" meaning "benefice" and "good" meaning "morally good".  I was talking about the latter when I said that "good/bad" don't exist, because they categorically do not.

Furthermore, how is it impossible to be an optimist without good/bad?  Optimism awaits the best result, which need be neither "good" nor "bad", in a moral sense.  I anticipate getting a first in my major, but this is neither good nor bad, it's simply beneficial to me.  Unless you subscribe to a morality which places some importance on acting for the sake of the self (hurr durr Ayn Rand), then there's nothing moral about self-interest.

Re: Procreation and morality
December 09, 2010, 12:15:16 PM
I am in agreement with Carsalesmenést on this one, don't try to "humanize" reality, or understand from that filter.

OP, your calling the cycle of life immoral, that is absurdly anthropomorphic!

Reminds me of this:
" I never asked to be born in the first place"
Kurt Vonnegut

Re: Procreation and morality
December 09, 2010, 01:52:08 PM
The first paragraph was the only clear and agreeable one in the OP's message. The rest are just unclear.

There's a difference between "good" meaning "benefice" and "good" meaning "morally good".  I was talking about the latter when I said that "good/bad" don't exist, because they categorically do not.

Furthermore, how is it impossible to be an optimist without good/bad?  Optimism awaits the best result, which need be neither "good" nor "bad", in a moral sense.  I anticipate getting a first in my major, but this is neither good nor bad, it's simply beneficial to me.  Unless you subscribe to a morality which places some importance on acting for the sake of the self (hurr durr Ayn Rand), then there's nothing moral about self-interest.

What you describe here is exactly Randian pragmatism ("beneficial to me"), only it is without the usual, but crucial, libertarian / liberal line saying "do what you will as long as you don't harm others" (moral judgment), which makes Randian philosophy not only solitary but communal.

Pragmatic / beneficial good = in the end  makes the individual feel good / individual healthy, joyous and so on.
Moral good = in the end makes a society / people feel good, healthy, joyous and so on.

You cannot escape moral judgments and imperatives when dealing with the proper behavior an entire society / community is suppose to act upon. "Good" and "Bad" are mandatory in that sense.
As I see it, you escape the issue the OP presented by retreating into the self. When you retreat to the relativism of  the self - you put yourself beyond ethics, and this is why you can say anything which is supposedly "immoral". This doesn't help us uncover what exactly is a proper social behavior.
This is the moral question the OP raised: "How can there even be a question among us that even risking imposing life on another is immoral?"
You do not address this question directly.


Re: Procreation and morality
December 09, 2010, 02:10:39 PM
I think it is immoral. Life entails excruciating suffering at some points, and if you are one of the few ones this is not true for, it's very likely your early death caused sorrow for your family or else you have a rare disability causing your nervous system not to feel properly, and the effects of your defects will be a burden on those who bring you up. How can there even be a question among us that even risking imposing life on another is immoral?

Pain itself is intrinsically bad but can be extrinsically good. Excruciating suffering is bad bad bad stupid pointless!

I'm not sure I'm following your argument. You say, "Life entails excruciating suffering at some points," and I presume that you would readily acknowledge that life entails excruciating suffering at only some points (pretty obvious, right?). It is quite clear that at some points not only is excruciating suffering absent, but also that at some points life is extremely enjoyable. But then why wouldn't that be just as good of an argument for why "imposing life on others" is moral? It seems like you're not being evenhanded. It looks like the reasonable thing to infer from the considerations adduced so far is that the mere existence of excruciating suffering is not enough of a reason to decide either way whether "imposing life" is immoral.

You also make a distinction at the end between pain and excruciating suffering and you point out that while the former can be extrinsically good, the latter is just bad all the way around. Two things about this confuse me, namely, the role it plays in your reasoning and the reasons for taking the claim to be true. Regarding the first issue, what's the point of saying this? Do you mean to imply that if only mere pain existed, then life would be vindicated? Regarding the second issue, why think the claim is true in the first place? Why can't excruciating suffering be extrinsically good? After all, isn't it just pain, except pain at the very far end of the pain spectrum? It doesn't seem to be a different kind of thing.

Re: Procreation and morality
December 09, 2010, 08:29:52 PM
What you describe here is exactly Randian pragmatism ("beneficial to me")

Actually, it's my odd form of consequentialism, as the benefice is a general one and not a specific one.  In the example I gave, the forecasted result was beneficial to me; in any number of other situations, my optimism determines beneficial results for others.

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Pragmatic / beneficial good = in the end  makes the individual feel good / individual healthy, joyous and so on.
Moral good = in the end makes a society / people feel good, healthy, joyous and so on.

A individual must exist outside of society in order to be able to properly assess that society.

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You cannot escape moral judgments and imperatives when dealing with the proper behavior an entire society / community is suppose to act upon.

We're not dealing with that, though.  We're dealing with the supposed moral wrongness of procreating.

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As I see it, you escape the issue the OP presented by retreating into the self.

Huh.  Didn't know observing from without was the same as retreating within.

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When you retreat to the relativism of  the self - you put yourself beyond ethics, and this is why you can say anything which is supposedly "immoral".

What does "retreat to the relativism of the self" mean?  I do hope you understand that Moral Relativism is an observation of fact, and not a suggestion of action - morality is relative to individuals and individual cultures.  This is a simple truth.  Secondly, I'm positing an amoral response, rather than an immoral one.

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This doesn't help us uncover what exactly is a proper social behavior.

I don't particularly care what conclusions other people reach until those conclusions start to affect my experience of reality in some way.

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This is the moral question the OP raised: "How can there even be a question among us that even risking imposing life on another is immoral?"
You do not address this question directly.

Yes I do.  I state that talking about it in terms of "good" and "bad" is an incorrect manner of thinking, and that the solution to the supposed problem is to alter perspective.  Whether this answer is sufficient for you or not is neither here nor there.  Quit being so selfish!

Re: Procreation and morality
December 09, 2010, 10:35:18 PM
People do say now and then the phrase "I wouldn't want to raise a child in this kind of world", it's not a totally uncanny sentiment.

Re: Procreation and morality
December 09, 2010, 11:15:12 PM
Hopefully not too incoherent here.

There's a difference between "good" meaning "benefice" and "good" meaning "morally good".  I was talking about the latter when I said that "good/bad" don't exist, because they categorically do not ... Optimism awaits the best result, which need be neither "good" nor "bad"

What constitutes benefice, and how is this different from goodness in the moral sense?
Does "morally good" mean the same as "ethically good"? As I understand it, saying that ethical goodness does not exist is equivalent to saying that of any two states of experience (good in themselves) or actions (good for their consequences) neither can be said to be preferred to any other = fatalism. Consequentialism is still an ethical system, and the things which are "good for their effects" must ultimately be justified in terms of something which is "good in itself".

There doesn't appear to be any or much difference in terms of implications for guiding action so the point need not be dragged out any further, but getting terminology sorted out is quite important for building a consensus on such a matter, and thus constructively building up ideas collectively.

I think what you're saying lolokay is that morality and reality are subjective to human perception

This sounds about right.

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but that good and bad exist as in relation to us biologically through evolution: good = life, bad = decay.

I'm not sure if this is what I meant. Good = leads to good outcomes as defined subjectively1 above. Life may well be a necessary condition for this2, but is certainly not sufficient, in the sense that life differs greatly in its quality. Life is the vessel through which we can strive for the good, and as we learn how we can achieve this, either consciously, as can be done by humans, by gradual environmental changes as organisms structure their surroundings to attain the good, or by genetic evolution3.

1 - subjective as in relating to experience of the subject, not as in defined however any individual feels like defining it
2 - it may also not be; for all we know chemicals and stars could go through periods of joy and suffering during their changes from one state to another. Could the principle of attraction and repulsion between two charged bodies even be a result of a striving towards the good?
3 - I hypothesise that the variability in the attainment of the good is increased during evolution and reduced during stagnation, and that this then does imply that evolution/life, rather than decay, leads to a greater attainment of the good, on average

Re: Procreation and morality
December 10, 2010, 03:49:16 AM
Hopefully not too incoherent here.

There's a difference between "good" meaning "benefice" and "good" meaning "morally good".  I was talking about the latter when I said that "good/bad" don't exist, because they categorically do not ... Optimism awaits the best result, which need be neither "good" nor "bad"

What constitutes benefice, and how is this different from goodness in the moral sense?
Does "morally good" mean the same as "ethically good"? As I understand it, saying that ethical goodness does not exist is equivalent to saying that of any two states of experience (good in themselves) or actions (good for their consequences) neither can be said to be preferred to any other = fatalism. Consequentialism is still an ethical system, and the things which are "good for their effects" must ultimately be justified in terms of something which is "good in itself".

There doesn't appear to be any or much difference in terms of implications for guiding action so the point need not be dragged out any further, but getting terminology sorted out is quite important for building a consensus on such a matter, and thus constructively building up ideas collectively.

"Benefice" would simply be "that which is beneficient", and whatever actually constitutes "that which is beneficient" is up for discussion.  I think the difference between "benefice" and "moral goodness" lies in that, while deontological morality has to look at the intentions of the moral actor in order to ascertain the moral rightness of an action, "benefice" would look simply to the consequence.  However, unlike consequentialism, "benefice" might not be seen as being "good", or may even be seen as being "evil", while still yielding a better result for whoever's involved, depending on what is found to be beneficient for most people.

As a concept, it's a lot closer to Utilitarianism, though without the focus on "all people", and with a different concept of "good" (closer to Eudaimonia than the "happiness" which a lot of Utilitarians seem to hold as the summum bonum).  I make the distinction because I don't see how actions or their products can be "good" or "bad" in their own right - I can only see how actors could be considered to be "good" or "bad" in their actions (and even then, I put much more store on being pragmatic and rational than on being "good", in the casual sense of the word "good").  It seems that the problem, for me, comes from seeing consequentialism as a more viable way of looking at morality, but being unable to reconcile this perception with the belief that results simply are, and cannot be "good" or "bad" in the way that humans are seen to be.  This is why I prefer Virtue Ethics, when it comes to Moral Theory - ignore "acting morally", focus on "being virtuous".

I don't see how a lack of ethical goodness implies fatalism, at all.  If anything, a lack of ethical goodness enables more rational appreciation of reality, and the possible effects of actions, as one is not constrained by what is considered by a society or culture to be "right" or "wrong".  The problem is in this use of the word "good".  I have a problem with the concept of objective "moral goodness" (in that it has yet to be proven to exist), but I absolutely endorse the search for "good" results of actions.  The difference is difficult to articulate, and I hope I've done it in this post.

Edit: also, for the purposes of this thread particularly, I've never understood the association between "moral goodness" and "suffering" or "joy".  The concept that it's morally good to halt suffering or spread joy seems wholly arbitrary, to me, based only on the fact that the majority of humans prefer joy to suffering.  It's a human thing, and yet morality is supposed to be above humanity in some way.

Re: Procreation and morality
December 10, 2010, 04:39:50 AM
A individual must exist outside of society in order to be able to properly assess that society.

Ideally, an individual could do that. Unfortunately, one can never be the detached outside observer.

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You cannot escape moral judgments and imperatives when dealing with the proper behavior an entire society / community is suppose to act upon.
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We're not dealing with that, though.  We're dealing with the supposed moral wrongness of procreating.
OK. I thought the OP said something about whether preventing procreation from other people is moral or immoral. As I said, morality concerns a society, and as far as I can tell we're still dealing with the social implications of procreation, and the moral stance it generates. Which brings me to this:

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Huh.  Didn't know observing from without was the same as retreating within.
Well, when you say "beneficial to me" you try to evade the discourse on ethics to a self-appeasing arrangement. I believe this is mere trickery.

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What does "retreat to the relativism of the self" mean?  I do hope you understand that Moral Relativism is an observation of fact, and not a suggestion of action - morality is relative to individuals and individual cultures.  This is a simple truth.  Secondly, I'm positing an amoral response, rather than an immoral one.
It begins with relativism (observation of facts - which is relative / subjective to the viewer), and continues with a actions, which are also "relative".
Amoralism has no communal antecedent in reality. Amoralism is perhaps a stance we can brace as individuals who are not affected by other people and do not affect them as well. Even the cruelest warrior societies have morality or ethics among themselves,  simply because ethics address questions which concern the lot of many. I said: "You cannot escape moral judgments and imperatives when dealing with the proper behavior an entire society / community is suppose to act upon". This is why I think you evade to address the question directly in that you're not accepting to the division between "good" and "bad".

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I don't particularly care what conclusions other people reach until those conclusions start to affect my experience of reality in some way.
And then...?

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Yes I do.  I state that talking about it in terms of "good" and "bad" is an incorrect manner of thinking, and that the solution to the supposed problem is to alter perspective.  Whether this answer is sufficient for you or not is neither here nor there.  Quit being so selfish!

Well, apparently this incorrect manner of thinking is our only conception of morality / ethics (Both in ethics and morality we speak of "good" and "bad" or "proper" and "improper") and amoralism simply does not concern communities or societies.
And please, I do not attack you as a person. I'm not being selfish and I do not understand why would you react this way. This is obviously irrational.

Re: Procreation and morality
December 10, 2010, 05:34:40 AM
"Benefice" would simply be "that which is beneficient", and whatever actually constitutes "that which is beneficient" is up for discussion.  I think the difference between "benefice" and "moral goodness" lies in that, while deontological morality has to look at the intentions of the moral actor in order to ascertain the moral rightness of an action, "benefice" would look simply to the consequence.  However, unlike consequentialism, "benefice" might not be seen as being "good", or may even be seen as being "evil", while still yielding a better result for whoever's involved, depending on what is found to be beneficient for most people.

Perhaps you're using beneficient in the same way that I am using good? I tend to draw a distinction between morality and ethics, and while I largely agree with your conception of morality (as something which depends on intentions, or as something depending on people's beliefs) I see this as only one particular way of viewing ethics (of which consequentialism is another type).

By contrasting good with evil I definitely think that we are using the terms differently.

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As a concept, it's a lot closer to Utilitarianism, though without the focus on "all people", and with a different concept of "good" (closer to Eudaimonia than the "happiness" which a lot of Utilitarians seem to hold as the summum bonum).  I make the distinction because I don't see how actions or their products can be "good" or "bad" in their own right - I can only see how actors could be considered to be "good" or "bad" in their actions (and even then, I put much more store on being pragmatic and rational than on being "good", in the casual sense of the word "good").  It seems that the problem, for me, comes from seeing consequentialism as a more viable way of looking at morality, but being unable to reconcile this perception with the belief that results simply are, and cannot be "good" or "bad" in the way that humans are seen to be.  This is why I prefer Virtue Ethics, when it comes to Moral Theory - ignore "acting morally", focus on "being virtuous".

Utilitarianism is often misinterpreted/misapplied and abused, but it seems to me to be quite solid in theory (if my interpretation of it is correct, then I view to it to be the ultimate ethical principle). The focus on "all people" means that we have to consider the whole state of things (and future repercussions), and all effects of an action rather than just on a particular subset (e.g. "how does this effect me?" while ignoring how it effects everything else). The problem with being pragmatic/rational, is that you need to have some goal with which you are working towards (does this action work in achieving this goal? can I logically demonstrate this?) - pragmatism/rationality without this is empty (any logical system needs its axioms).

By stating that you think good/bad only makes sense when applied to people makes it sounds like you're using the words as they would be used in the sense of "good guys and bad guys" in a story or whatever, which is not what is meant (or what I mean, anyway, and the majority of philosophers I'm familiar with agree) by ethical goodness. Again, a large part of the difference probably comes down to terminology, but I feel there is some other disagreement as well.

I like virtue ethics too, but as I see it virtue ethics is a few steps removed from the fundamental ethical system. The virtues which are hailed as virtues must be ones that tend to increase goodness, or "benefice". Virtues must themselves be justified based on some higher principles which they tend to work towards.

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I don't see how a lack of ethical goodness implies fatalism, at all.  If anything, a lack of ethical goodness enables more rational appreciation of reality, and the possible effects of actions, as one is not constrained by what is considered by a society or culture to be "right" or "wrong".  The problem is in this use of the word "good".  I have a problem with the concept of objective "moral goodness" (in that it has yet to be proven to exist), but I absolutely endorse the search for "good" results of actions.  The difference is difficult to articulate, and I hope I've done it in this post.

It implies that nothing is better than anything else in any real sense - and hence it doesn't matter whether you appreciate reality or not. I don't think you really believe that, and so I think it's absurd to deny the ethics. What is ethical has nothing to do with what society or a culture thinks is right/wrong (except when it does). The difference seems to have arisen by assigning notions of "ethics" only to those views of ethics which rely on arbitrary characterisations, such as motive or popularity (I don't consider quality of experience to be arbitrary at all - indeed, it's the least arbitrary thing I can think of).

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Edit: also, for the purposes of this thread particularly, I've never understood the association between "moral goodness" and "suffering" or "joy".  The concept that it's morally good to halt suffering or spread joy seems wholly arbitrary, to me, based only on the fact that the majority of humans prefer joy to suffering.  It's a human thing, and yet morality is supposed to be above humanity in some way.

If we accept that what ultimately matters is how things are experienced, and then associate positive experience with joy, and negative experience with suffering, . Joy/suffering is not a human thing - it can apply to anything which is conscious (in the most general sense of the word).

Is there anything you can think of which is an even higher good than joy/suffering, and should be worked towards even if this meant permanently ceasing all joy for anyone?

Re: Procreation and morality
December 10, 2010, 11:25:50 AM
People in societies in which their acts of procreation are coerced, people with certain cognitive defects, people without sufficient education to realize what procreation entails, victims of sexual violation impregnated without adequate resources. Whether it goes without revealing there it is: all these people can be excused as too ignorant and/or helpless to morally choose whether to procreate.

For the rest of us, what does it mean to choose to procreate? Why, to impose life on another person, clearly. Often social pressures or norms and biological yens take the forefront of people choosing this peculiar activity. At most morality is considered in conditional terms, waiting to be developmentally, financially, in relationship before the desired result inevitably is attempted.

Is it taboo to suggest the question of if procreation is immoral? I wouldn't know since the words have never slipped out of my mouth and really can't think of an example hearing it besides that old comedian who said something like, 'every so many seconds a woman is with child - someone should stop her' but I'm wondering if I'm misconstruing the intended meaning since what I think is being suggested is completely foreign. Maybe it's just another way of saying life sucks, human race sucks, oh well it's what we live in rather than anything to do with procreation.

I think it is immoral. Life entails excruciating suffering at some points, and if you are one of the few ones this is not true for, it's very likely your early death caused sorrow for your family or else you have a rare disability causing your nervous system not to feel properly, and the effects of your defects will be a burden on those who bring you up. How can there even be a question among us that even risking imposing life on another is immoral?

Pain itself is intrinsically bad but can be extrinsically good. Excruciating suffering is bad bad bad stupid pointless!

You think about the wrong things too much. You are here for only one reason. To pass on your genetic material. Procreation is not immoral. It the ultimate end game of our existence. People who spend their whole life looking in religion or philosophy for the meaning of life are jokers. The first time my dick entered a pussy I had it nailed down.

This website needs more resources for Hessian parents who have no idea how to live respectably in happy meal culture. Less this stuff.