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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019) and AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021).

Friday, April 20, 2012

Procreation vs. Overpopulation (New Yorker article)

Something to chew on: philosophers/ethicists argue about whether we should have children (and if so, how many). H/T Jean Kazez.


Sheila Thompson said...

What do you think of the line;
'First of all, nonexistent people have no moral standing. (There are an infinite number of nonexistent people out there, and you don’t notice them complaining, do you?)'?

Do you agree with it? Does this mean we have no obligations to future generations?

March Hare said...

If we're going to give non-existent creatures any influence over our decision then who's going to speak up for the unicorns, the dragons or the gods?

Russell Blackford said...

I don't think we should recognise any obligation to bring nonexistent people into existence.

It's a separate question whether we recognise an obligation to make sure that whatever people do inevitably come into existence do so in environments where they probably won't be miserable.

March Hare said...

"...inevitably come into existence...

Inevitably? And do we have a number that will inevitably exist? A discount rate with which to measure their well-being against ours?

My view of this has always been that parents, and want to be parents, are so invested in their offspring, and their offspring's offspring, that our policies are already suitably weighted in their favour and this* problem is a non-problem.

In fact, if it were a real concern we'd be much more vocal and forceful about the terrible conditions the vast majority of actual children are born into today.

*miserable environment for future generations.