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The morality of Population growth control measures

ruby sparks

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So, I've been engaged in a lively debate elsewhere about how the topic of population relates to the wider issue of climate change.

As part of that, I came across the paper below, written by a philosopher (I believe).

Population Engineering and the Fight against Climate Change
https://www.npr.org/documents/2016/jun/population_engineering.pdf

And so I thought it might be interesting to discuss the topic in a philosophical (specifically moral) context.

The writer identifies a spectrum of measures:

Screen Shot 2018-10-24 at 16.57.45.png


A typical example of measures at the left side might be voluntary Family Planning policies such as promoting and increasing access to contraception and allowing/facilitating safer abortion, etc.

Allowing voluntary euthanasia (and even perhaps decriminalising suicide) might also figure, though some may feel these would belong further to the right.

Somewhere nearer the middle (but arguably still mostly on the left side) might be media (such as advertisements) promoting the benefits of having smaller families and the merits and social acceptability of remaining childless by choice. This could be called 'preference adjustment'. It could vary in strength. It could merely be about presenting unconsidered options or it could be more about persuasion and trying to change mindsets and culture and bring them up to date in light of non-evolved societal and global changes. It has been used in certain countries at certain times.

Somewhere near the middle might be natalist-neutral policies, which might involve not having pro-natalist policies such as blanket incentives (eg tax breaks) for having children. Many voluntarily childless people are highlighting this issue.

Moving right, we might have actual incentives (financial or otherwise) for not having children (or as they more usually have involved, not having more children).

On the right we might have forced sterilisation for example. Or laws against having children, for only having one child, or having more than one.

We could probably go even further right and include the option of culling.

So my questions are, where do posters, philosophically and morally, feel it is appropriate to draw the line, at this time. And could anyone ever envisage moving their line to the right if the situation ever became even more urgent than it already arguably is? And when if ever does the downside for humans (and perhaps all living things on the planet) generally start to outweigh the needs, concerns and rights of individual humans, or should the latter always have priority?

It could be said that the OP is in some ways hypothetical, as philosophy often is, but the last two questions are to some extent more hypothetical, since they might describe situations which might not arise, if, for example, other measures to counter climate change were to rapidly progress and this resulted in us at least mitigating the worst aspects of the disaster that may be ahead, or if the lower estimates of future world population come to pass.

I am obviously not intending to overstate the role of population. For the record, I do not believe it offers the main or only avenue for solutions. The greatest opportunity has to do with decreasing CO2 emissions, and although population plays a part in this (sometimes understated or at least under-researched, it seems to me lately*), ending a reliance on fossil fuels or other measures to reduce carbon footprints per capita would imo make a greater difference. Other measures may also be useful, such as ending or reducing deforestation, increasing reforestation, improving agricultural practices (eg promoting conservation tillage) and developing non-natural carbon sequestration.

Measures which indirectly affect population growth could also be relevant, including measures which might have population growth reduction as a side effect, bonus or byproduct.

I am also happy to have the survival of other animals and other living things included in a list of valid concerns, because morally, we don't necessarily need to be entirely anthropocentric.

Finally, in my opinion, it is relevant to not only consider global environmental catastrophe and survival of the (our) species, but also general issues which relate to quality of life.







* If correct, I am not sure why this might be the case. One factor may have to do with earlier forebodings about overpopulation not coming to pass having given population growth policies a bad name. Ditto for cases where such policies were misused. Fear of a slippery slope into misuse generally might play a valid part. Another (I'm guessing) might be that we, and especially those wielding economic power, might prefer the agenda to be about technological innovations (in a globally consumerist culture predicated on economic growth and short-termism, there may be perceived to be more incentives, and people these days do love technology). Nationalism may also impinge, which might involve individual governments not wanting to promote reductions in their own populations (this could include fears about immigration). Similarly for the traditional impulses of religions and other 'tribal' groupings. Also, it seems at least some consider human reproductive rights to trump almost anything else. As someone said, 'people want to have babies'.
 
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PyramidHead

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The paper raises many good points, thanks for posting it! In addition to the argument that procreation is a "tip of the iceberg" problem because the product of procreation may go on to procreate further, I will provide my usual refrain that we must not discount the reduction of harm accomplished by preventing the harm that would have befallen those we chose not to create. Even if other methods of dealing with climate change may yield better outcomes for the environment, it cannot be ignored that the population variable is unique in this way. In a scenario where population size is not controlled, even if we are successful in mitigating climate change to below the 2° specification we might still be worse off overall, as more sentient beings will exist to endure the hardships of reaching that goal, assuming it is ever reached. If it is not, we will have produced a generation of victims who did not need to be there to witness the aftermath of our failure to protect them. The article talks about the manipulation and coercion risks of preventing procreation, but fails to mention the inherent manipulation and coercion of bringing someone into existence so that they can be fodder for the climate change prevention effort, or if the problem cannot be solved, a hapless bystander in a world of chaos and unrest. These factors greatly add value to the prospect of population reduction in a way that cannot be said for other methods of mitigation, and in my view tilt the balance toward adopting policies like those mentioned in the article just as a precautionary measure. Even if they don't work, even if nothing works, we will have still lessened the scale of sentient suffering compared to leaving population alone.
 

ruby sparks

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Thanks. I hoped you would spot it and contribute. :)

Oh, I may have amended my OP while you were reading and/or replying. It's a terrible habit of mine.

Laters. Real work to do here........
 

ruby sparks

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The paper raises many good points, thanks for posting it! In addition to the argument that procreation is a "tip of the iceberg" problem because the product of procreation may go on to procreate further, I will provide my usual refrain that we must not discount the reduction of harm accomplished by preventing the harm that would have befallen those we chose not to create. Even if other methods of dealing with climate change may yield better outcomes for the environment, it cannot be ignored that the population variable is unique in this way. In a scenario where population size is not controlled, even if we are successful in mitigating climate change to below the 2° specification we might still be worse off overall, as more sentient beings will exist to endure the hardships of reaching that goal, assuming it is ever reached. If it is not, we will have produced a generation of victims who did not need to be there to witness the aftermath of our failure to protect them. The article talks about the manipulation and coercion risks of preventing procreation, but fails to mention the inherent manipulation and coercion of bringing someone into existence so that they can be fodder for the climate change prevention effort, or if the problem cannot be solved, a hapless bystander in a world of chaos and unrest. These factors greatly add value to the prospect of population reduction in a way that cannot be said for other methods of mitigation, and in my view tilt the balance toward adopting policies like those mentioned in the article just as a precautionary measure. Even if they don't work, even if nothing works, we will have still lessened the scale of sentient suffering compared to leaving population alone.

Well, again, as in previous threads which touch on this, I think you make a solid case on moral grounds. I'm not sure I can add anything other than my general agreement.

I take it that if someone has been born (or to put it another way, for those people who are born, rightly or wrongly) that you might then start to make distinctions on the spectrum suggested by the author?
 
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Bronzeage

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The fundamental problem of population control is that the incentives and disincentives which guide people's choices, have no effect on the people who create the population problem, who of course are people have yet to be conceived and be born.

It's usually a petulant adolescent complaint, "I didn't ask to be born!", but true, none the less. If we want to decrease the rate of population increase, legal suicide(boy, is that a dumb idea) and euthanasia won't put a dent in the statistics. After all, what's the point of killing someone who's time to consume resources is near the end, anyway. How much could you save?

The only practical way to control population growth, without cutting back on vaccines or turning off the tsunami warning systems, is to make life for the currently alive, conducive to having a minimal number of children and for many people, no children at all. The best way to do this may sound counter intuitive, but reducing infant mortality is a good start. The second step is to raise the standard of living, especially for people who now subsist off the land, which for millennia have depended upon large families, simply to have a ready labor supply. Reduce the need for labor and reduce the population.
 

Tigers!

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The fundamental problem of population control is that the incentives and disincentives which guide people's choices, have no effect on the people who create the population problem, who of course are people have yet to be conceived and be born.

It's usually a petulant adolescent complaint, "I didn't ask to be born!", but true, none the less. If we want to decrease the rate of population increase, legal suicide(boy, is that a dumb idea) and euthanasia won't put a dent in the statistics. After all, what's the point of killing someone who's time to consume resources is near the end, anyway. How much could you save?

The only practical way to control population growth, without cutting back on vaccines or turning off the tsunami warning systems, is to make life for the currently alive, conducive to having a minimal number of children and for many people, no children at all. The best way to do this may sound counter intuitive, but reducing infant mortality is a good start. The second step is to raise the standard of living, especially for people who now subsist off the land, which for millennia have depended upon large families, simply to have a ready labor supply. Reduce the need for labor and reduce the population.

Which historical is accurate.
It is well known that as the general affluence of a society increases and infant mortality is reduced teh number of children per couple deceases. The west still this without need for large scale abortion or the need for euthanasia.
 

Tigers!

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So, I've been engaged in a lively debate elsewhere about how the topic of population relates to the wider issue of climate change.

As part of that, I came across the paper below, written by a philosopher (I believe).

Population Engineering and the Fight against Climate Change
https://www.npr.org/documents/2016/jun/population_engineering.pdf

And so I thought it might be interesting to discuss the topic in a philosophical (specifically moral) context.

The writer identifies a spectrum of measures:

View attachment 18318


A typical example of measures at the left side might be voluntary Family Planning policies such as promoting and increasing access to contraception and allowing/facilitating safer abortion, etc.

Allowing voluntary euthanasia (and even perhaps decriminalising suicide) might also figure, though some may feel these would belong further to the right.

Somewhere nearer the middle (but arguably still mostly on the left side) might be media (such as advertisements) promoting the benefits of having smaller families and the merits and social acceptability of remaining childless by choice. This could be called 'preference adjustment'. It could vary in strength. It could merely be about presenting unconsidered options or it could be more about persuasion and trying to change mindsets and culture and bring them up to date in light of non-evolved societal and global changes. It has been used in certain countries at certain times.

Somewhere near the middle might be natalist-neutral policies, which might involve not having pro-natalist policies such as blanket incentives (eg tax breaks) for having children. Many voluntarily childless people are highlighting this issue.

Moving right, we might have actual incentives (financial or otherwise) for not having children (or as they more usually have involved, not having more children).

On the right we might have forced sterilisation for example. Or laws against having children, for only having one child, or having more than one.

We could probably go even further right and include the option of culling.

Regarding the picture - does the author state that moving to the left and right or right has any relationship to political thought i.e. China rigorously enforced a 1 child policy but they were 'left wing' politically.

Regarding culling - who chooses and what would be the criteria?
 

PyramidHead

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The paper raises many good points, thanks for posting it! In addition to the argument that procreation is a "tip of the iceberg" problem because the product of procreation may go on to procreate further, I will provide my usual refrain that we must not discount the reduction of harm accomplished by preventing the harm that would have befallen those we chose not to create. Even if other methods of dealing with climate change may yield better outcomes for the environment, it cannot be ignored that the population variable is unique in this way. In a scenario where population size is not controlled, even if we are successful in mitigating climate change to below the 2° specification we might still be worse off overall, as more sentient beings will exist to endure the hardships of reaching that goal, assuming it is ever reached. If it is not, we will have produced a generation of victims who did not need to be there to witness the aftermath of our failure to protect them. The article talks about the manipulation and coercion risks of preventing procreation, but fails to mention the inherent manipulation and coercion of bringing someone into existence so that they can be fodder for the climate change prevention effort, or if the problem cannot be solved, a hapless bystander in a world of chaos and unrest. These factors greatly add value to the prospect of population reduction in a way that cannot be said for other methods of mitigation, and in my view tilt the balance toward adopting policies like those mentioned in the article just as a precautionary measure. Even if they don't work, even if nothing works, we will have still lessened the scale of sentient suffering compared to leaving population alone.

Well, again, as in previous threads which touch on this, I think you make a solid case on moral grounds. I'm not sure I can add anything other than my general agreement.

I take it that if someone has been born (or to put it another way, for those people who are born, rightly or wrongly) that you might then start to make distinctions on the spectrum suggested by the author?

Sure, I'd say that's a good place to start. Well, to be accurate I guess the best place to start would be to lump everything on that spectrum into the bin of "various levels of moral transgression that may or may not serve our purposes as a society". I'm always happier to concede right off the bat that there are no moral options, at least none that come out unscathed all the way through. Somebody's getting their preferences stifled by the hand of the state one way or another, it's just a reality of large groups trying to solve urgent problems at the last minute. I would of course hope that the correct balance is struck, and I agree that the accusations of extremism are unwarranted when you think of what we already tolerate in our lives.

What I'm certainly not is a utilitarian, in that I don't believe we can justify any kind of behavior towards individuals or groups by offsetting it elsewhere (or else-when, in the case of preserving future generations) and make it acceptable. That is, while it may be true that we can prevent X amount of climate-related misery in the distant future by simply sterilizing the population against their wishes today, I'm not interested in weighing the numbers. Once you cross a certain threshold of just blatantly disrespecting other people, you've stepped into a realm of practical policy concerns and out of the moral world. I've never been good with policy ideas, so I can't really say which ones would work better in terms of empirical efficacy, and there is a whole dimension of culture and public opinion to take into account that I couldn't begin to predict.
 

PyramidHead

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The fundamental problem of population control is that the incentives and disincentives which guide people's choices, have no effect on the people who create the population problem, who of course are people have yet to be conceived and be born.

I'm sorry, in what way do as-yet-unborn people create the population problem? What act of theirs, that they could have avoided doing, creates the problem we're trying to solve? Merely existing?

That's a lot like saying gun control doesn't target what really creates the problem, which is the energy transferred from a bullet to flesh upon impact.
 

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I think it's delusional to think that having children is within our conscious control. I think we're remote controlled by our genes to have children, and our idea that it's within our conscious control is after the fact rationalisations.

I think people who are emotionally shut down for whatever traumatic reasons may have more of a conscious control over this. But these are not happy people, and shouldn't be a emotional state we wish to live in.

So I think the entire discussion is moot. We can only talk about morality regarding things we can control. This ain't it.
 

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I think it's delusional to think that having children is within our conscious control. I think we're remote controlled by our genes to have children, and our idea that it's within our conscious control is after the fact rationalisations.
There is actually no genetic compulsion to have children that has ever been identified. Nature just made sex pleasurable enough for us to want to do it, and for eons (until contraceptives became available) that was enough. Why should we have evolved anything like a specific desire for children when a simple physical urge for sex would have been enough? Wanting children, apart from just wanting sex, is 100% cultural.

I think people who are emotionally shut down for whatever traumatic reasons may have more of a conscious control over this. But these are not happy people, and shouldn't be a emotional state we wish to live in.
You actually don't know what you're talking about and the fact that you just typed that, read it over, and decided it was worth posting is shocking to me. Every feminist icon that has ever struggled against the social obligation to churn out babies is either rolling her eyes or rolling in her grave. You're taking a page out of a cultural playbook that should have been put back on the shelf a long time ago.
 

DrZoidberg

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I think it's delusional to think that having children is within our conscious control. I think we're remote controlled by our genes to have children, and our idea that it's within our conscious control is after the fact rationalisations.
There is actually no genetic compulsion to have children that has ever been identified. Nature just made sex pleasurable enough for us to want to do it, and for eons (until contraceptives became available) that was enough. Why should we have evolved anything like a specific desire for children when a simple physical urge for sex would have been enough? Wanting children, apart from just wanting sex, is 100% cultural.

The fact that none has been identified doesn't mean it isn't there. I'd turn it around, the idea that we aren't remote controlled to have children would be absurd. Since that's how nature works in every other species. We're not that special.

In every culture children are valued highly, and society bends over backwards to protect children and mothers. If it was cultural we'd see some sort of variation in this. But we don't. Things that are genetic tend to be stable across the globe.

I think people who are emotionally shut down for whatever traumatic reasons may have more of a conscious control over this. But these are not happy people, and shouldn't be a emotional state we wish to live in.
You actually don't know what you're talking about and the fact that you just typed that, read it over, and decided it was worth posting is shocking to me. Every feminist icon that has ever struggled against the social obligation to churn out babies is either rolling her eyes or rolling in her grave. You're taking a page out of a cultural playbook that should have been put back on the shelf a long time ago.

It's amusing how your complete lack of counter-arguments led you down this road of hyperbole and non-sequiturs. If reality is shocking to you... it can't be an easy life for you
 

PyramidHead

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The fact that none has been identified doesn't mean it isn't there. I'd turn it around, the idea that we aren't remote controlled to have children would be absurd. Since that's how nature works in every other species. We're not that special.
Genetic impulses aren't a good fit for abstract concepts. There are plenty of ways to nurture the young, get sexual satisfaction, and contribute to the future of the kin group (to use examples that might have imposed selection pressures) without specifically having biological offspring. So, it's hard for me to imagine why there would be a predisposition for specifically that, rather than some proxy like a natural protective impulse toward children, which would have been much easier to encode at the protein level through gradual mutations. A trait like "wanting to produce a new organism" contains a lot of conceptual nuance that I don't see much evidence for being under genetic control, especially when there are plausible other traits like sexual pleasure and care for children that would seemingly do the job. You mention other species as if it is confirmed that they all have the genetic impulse you're talking about, to produce more of themselves, when that's just a higher-level abstraction that we map onto what is a wholly biological phenomenon. If a chimp is provided with a sexual outlet and a young member of the species, unless it has a scent that specifically means stay away, it will go through all the same motions as it would have for a biological offspring of its own.

It also shouldn't need to be mentioned that little about society that we wish to preserve, enforce, or get more of flows naturally from the tendencies we share with other animals. Subjugating what we are pre-cognitively driven to want in favor of the wants and needs of others, even if itself rooted in some ancestral version of tribalism, is already something we accept as necessary to counterbalance the innate violence of our genetic temperament.

In every culture children are valued highly, and society bends over backwards to protect children and mothers. If it was cultural we'd see some sort of variation in this. But we don't. Things that are genetic tend to be stable across the globe.

From an article about the topic I encourage you to read:

The deep feelings of wanting to have a child have their roots in a learned desire from strong, long-standing social and cultural pronatal influences — not biological ones. And we’ve been influenced so strongly for so long that it just feels “innate.”

Early feminist Lena Hollingsworth gets to the heart of why it isn’t: If the “urge” was actually innate or instinctual, we would all feel it, she argues — and we don’t. If it were instinctive, there would have been no need to introduce social messaging to encourage and influence reproduction. If it were instinctive, there would be no need for social and cultural pressures to have children.

Your explanation for why some people don't feel the urge to procreate at all is that they are emotionally damaged. Do you know any people who don't have children? Are literally every one of them suffering from some past trauma that caused them to become "emotionally shut down"? What if they claim to be happy, fulfilled people with lives they enjoy... are they lying? Deluding themselves? Who are you to say?

It's amusing how your complete lack of counter-arguments led you down this road of hyperbole and non-sequiturs. If reality is shocking to you... it can't be an easy life for you
It's not an easy life for anybody, but at least I take people seriously when they say no-thank-you to creating a new life that will be subjected to that same unease. Whether you agree with the sentiment or not, it's born out of empathy, and not emotional blankness. I mean... I ask again, do all of the non-trauma-afflicted people in your life have children, really?
 

ruby sparks

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Regarding the picture - does the author state that moving to the left and right or right has any relationship to political thought i.e. China rigorously enforced a 1 child policy but they were 'left wing' politically.

No I don't think the left and right are that sort of left and right.

Regarding culling - who chooses and what would be the criteria?

That's almost too hypothetical to answer.
 
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ruby sparks

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The paper raises many good points, thanks for posting it! In addition to the argument that procreation is a "tip of the iceberg" problem because the product of procreation may go on to procreate further, I will provide my usual refrain that we must not discount the reduction of harm accomplished by preventing the harm that would have befallen those we chose not to create. Even if other methods of dealing with climate change may yield better outcomes for the environment, it cannot be ignored that the population variable is unique in this way. In a scenario where population size is not controlled, even if we are successful in mitigating climate change to below the 2° specification we might still be worse off overall, as more sentient beings will exist to endure the hardships of reaching that goal, assuming it is ever reached. If it is not, we will have produced a generation of victims who did not need to be there to witness the aftermath of our failure to protect them. The article talks about the manipulation and coercion risks of preventing procreation, but fails to mention the inherent manipulation and coercion of bringing someone into existence so that they can be fodder for the climate change prevention effort, or if the problem cannot be solved, a hapless bystander in a world of chaos and unrest. These factors greatly add value to the prospect of population reduction in a way that cannot be said for other methods of mitigation, and in my view tilt the balance toward adopting policies like those mentioned in the article just as a precautionary measure. Even if they don't work, even if nothing works, we will have still lessened the scale of sentient suffering compared to leaving population alone.

Well, again, as in previous threads which touch on this, I think you make a solid case on moral grounds. I'm not sure I can add anything other than my general agreement.

I take it that if someone has been born (or to put it another way, for those people who are born, rightly or wrongly) that you might then start to make distinctions on the spectrum suggested by the author?

Sure, I'd say that's a good place to start. Well, to be accurate I guess the best place to start would be to lump everything on that spectrum into the bin of "various levels of moral transgression that may or may not serve our purposes as a society". I'm always happier to concede right off the bat that there are no moral options, at least none that come out unscathed all the way through. Somebody's getting their preferences stifled by the hand of the state one way or another, it's just a reality of large groups trying to solve urgent problems at the last minute. I would of course hope that the correct balance is struck, and I agree that the accusations of extremism are unwarranted when you think of what we already tolerate in our lives.

What I'm certainly not is a utilitarian, in that I don't believe we can justify any kind of behavior towards individuals or groups by offsetting it elsewhere (or else-when, in the case of preserving future generations) and make it acceptable. That is, while it may be true that we can prevent X amount of climate-related misery in the distant future by simply sterilizing the population against their wishes today, I'm not interested in weighing the numbers. Once you cross a certain threshold of just blatantly disrespecting other people, you've stepped into a realm of practical policy concerns and out of the moral world. I've never been good with policy ideas, so I can't really say which ones would work better in terms of empirical efficacy, and there is a whole dimension of culture and public opinion to take into account that I couldn't begin to predict.

Thanks.

My guess is that most people would prefer to stick to the left hand side of the spectrum. But they might move to the right (to varying extents) if they believed the level of urgency was increasing or the consequences of not moving to the right were perceived to be (or likely to be) dire.

Of course, things are arguably already urgent, and may have been for almost 50 years, and we may be underestimating the level of urgency. We could be the frogs being boiled so slowly in the proverbial saucepan that we don't try to jump until it's too late.

Or, things might be ok. :)

When I say 'move to the right' I mean that their moral standpoint, or limit, might be subject to change.
 

ruby sparks

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I think it's delusional to think that having children is within our conscious control. I think we're remote controlled by our genes to have children, and our idea that it's within our conscious control is after the fact rationalisations.

I think people who are emotionally shut down for whatever traumatic reasons may have more of a conscious control over this. But these are not happy people, and shouldn't be a emotional state we wish to live in.

So I think the entire discussion is moot. We can only talk about morality regarding things we can control. This ain't it.

There would be no one choosing not to have children if that were the case. In fact, there might be no one stopping after just one.

I think you might have thought that one through better, to be honest.

In fact...

Ha. You're kidding. Lol. It took me a while to realise. Good one.
 

DrZoidberg

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Genetic impulses aren't a good fit for abstract concepts. There are plenty of ways to nurture the young, get sexual satisfaction, and contribute to the future of the kin group (to use examples that might have imposed selection pressures) without specifically having biological offspring. So, it's hard for me to imagine why there would be a predisposition for specifically that, rather than some proxy like a natural protective impulse toward children, which would have been much easier to encode at the protein level through gradual mutations. A trait like "wanting to produce a new organism" contains a lot of conceptual nuance that I don't see much evidence for being under genetic control, especially when there are plausible other traits like sexual pleasure and care for children that would seemingly do the job. You mention other species as if it is confirmed that they all have the genetic impulse you're talking about, to produce more of themselves, when that's just a higher-level abstraction that we map onto what is a wholly biological phenomenon. If a chimp is provided with a sexual outlet and a young member of the species, unless it has a scent that specifically means stay away, it will go through all the same motions as it would have for a biological offspring of its own.

It also shouldn't need to be mentioned that little about society that we wish to preserve, enforce, or get more of flows naturally from the tendencies we share with other animals. Subjugating what we are pre-cognitively driven to want in favor of the wants and needs of others, even if itself rooted in some ancestral version of tribalism, is already something we accept as necessary to counterbalance the innate violence of our genetic temperament.

Nothing abstract about it. Just looking at children would make any human happy. It could be something as simple as just liking the smell of your own child. Children, while children, are literally worthless. They're nothing but a drag on resources. But still make us happy. The same impulse is co-opted by cats and dogs, which explains why we like having them around. Most people who have one tattoo wants more. People tend to be the same about kids. Yet, do a lot of complaining about how draining it is.

BTW, there's no studies that show that humans with children are overall happier than humans without children are. It's rather the opposite. Yet, people with children self report being way happier than people without children. So there's something psychologically weird going on.

There's a story of how a certain beetle in Australia had dropping numbers in an area and this was investigated. It turned out that the male beetles were attracted to a certain type of brown colour, curviness and sheen. The local beer bottles had this, so out-competed the females for attraction. Humans are obviously the same. We're programmed to be attracted to certain things, and when they're triggered they're set off. There's nothing abstract about it.

Most couples have children within the first two years of relationship. Everybody understands it would be smarter to wait. During a war child births go up. Yet, we all understand that a war zone is not an ideal place to raise a child. No, it can't be explained with rape. Especially women want children more during war. It's j

From an article about the topic I encourage you to read:

Too superficial to be meaningful.

The deep feelings of wanting to have a child have their roots in a learned desire from strong, long-standing social and cultural pronatal influences — not biological ones. And we’ve been influenced so strongly for so long that it just feels “innate.”

Pure assertion. You have no reason to be this confident.

Early feminist Lena Hollingsworth gets to the heart of why it isn’t: If the “urge” was actually innate or instinctual, we would all feel it, she argues — and we don’t. If it were instinctive, there would have been no need to introduce social messaging to encourage and influence reproduction. If it were instinctive, there would be no need for social and cultural pressures to have children.

It's a false deduction. There's no reason to think we'd be conscious of a sub-conscious drive. That's what sub-consciousness drives mean. On the other hand, our consciousness is arguably a function to provide coherent and rational stories for the stuff our sub-conscious gets up to. We know this from witness psychology and a bunch of scientific studies. We see patterns where there are none.

Your explanation for why some people don't feel the urge to procreate at all is that they are emotionally damaged. Do you know any people who don't have children? Are literally every one of them suffering from some past trauma that caused them to become "emotionally shut down"? What if they claim to be happy, fulfilled people with lives they enjoy... are they lying? Deluding themselves? Who are you to say?

Not emotionally damaged. That assumes there exists healthy humans. We're all a little nuts. So that's out.

I don't have children. But my life hasn't been easy. Most of my life I've had to put my emotional needs aside just because there was shit that needed to get done. I've been the emotional pillar others have leaned against. I've trained myself in dialing down my emotional needs, because I just didn't have time for them. It's overly simplistic... because even people who dial down their emotions are still ruled by emotions... just other emotions. But for simplicity... I'll call it that.

Being emotionally controlled is not a nice place to be. Life begins when we learn to let go of control. People who are are emotionally open and are good at making themselves vulnerable, also tend to want to have children. My experience. These are also people who it's the most fun to be around.
 

Bomb#20

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Regarding culling - who chooses and what would be the criteria?

The revolution is successful, but survival depends on drastic measures. Your continued existence represents a threat to the well-being of society. Your lives mean slow death to the more valued members of the colony. Therefore I have no alternative but to sentence you to death. Your execution is so ordered.

- Kodos the Executioner​
 

Tigers!

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Regarding culling - who chooses and what would be the criteria?

The revolution is successful, but survival depends on drastic measures. Your continued existence represents a threat to the well-being of society. Your lives mean slow death to the more valued members of the colony. Therefore I have no alternative but to sentence you to death. Your execution is so ordered.

- Kodos the Executioner​
Thank you.

I await my sentence with great joy and satisfaction.
:dancing::huggs::cheer:
 

bilby

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Population growth control measures are all either immoral; or are morally justified by benefits unrelated to population.

As I posted in the related thread in the Natural Science forum:

Population IS the 'real human world'. It's the thing we are trying to sustain.

Every single medical problem you have ever had is due to your being alive. If you were not alive, none of those problems would exist. Therefore, the solution to your medical issues is to stop living.

That's (I hope obviously) a stupid argument; so how is it different from:

Every single environmental problem we have ever had is due to our population. If we did not have a population, none of those problems would exist. Therefore, the solution to our environmental issues is to reduce population.

Solutions that cause more harm than the problems they are intended to address are NOT viable solutions. They are not even SANE solutions.

Population control is insane. It's a non-solution to a non-problem.

The ONLY population control measure that I would support is for all the people who are worried about population levels to remove themselves from the population.

All the other measures that have any impact on population do so as a side effect of something that is worthwhile in its own right - education, improved life expectancy and lower child mortality, reproductive freedom, etc; Or that are clearly and unequivocally immoral - forced sterilization, genocide, war, famine, etc.

It is therefore both needless and dangerous to discuss population as a 'problem'.

It is exactly as worthwhile and sensible a discussion to have as were the learned discussions in the 1930s regarding the Jewish Problem. 'Population' is a red flag that says "dangerously inhumane ideas ahead". For every academic toying with the idea of establishing a nice homeland for the Jews in Madagascar, there are a dozen blackshirts who see the learned consideration of the 'problem' as justification for gas chambers.

Numbers are, perhaps, "relevant" (for a given value of "relevant") but cannot be addressed humanely. Other causes of environmental problems are able to be addressed humanely, and for EVERY problem, there is such a solution.

IOW, for the sake of humanity, we need to shut the fuck up about population, and start dealing with the actual problems in the environment. THAT is by FAR the best solution to the 'population problem'.

So never mind whether this or that measure to control population growth is immoral - the very idea that we should employ any measure for the purpose of controlling population growth is itself immoral.
 
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DrZoidberg

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I think it's delusional to think that having children is within our conscious control. I think we're remote controlled by our genes to have children, and our idea that it's within our conscious control is after the fact rationalisations.

I think people who are emotionally shut down for whatever traumatic reasons may have more of a conscious control over this. But these are not happy people, and shouldn't be a emotional state we wish to live in.

So I think the entire discussion is moot. We can only talk about morality regarding things we can control. This ain't it.

There would be no one choosing not to have children if that were the case. In fact, there might be no one stopping after just one.

I think you might have thought that one through better, to be honest.

In fact...

Ha. You're kidding. Lol. It took me a while to realise. Good one.

I'm really not kidding. I think people who decide not to have children aren't. Well.. they are. But it's a purely emotionally driven decision process. It's not a rational decision. I think the reasons people give for not having children never make sense. They're all bizarre. As you'll realise if you dig a bit. That's my impression.

BTW, I did not come up with this on my own. I had the same opinion as you and mentioned it to some people at a party I was schooled. I looked it up, and it's solid. Just read up on contemporary studies on consciousness. I recommend Susan Blackmore's book on it.

https://www.amazon.com/Consciousness-Short-Introduction-Susan-Blackmore/dp/0192805851

Thomas Metzinger's The Ego Tunnel is also good. Your consciousness is not making the decisions, and if that's true, then the reason somebody gives for not having children is always bullshit.
 

fromderinside

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Population growth control measures are all either immoral; or are morally justified by benefits unrelated to population.

As I posted in the related thread in the Natural Science forum:

Population IS the 'real human world'. It's the thing we are trying to sustain.

Every single medical problem you have ever had is due to your being alive. If you were not alive, none of those problems would exist. Therefore, the solution to your medical issues is to stop living.

That's (I hope obviously) a stupid argument; so how is it different from:

Every single environmental problem we have ever had is due to our population. If we did not have a population, none of those problems would exist. Therefore, the solution to our environmental issues is to reduce population.

Solutions that cause more harm than the problems they are intended to address are NOT viable solutions. They are not even SANE solutions.

Population control is insane. It's a non-solution to a non-problem.

The ONLY population control measure that I would support is for all the people who are worried about population levels to remove themselves from the population.

All the other measures that have any impact on population do so as a side effect of something that is worthwhile in its own right - education, improved life expectancy and lower child mortality, reproductive freedom, etc; Or that are clearly and unequivocally immoral - forced sterilization, genocide, war, famine, etc.

It is therefore both needless and dangerous to discuss population as a 'problem'.

It is exactly as worthwhile and sensible a discussion to have as were the learned discussions in the 1930s regarding the Jewish Problem. 'Population' is a red flag that says "dangerously inhumane ideas ahead". For every academic toying with the idea of establishing a nice homeland for the Jews in Madagascar, there are a dozen blackshirts who see the learned consideration of the 'problem' as justification for gas chambers.

Numbers are, perhaps, "relevant" (for a given value of "relevant") but cannot be addressed humanely. Other causes of environmental problems are able to be addressed humanely, and for EVERY problem, there is such a solution.

IOW, for the sake of humanity, we need to shut the fuck up about population, and start dealing with the actual problems in the environment. THAT is by FAR the best solution to the 'population problem'.

So never mind whether this or that measure to control population growth is immoral - the very idea that we should employ any measure for the purpose of controlling population growth is itself immoral.


According to AI Bartlett Population is not sustainable He thinks it is a bit like a speed limit on organisms.

Laws, hypotheses, observations and predictions relating to sustainability https://www.albartlett.org/articles/art_reflections_part_5.html

If that is so your concluding statement is False.

Enjoy
 

PyramidHead

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Population growth control measures are all either immoral; or are morally justified by benefits unrelated to population.

As I posted in the related thread in the Natural Science forum:

Population IS the 'real human world'. It's the thing we are trying to sustain.

Every single medical problem you have ever had is due to your being alive. If you were not alive, none of those problems would exist. Therefore, the solution to your medical issues is to stop living.

That's (I hope obviously) a stupid argument; so how is it different from:

Every single environmental problem we have ever had is due to our population. If we did not have a population, none of those problems would exist. Therefore, the solution to our environmental issues is to reduce population.

Solutions that cause more harm than the problems they are intended to address are NOT viable solutions. They are not even SANE solutions.

Population control is insane. It's a non-solution to a non-problem.

The ONLY population control measure that I would support is for all the people who are worried about population levels to remove themselves from the population.

All the other measures that have any impact on population do so as a side effect of something that is worthwhile in its own right - education, improved life expectancy and lower child mortality, reproductive freedom, etc; Or that are clearly and unequivocally immoral - forced sterilization, genocide, war, famine, etc.

It is therefore both needless and dangerous to discuss population as a 'problem'.

It is exactly as worthwhile and sensible a discussion to have as were the learned discussions in the 1930s regarding the Jewish Problem. 'Population' is a red flag that says "dangerously inhumane ideas ahead". For every academic toying with the idea of establishing a nice homeland for the Jews in Madagascar, there are a dozen blackshirts who see the learned consideration of the 'problem' as justification for gas chambers.

Numbers are, perhaps, "relevant" (for a given value of "relevant") but cannot be addressed humanely. Other causes of environmental problems are able to be addressed humanely, and for EVERY problem, there is such a solution.

IOW, for the sake of humanity, we need to shut the fuck up about population, and start dealing with the actual problems in the environment. THAT is by FAR the best solution to the 'population problem'.

So never mind whether this or that measure to control population growth is immoral - the very idea that we should employ any measure for the purpose of controlling population growth is itself immoral.

It wasn't convincing then and it isn't convincing now, bilby. You conflate two things: reducing population through not generating it in the first place (via measures such as those proposed in the OP article) and reducing it through widespread massacre. It's a rhetorical trick worthy of the most alarmist right-wing critic of socialized health care, and you don't disappoint with your dutiful inclusion of the Nazi example. The flaw in your moral reasoning is right here:

Population IS the 'real human world'. It's the thing we are trying to sustain.

Every single medical problem you have ever had is due to your being alive. If you were not alive, none of those problems would exist. Therefore, the solution to your medical issues is to stop living.

That's (I hope obviously) a stupid argument; so how is it different from:

Every single environmental problem we have ever had is due to our population. If we did not have a population, none of those problems would exist. Therefore, the solution to our environmental issues is to reduce population.

Solutions that cause more harm than the problems they are intended to address are NOT viable solutions. They are not even SANE solutions.

Population control is insane. It's a non-solution to a non-problem.

Moral concerns are concerns about the well-being and suffering of fellow sentient beings. They are not concerns about the future existence of more beings whom we can then expect to be morally concerned about. So, when you frame the central issue as one of trying to sustain the human population, you fail to realize that this is just a proxy for the actual moral issue of limiting the pain, injustice, and hardship that we cause to future generations through any action or inaction of ours, including our failure to prevent them being here to endure those harms. As the saying goes, it is more important to make people happy than to make happy people, because failing to make people happy results in the existence of unhappy people while failing to make happy people from scratch does not. So, your attempt at a reductio argument fails, because there is nothing absurd about reducing the number of people who will be forced, without their consent (as none is possible) to deal with the problem we are bound to leave for them.

I'll even take it to an extreme, and have you explain to me what the moral problem would be if there was no more human population at all due to the cessation of reproduction. This is a thought experiment, so I'm allowed to stipulate that the cessation was wholly voluntary on the part of each individual human. They simply lived the rest of their lives as they normally would have, except without offspring, and then died--also assume some artificial mechanism to care for the last remaining elderly people. This is a completely unlikely, abstract scenario that will never happen, but I invoke it because you presaged the idea in italics. So, I ask you: who would be harmed in this fictional example, and in what way would the environmental problem not be solved? Of course, the only honest answer is that nobody would be harmed and the environmental problem would be permanently solved.

Therefore, whatever your disagreement is, it isn't with the claim that a problem can be solved by depriving it of its victims. In practice, you worry that the implementation of such a strategy would be disastrous, and you're right, which is why nobody is suggesting that we attempt to convince every living human to abstain from reproduction. But your framing of the issue as a principled objection to population control per se on the grounds that it is harmful no matter what because it lessens what we are 'trying to sustain' is at odds with morality.

It's a common error in reasoning to eliminate as immoral or insane, either consciously or not, any courses of action that limit the spread of human life in the future. As if every moral choice we make is guaranteed full compatibility with the multiplication of our genes, without any preceding analysis for why this impulse should be shielded from all evaluation when so many others are subsumed. For that matter, it strikes me as morally lazy to simply conclude that all moral activity should be 'viable'. Is it not often the most difficult choices, requiring the deepest sacrifices, that characterize truly moral actions? There is the question of whether or not some action is viable and the question of whether or not it is moral, but they are not the same question. You may be right that widespread population control is not viable, but without linking this non-viability to morality, it seems rational to simply conclude that in this situation, the moral course of action is not viable for whatever reason. None of this watering down of morality and compromising with the extrinsic goals of human proliferation and convencience. That might work in politics and rhetoric, but in a philosophical context we should be honest and forthright about what is actually taking place.
 

ruby sparks

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I think it's delusional to think that having children is within our conscious control. I think we're remote controlled by our genes to have children, and our idea that it's within our conscious control is after the fact rationalisations.

I think people who are emotionally shut down for whatever traumatic reasons may have more of a conscious control over this. But these are not happy people, and shouldn't be a emotional state we wish to live in.

So I think the entire discussion is moot. We can only talk about morality regarding things we can control. This ain't it.

There would be no one choosing not to have children if that were the case. In fact, there might be no one stopping after just one.

I think you might have thought that one through better, to be honest.

In fact...

Ha. You're kidding. Lol. It took me a while to realise. Good one.

I'm really not kidding. I think people who decide not to have children aren't. Well.. they are. But it's a purely emotionally driven decision process. It's not a rational decision. I think the reasons people give for not having children never make sense. They're all bizarre. As you'll realise if you dig a bit. That's my impression.

BTW, I did not come up with this on my own. I had the same opinion as you and mentioned it to some people at a party I was schooled. I looked it up, and it's solid. Just read up on contemporary studies on consciousness. I recommend Susan Blackmore's book on it.

https://www.amazon.com/Consciousness-Short-Introduction-Susan-Blackmore/dp/0192805851

Thomas Metzinger's The Ego Tunnel is also good. Your consciousness is not making the decisions, and if that's true, then the reason somebody gives for not having children is always bullshit.

In strict free will terms, I agree, because I don't believe in free will.

But you went further than that, citing in particular unhappy people, trauma and emotional shutdown.

These are not necessarily accurate terms to describe that subset of 'ultimately unfree' people who choose (ultimately unfreely imo) not to have children, and that was what I was querying.
 

DrZoidberg

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In strict free will terms, I agree, because I don't believe in free will.

I both believe and don't believe in free will at the same time, because every term and dimension in the free will debate is on wheels. I think the entire debate is nonsense.

But you went further than that, citing unhappy people, trauma and emotional shutdown.

These are not necessarily accurate terms to describe people who choose not to have children and that was what I was querying.

Because that's what I think is going on. For simplicities sake, let's call it humanness. When a person feels loved, supported, validated and safe they'll go inward more and just do what is in their hearts desire... fuck the consequences. This is what Freud called the ID. This is counterbalanced by everything in our society saying "no, you can't". Everything from social rules, as well as psychological dysfunction. Freud's super ego. An unrestricted ID will do little else but squeeze out kids.

My experience is that people who are open, sensitive and playful have a lot of children, because these traits are all connected. They're all behaviours that happens when we feel validated and safe. The women I know who have the most kids are all very artistically inclined people. They're people who are "in touch with themselves" for want of a better term. When they listen inwards they are confident enough to follow what comes out. The men I know who have a lot of kids are all extremely stable people. They're so stable, one might call them boring.

I'm aware that I might be over-generalising. But this is just my impression of what is going on. But I do think that people who "chose" not to have kids are in some way broken. And that's down to simple deduction. Your entire genome exists because it's good at doing one thing and one thing only, to spread it's genes. If it doesn't, then it's not working.

I'm not saying that having children is the meaning of life, or that people should have children... or even that people with children are happier. I'm also not saying that being normal is desirable. Or that if you don't want to have children something is wrong with you, in a wider sense. But you are half of a baby making machine. We all are. If we're not doing that the machine isn't doing what it's designed for. Why would nature program in choice? It makes no sense.
 

ruby sparks

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But I do think that people who "chose" not to have kids are in some way broken. And that's down to simple deduction. Your entire genome exists because it's good at doing one thing and one thing only, to spread it's genes. If it doesn't, then it's not working.

I'm not saying that having children is the meaning of life, or that people should have children... or even that people with children are happier. I'm also not saying that being normal is desirable. Or that if you don't want to have children something is wrong with you, in a wider sense. But you are half of a baby making machine. We all are. If we're not doing that the machine isn't doing what it's designed for. Why would nature program in choice? It makes no sense.

Especially in a thread on morality, I think your use of the word 'wrong' is questionable.

Other than that, I accept that you're just expressing your opinion and that you are generalising.

I still wouldn't agree. Especially nowadays. Even if we don't have free will, we can still make conscious choices and are not at the mercy of evolved traits and impulses to the same extent other animals are. No we are not as you put it 'controlled by our genes'. That's just incorrect, on every level, even without free will.

Many people, especially nowadays, are freeing themselves by choosing not to have children (or to have fewer children) for conscious reasons and personal preferences, and in some cases that will include not wanting to add to the burden on the planet.
 

PyramidHead

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In strict free will terms, I agree, because I don't believe in free will.

I both believe and don't believe in free will at the same time, because every term and dimension in the free will debate is on wheels. I think the entire debate is nonsense.

But you went further than that, citing unhappy people, trauma and emotional shutdown.

These are not necessarily accurate terms to describe people who choose not to have children and that was what I was querying.

Because that's what I think is going on. For simplicities sake, let's call it humanness. When a person feels loved, supported, validated and safe they'll go inward more and just do what is in their hearts desire... fuck the consequences. This is what Freud called the ID. This is counterbalanced by everything in our society saying "no, you can't". Everything from social rules, as well as psychological dysfunction. Freud's super ego. An unrestricted ID will do little else but squeeze out kids.

My experience is that people who are open, sensitive and playful have a lot of children, because these traits are all connected. They're all behaviours that happens when we feel validated and safe. The women I know who have the most kids are all very artistically inclined people. They're people who are "in touch with themselves" for want of a better term. When they listen inwards they are confident enough to follow what comes out. The men I know who have a lot of kids are all extremely stable people. They're so stable, one might call them boring.

I'm aware that I might be over-generalising. But this is just my impression of what is going on. But I do think that people who "chose" not to have kids are in some way broken. And that's down to simple deduction. Your entire genome exists because it's good at doing one thing and one thing only, to spread it's genes. If it doesn't, then it's not working.

I'm not saying that having children is the meaning of life, or that people should have children... or even that people with children are happier. I'm also not saying that being normal is desirable. Or that if you don't want to have children something is wrong with you, in a wider sense. But you are half of a baby making machine. We all are. If we're not doing that the machine isn't doing what it's designed for. Why would nature program in choice? It makes no sense.

My interpretation of all that is to compare it to other urges nature has given us. People who don't violently subjugate their competitors for resources and mates are broken in the same sense as those who choose not to procreate. Going against a genetic impulse for moral reasons is not irrational, as we have no reason to expect our genes to align in their priorities with moral obligations... and many examples of the reverse. So, while it may be the case that a correlation exists between people with certain emotional proclivities and people who have children (which I would speculate is completely a cultural phenomenon and perhaps an effect of the lavish rewards society bestows upon parents for simply being parents), that says nothing about our ability to nonetheless opt out of pursuing that kind of emotional fulfillment, nor about to what extent we should be willing to do so. In other words, the moral course of action might be, as it so often is, to treat my interest in being happy or emotionally fulfilled as secondary to an ethical duty. The degree to which the behavior I'm trying to avoid is "natural" or not only matters as a description of how big of an obstacle I have to overcome.
 

DrZoidberg

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I still wouldn't agree. Especially nowadays. Even if we don't have free will, we can still make conscious choices and are not at the mercy of evolved traits and impulses to the same extent other animals are. No we are not as you put it 'controlled by our genes'. That's just incorrect, on every level, even without free will.

Your consciousness isn't making any of your decisions. That's not what the consciousness is for. There is still some debate regarding what the consciousness is for, but it's not for making decisions.

Claiming that you are not "at the mercy of evolved traits and impulses to the same extent other animals are" is laughably arrogant. Of course you are. They're just expressing themselves differently. And since we like to think of ourselves as special, we see this specialness as us having more freedom. But we don't. Obviously.

But we are self-reflexive. Which allows for meta-thinking. This is probably unique to humans. But we're still just as much at the mercy of evolved traits and impulses as every other animals. We can just obey those impulses more cleverly. You still have no option to not obey.

Many people, especially nowadays, are freeing themselves by choosing not to have children (or to have fewer children) for conscious reasons and personal preferences, and in some cases that will include not wanting to add to the burden on the planet.

Absolute nonsense. After the fact justifications. And we know this for a fact. It's down to statistical analysis.

When it comes to "choosing" when to have children humans have two genetically preprogrammed behaviours. High investment or low investement. If you're able to fill your caloric requirement every day, nature will see to it that you have few children, and you will love them a lot and give them lots of attention. If you have problem feeding yourself sometimes you will seize every window of plenty to have more children.

This is well supported by the research today.

We're not evolutionarily adapted to never starve. Nor have access to extreme high-calory foods, like sugar. So we're probably fucking with this genetically programmed mechanism. The extreme caloric access probably shifts up our demands for a suitable mate. So we'll perhaps only consider having children with somebody unrealistically perfect.

You're just choosing to interpret the shift from the first system to the second system as you making a choice. I'm sorry, but that's delusional. Of course there's no choice going on.

I'd say the onus is on whoever thinks it's a choice to come up with a convincing evolutionary mechanic for it to happen. Until then, I'm not buying it.

Your consciousness will create the illusion that you took your decisions for rational reasons. All your decisions. This is probably because your consciousness is part of the speech/communication centre and our intelligence has, probably, evolved in order to make us good liars. Lies are more convincing if you believe your own lies, and aren't even aware of that you're lying. It also speeds up communication if your consciousness creates a simplified model for how you reached your decisions. The actual workings of your decision-making process, is probably messy and complicated to express... and not interesting. So your consciousness simplifies it to that it's what you decided with your free will.
 

ruby sparks

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I still wouldn't agree. Especially nowadays. Even if we don't have free will, we can still make conscious choices and are not at the mercy of evolved traits and impulses to the same extent other animals are. No we are not as you put it 'controlled by our genes'. That's just incorrect, on every level, even without free will.

Your consciousness isn't making any of your decisions. That's not what the consciousness is for. There is still some debate regarding what the consciousness is for, but it's not for making decisions.

Claiming that you are not "at the mercy of evolved traits and impulses to the same extent other animals are" is laughably arrogant. Of course you are. They're just expressing themselves differently. And since we like to think of ourselves as special, we see this specialness as us having more freedom. But we don't. Obviously.

But we are self-reflexive. Which allows for meta-thinking. This is probably unique to humans. But we're still just as much at the mercy of evolved traits and impulses as every other animals. We can just obey those impulses more cleverly. You still have no option to not obey.

Many people, especially nowadays, are freeing themselves by choosing not to have children (or to have fewer children) for conscious reasons and personal preferences, and in some cases that will include not wanting to add to the burden on the planet.

Absolute nonsense. After the fact justifications. And we know this for a fact. It's down to statistical analysis.

When it comes to "choosing" when to have children humans have two genetically preprogrammed behaviours. High investment or low investement. If you're able to fill your caloric requirement every day, nature will see to it that you have few children, and you will love them a lot and give them lots of attention. If you have problem feeding yourself sometimes you will seize every window of plenty to have more children.

This is well supported by the research today.

We're not evolutionarily adapted to never starve. Nor have access to extreme high-calory foods, like sugar. So we're probably fucking with this genetically programmed mechanism. The extreme caloric access probably shifts up our demands for a suitable mate. So we'll perhaps only consider having children with somebody unrealistically perfect.

You're just choosing to interpret the shift from the first system to the second system as you making a choice. I'm sorry, but that's delusional. Of course there's no choice going on.

I'd say the onus is on whoever thinks it's a choice to come up with a convincing evolutionary mechanic for it to happen. Until then, I'm not buying it.

Your consciousness will create the illusion that you took your decisions for rational reasons. All your decisions. This is probably because your consciousness is part of the speech/communication centre and our intelligence has, probably, evolved in order to make us good liars. Lies are more convincing if you believe your own lies, and aren't even aware of that you're lying. It also speeds up communication if your consciousness creates a simplified model for how you reached your decisions. The actual workings of your decision-making process, is probably messy and complicated to express... and not interesting. So your consciousness simplifies it to that it's what you decided with your free will.

All well and good, and free will is arguably slightly off the main topic, but if all you say above is the case (and I'm not necessarily saying it is because it is not the case that we are controlled by our genes for example), then how come, according to you, "people who are emotionally shut down for whatever traumatic reasons may have more of a conscious control over this"?

Because that's why I replied to you in the first place.

Also, what is 'remote control' by genes?

And what's this: "We can only talk about morality regarding things we can control". What things are those then, in light of all you just said?
 

Bronzeage

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The fundamental problem of population control is that the incentives and disincentives which guide people's choices, have no effect on the people who create the population problem, who of course are people have yet to be conceived and be born.

I'm sorry, in what way do as-yet-unborn people create the population problem? What act of theirs, that they could have avoided doing, creates the problem we're trying to solve? Merely existing?

That's a lot like saying gun control doesn't target what really creates the problem, which is the energy transferred from a bullet to flesh upon impact.

Without putting too fine a point on it, each person born, increases the population by one. There is nothing one can take to avoid being born, which is part of the problem.
 

PyramidHead

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The fundamental problem of population control is that the incentives and disincentives which guide people's choices, have no effect on the people who create the population problem, who of course are people have yet to be conceived and be born.

I'm sorry, in what way do as-yet-unborn people create the population problem? What act of theirs, that they could have avoided doing, creates the problem we're trying to solve? Merely existing?

That's a lot like saying gun control doesn't target what really creates the problem, which is the energy transferred from a bullet to flesh upon impact.

Without putting too fine a point on it, each person born, increases the population by one. There is nothing one can take to avoid being born, which is part of the problem.

But you said incentivizing people's choices (including presumably reproductive choices) would have no effect on "the people who create the population problem". It's not like people are just randomly born when a breeze picks up. It requires some cooperative action on the part of some specific people, and that should be amenable to many kinds of incentives. In fact, we know that it must be, since society already incentivizes reproduction so positively and incessantly, which it would not do if that had no effect on the population.
 

bilby

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It wasn't convincing then and it isn't convincing now, bilby. You conflate two things: reducing population through not generating it in the first place (via measures such as those proposed in the OP article) and reducing it through widespread massacre. It's a rhetorical trick worthy of the most alarmist right-wing critic of socialized health care, and you don't disappoint with your dutiful inclusion of the Nazi example. The flaw in your moral reasoning is right here:

Population IS the 'real human world'. It's the thing we are trying to sustain.

Every single medical problem you have ever had is due to your being alive. If you were not alive, none of those problems would exist. Therefore, the solution to your medical issues is to stop living.

That's (I hope obviously) a stupid argument; so how is it different from:

Every single environmental problem we have ever had is due to our population. If we did not have a population, none of those problems would exist. Therefore, the solution to our environmental issues is to reduce population.

Solutions that cause more harm than the problems they are intended to address are NOT viable solutions. They are not even SANE solutions.

Population control is insane. It's a non-solution to a non-problem.

Moral concerns are concerns about the well-being and suffering of fellow sentient beings. They are not concerns about the future existence of more beings whom we can then expect to be morally concerned about. So, when you frame the central issue as one of trying to sustain the human population, you fail to realize that this is just a proxy for the actual moral issue of limiting the pain, injustice, and hardship that we cause to future generations through any action or inaction of ours, including our failure to prevent them being here to endure those harms. As the saying goes, it is more important to make people happy than to make happy people, because failing to make people happy results in the existence of unhappy people while failing to make happy people from scratch does not. So, your attempt at a reductio argument fails, because there is nothing absurd about reducing the number of people who will be forced, without their consent (as none is possible) to deal with the problem we are bound to leave for them.

I'll even take it to an extreme, and have you explain to me what the moral problem would be if there was no more human population at all due to the cessation of reproduction. This is a thought experiment, so I'm allowed to stipulate that the cessation was wholly voluntary on the part of each individual human. They simply lived the rest of their lives as they normally would have, except without offspring, and then died--also assume some artificial mechanism to care for the last remaining elderly people. This is a completely unlikely, abstract scenario that will never happen, but I invoke it because you presaged the idea in italics. So, I ask you: who would be harmed in this fictional example, and in what way would the environmental problem not be solved? Of course, the only honest answer is that nobody would be harmed and the environmental problem would be permanently solved.

Therefore, whatever your disagreement is, it isn't with the claim that a problem can be solved by depriving it of its victims. In practice, you worry that the implementation of such a strategy would be disastrous, and you're right, which is why nobody is suggesting that we attempt to convince every living human to abstain from reproduction. But your framing of the issue as a principled objection to population control per se on the grounds that it is harmful no matter what because it lessens what we are 'trying to sustain' is at odds with morality.

It's a common error in reasoning to eliminate as immoral or insane, either consciously or not, any courses of action that limit the spread of human life in the future. As if every moral choice we make is guaranteed full compatibility with the multiplication of our genes, without any preceding analysis for why this impulse should be shielded from all evaluation when so many others are subsumed. For that matter, it strikes me as morally lazy to simply conclude that all moral activity should be 'viable'. Is it not often the most difficult choices, requiring the deepest sacrifices, that characterize truly moral actions? There is the question of whether or not some action is viable and the question of whether or not it is moral, but they are not the same question. You may be right that widespread population control is not viable, but without linking this non-viability to morality, it seems rational to simply conclude that in this situation, the moral course of action is not viable for whatever reason. None of this watering down of morality and compromising with the extrinsic goals of human proliferation and convencience. That might work in politics and rhetoric, but in a philosophical context we should be honest and forthright about what is actually taking place.

Perhaps. But what you are attempting to rebut here is not the main thrust of my argument (and is instead a dismissal of an argument to which I was replying - that post is taken verbatim from a different conversation).

My actual argument here (which starts AFTER the italicised text, and most of which you snipped) is that the morality or otherwise of population control is irrelevant, because ALL of the ways to achieve it are EITHER morally good regardless of their impact on population; OR morally repugnant because they entail genocide or massive intrusion on human freedoms.
 

Bronzeage

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Without putting too fine a point on it, each person born, increases the population by one. There is nothing one can take to avoid being born, which is part of the problem.

But you said incentivizing people's choices (including presumably reproductive choices) would have no effect on "the people who create the population problem". It's not like people are just randomly born when a breeze picks up. It requires some cooperative action on the part of some specific people, and that should be amenable to many kinds of incentives. In fact, we know that it must be, since society already incentivizes reproduction so positively and incessantly, which it would not do if that had no effect on the population.

That part was a joke. It's a lead in to the argument that reducing the number of people already born is not an effective means to control excess population.
 

fromderinside

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If one observes how things have zigged and zagged between technology and tribalism over the industrial age, perhaps from the age of enlightenment one should observe cycles, swings in approaches, from technological to tribal in response to social challenges. Prior to the current wave of immigration induced increase in tribal actions for keeping out and bringing in productive groups, we had both contraceptive and green technology thrusts enabling both growth and constraint in human reproductive productivity. Sometime technology works against social and at other times the opposite is true.

Point being we know the primary actors for regulating population. I argue population regulation is built into current human nature. Population control becomes a tool measured within that nature, therefore such is moral.
 

DrZoidberg

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All well and good, and free will is arguably slightly off the main topic, but if all you say above is the case (and I'm not necessarily saying it is because it is not the case that we are controlled by our genes for example), then how come, according to you, "people who are emotionally shut down for whatever traumatic reasons may have more of a conscious control over this"?

Because that's why I replied to you in the first place.

I think it has to do with second guessing yourself. Not trusting your own feelings. It creates a distance between whatever it is that makes decisions and your hearts desires. Only people who don't trust what they are feeling, can move decisions through a more rational filter. Fundamentally, we're still ruled by feelings. It's just extra added steps that open up for a more rational approach.

Also, what is 'remote control' by genes?

If you obey your genes they trigger dopamine, serotonin, and whatever else makes you feel happy. If you don't obey your genes they trigger stuff that makes you anxious, angry or sad. That's why any decision you take is a faux decision. A choice between happiness and sadness isn't really a choice. And if it's a choice between two things that will cause neither emotional reaction in you, you won't care, so you won't make a decision.

But the instrument by which our genes control us is an exceedingly blunt instrument. That's why humans have been cheerfully having had sex for generations using condoms, and our genes have yet to adapt to create a revulsion to condom use. Which will happen. It's just a matter of time.

And what's this: "We can only talk about morality regarding things we can control". What things are those then, in light of all you just said?

Here's an example of what I mean. Imagine a pedophile. The only joy he gets in life is molesting children. His choices are, act on this and be happy for a little while, and then go to jail forever or don't act on it and be sad for the rest of his life. Any thinking rational human would go with molesting the child. A moments happiness is always better than a lifetime of sadness.

Moral choices are faux choices. You're not really choosing between moral options. You never really had a choice. You're just following your genetic programming and then justifying them after the fact. There's zero moral reasoning behind anything you do. That's why everybody sees themselves as the good guy in their little story they play in their heads. Hitler was constantly whining to his staff about the burden of sacrificing himself for the German people. In his head, he was the victim. The good guy. You're doing the same. Minus the extermination of Europe's jewry.
 

PyramidHead

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I think it has to do with second guessing yourself. Not trusting your own feelings. It creates a distance between whatever it is that makes decisions and your hearts desires. Only people who don't trust what they are feeling, can move decisions through a more rational filter. Fundamentally, we're still ruled by feelings. It's just extra added steps that open up for a more rational approach.



If you obey your genes they trigger dopamine, serotonin, and whatever else makes you feel happy. If you don't obey your genes they trigger stuff that makes you anxious, angry or sad. That's why any decision you take is a faux decision. A choice between happiness and sadness isn't really a choice. And if it's a choice between two things that will cause neither emotional reaction in you, you won't care, so you won't make a decision.

But the instrument by which our genes control us is an exceedingly blunt instrument. That's why humans have been cheerfully having had sex for generations using condoms, and our genes have yet to adapt to create a revulsion to condom use. Which will happen. It's just a matter of time.

And what's this: "We can only talk about morality regarding things we can control". What things are those then, in light of all you just said?

Here's an example of what I mean. Imagine a pedophile. The only joy he gets in life is molesting children. His choices are, act on this and be happy for a little while, and then go to jail forever or don't act on it and be sad for the rest of his life. Any thinking rational human would go with molesting the child. A moments happiness is always better than a lifetime of sadness.

Moral choices are faux choices. You're not really choosing between moral options. You never really had a choice. You're just following your genetic programming and then justifying them after the fact. There's zero moral reasoning behind anything you do. That's why everybody sees themselves as the good guy in their little story they play in their heads. Hitler was constantly whining to his staff about the burden of sacrificing himself for the German people. In his head, he was the victim. The good guy. You're doing the same. Minus the extermination of Europe's jewry.

Your conception of genetic programming is kind of antiquated, doc, and you don't seem to leave any role for culture. Plenty of things that disobey my genetic programming also make me feel happy, and plenty of things that follow genetic impulses make me anxious, angry, or sad. Genes shape our behavior in powerful ways, but they aren't the whole story. Even as I eventually agree with you that we don't have free reign over our conscious choices, I think pinning it all on genes is a bit simplistic.
 

ronburgundy

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I largely agree with with coercion dimension and where the categories of actions fall. However, I would argue that neutral policies that lack rewards people for having kids are on the left rather than "near the middle". Tax breaks for having kids are an "incentive" and thus on the right of middle, thus the absence of incentives is on the left and really involves zero coercion. In fact, even taxing people for having kids (i.e., requiring them to pay for the cost to others of their chosen action to procreate) is actually less coercive that taxing people without kids and giving that $ to people with kids (i.e., requiring people to pay for the actions of others).

I am definitely in favor of "preference adjustment" (aka education and providing information), so long as the information is science-based). I am also in favor of various "incentives", especially if they contingent upon whether the incentivized choice objectively benefits or reduces harm to others. Thus, I think in principle there is a more valid moral argument to be made for a child tax than a child tax credit, especially if there is an exemption for lower income people to avoid the tax causing actual harm to the child which would also harm society eventually, thus defeating the purpose of the tax in the first place.
 

Bronzeage

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I think it has to do with second guessing yourself. Not trusting your own feelings. It creates a distance between whatever it is that makes decisions and your hearts desires. Only people who don't trust what they are feeling, can move decisions through a more rational filter. Fundamentally, we're still ruled by feelings. It's just extra added steps that open up for a more rational approach.



If you obey your genes they trigger dopamine, serotonin, and whatever else makes you feel happy. If you don't obey your genes they trigger stuff that makes you anxious, angry or sad. That's why any decision you take is a faux decision. A choice between happiness and sadness isn't really a choice. And if it's a choice between two things that will cause neither emotional reaction in you, you won't care, so you won't make a decision.

But the instrument by which our genes control us is an exceedingly blunt instrument. That's why humans have been cheerfully having had sex for generations using condoms, and our genes have yet to adapt to create a revulsion to condom use. Which will happen. It's just a matter of time.

And what's this: "We can only talk about morality regarding things we can control". What things are those then, in light of all you just said?

Here's an example of what I mean. Imagine a pedophile. The only joy he gets in life is molesting children. His choices are, act on this and be happy for a little while, and then go to jail forever or don't act on it and be sad for the rest of his life. Any thinking rational human would go with molesting the child. A moments happiness is always better than a lifetime of sadness.

Moral choices are faux choices. You're not really choosing between moral options. You never really had a choice. You're just following your genetic programming and then justifying them after the fact. There's zero moral reasoning behind anything you do. That's why everybody sees themselves as the good guy in their little story they play in their heads. Hitler was constantly whining to his staff about the burden of sacrificing himself for the German people. In his head, he was the victim. The good guy. You're doing the same. Minus the extermination of Europe's jewry.

I have to admit, the pedophile economic model is not one you see used a lot.
 

Tom Sawyer

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I'd never really considered how it is that child rape is the clear moral choice. I've learned something today.
 

ronburgundy

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If you obey your genes they trigger dopamine, serotonin, and whatever else makes you feel happy. If you don't obey your genes they trigger stuff that makes you anxious, angry or sad.

Genes are not selected to optimize happiness. They are selected to optimize reproduction of reproductive offspring, which has only a tenuous and unreliable relationship to the subjective happiness of any individual organism.
Countless childless people are far happier than countless reproductive parents.

That's why any decision you take is a faux decision. A choice between happiness and sadness isn't really a choice.

Nothing about the concept of a "choice" requires that the options all make one similarly happy. Also, virtually every option can bring various consequences that are both happiness enhancing and reducing. Thus, actions do not determine happiness, but rather choice of how one thinks about the consequences determine happiness.


But the instrument by which our genes control us is an exceedingly blunt instrument. That's why humans have been cheerfully having had sex for generations using condoms, and our genes have yet to adapt to create a revulsion to condom use. Which will happen. It's just a matter of time.

No it won't. Plenty of people actually become unhappy, depressed, and even suicidal after fulfilling the evolutionary task of procreating. Societies have created cultural systems to shame and incentivize people into having kids, because plenty of people would not naturally choose the stress and other negative emotions often caused by procreating. Also, we only have one "happiness system". Any individual act only contributes a small % to overall happiness, and that contribution is itself multi-faceted because an act can have countless consequences, some of which reduce happiness and some increase it, and those effects differ in being long or short term. So, how any act impacts happiness is determined by how and what consequences a person chooses to focus upon. IOW, happiness is a choice and under a person's control, not simply an byproduct of genetically determined actions.
 

DrZoidberg

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Genes are not selected to optimize happiness. They are selected to optimize reproduction of reproductive offspring, which has only a tenuous and unreliable relationship to the subjective happiness of any individual organism.
Countless childless people are far happier than countless reproductive parents.

Since that doesn't follow from my argument, your point is moot. All that is required is that we think we'll be happier with kids. That's what is rewarded. As well as rewarding sex.

Nothing about the concept of a "choice" requires that the options all make one similarly happy. Also, virtually every option can bring various consequences that are both happiness enhancing and reducing. Thus, actions do not determine happiness, but rather choice of how one thinks about the consequences determine happiness.

True. But it's still a faux choice. Fundamentally it's always a emotional choice.


But the instrument by which our genes control us is an exceedingly blunt instrument. That's why humans have been cheerfully having had sex for generations using condoms, and our genes have yet to adapt to create a revulsion to condom use. Which will happen. It's just a matter of time.

No it won't. Plenty of people actually become unhappy, depressed, and even suicidal after fulfilling the evolutionary task of procreating. Societies have created cultural systems to shame and incentivize people into having kids, because plenty of people would not naturally choose the stress and other negative emotions often caused by procreating. Also, we only have one "happiness system". Any individual act only contributes a small % to overall happiness, and that contribution is itself multi-faceted because an act can have countless consequences, some of which reduce happiness and some increase it, and those effects differ in being long or short term. So, how any act impacts happiness is determined by how and what consequences a person chooses to focus upon. IOW, happiness is a choice and under a person's control, not simply an byproduct of genetically determined actions.

All that's perfectly true. But the OP is about the morals of controlling births and we'd never, in a democratic society, put up with it. Because many of us see having children as the greatest achievement in life. Loads.

If some people develop a revulusion to contraceptives and it's genetic they'd over time out compete the rest of us.

One of the most common female sexual fetishes is the feeling of being ejaculated inside. Nature can be quite intricate in how it programmes us
 

ronburgundy

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Since that doesn't follow from my argument, your point is moot. All that is required is that we think we'll be happier with kids. That's what is rewarded. As well as rewarding sex.

Yes it does follow from your argument. You said that that obeying our genes makes us happy and not obeying our genes makes us sad. That presumes that our genes our selected to promote behaviors that make us happy. And many people do not think they will be happier with kids and the prevalence of such a belief is not merely genes but massive socialization coercion to have kids. Also, the happier people are prior to having kids, the less likely they are to have them, because kids reduce one's ability to engage in other pleasurable activities. That is why it is mostly people made unhappy by poverty or by living in oppressive countries that are having most of the kids. And when people have kids, most of the time their happiness actually decreases, which is why most couples wind up having fewer kids than they planned.



True. But it's still a faux choice. Fundamentally it's always a emotional choice.

It is as much a choice as humans can possible make. People choose things that lower their happiness every day. Emotions are just one type of information that informs choices, and it's not just a matter of increases positive emotions and decreasing negative one's. People often act to do things that increase their sadness (like sticking with a miserable job or relationship) in order to decrease fear of uncertainty. Unlike most animals, humans do not simply react to immediate emotional states. We delay gratification and often reduce our net gratification for the sake of others. That's because people focus their attention of isolated features and isolated goals rather than their current or even long term net gratification. For example a mother who endures a life of abuse and misery on a daily basis resulting in a net reduction in positive emotion by every type of measure, b/c she focuses solely on an isolated goal of staying in the role she thinks is her duty.
Failing to optimize net gratification doesn't mean a choice has not been made, unless you use the tautological assumption that choices require optimizing net gratification.

But the instrument by which our genes control us is an exceedingly blunt instrument. That's why humans have been cheerfully having had sex for generations using condoms, and our genes have yet to adapt to create a revulsion to condom use. Which will happen. It's just a matter of time.

No it won't. Plenty of people actually become unhappy, depressed, and even suicidal after fulfilling the evolutionary task of procreating. Societies have created cultural systems to shame and incentivize people into having kids, because plenty of people would not naturally choose the stress and other negative emotions often caused by procreating. Also, we only have one "happiness system". Any individual act only contributes a small % to overall happiness, and that contribution is itself multi-faceted because an act can have countless consequences, some of which reduce happiness and some increase it, and those effects differ in being long or short term. So, how any act impacts happiness is determined by how and what consequences a person chooses to focus upon. IOW, happiness is a choice and under a person's control, not simply an byproduct of genetically determined actions.

All that's perfectly true. But the OP is about the morals of controlling births and we'd never, in a democratic society, put up with it. Because many of us see having children as the greatest achievement in life. Loads.

I am not arguing with the OP, but with assertions about "faux choices" and the role of emotions in those choices and in human evolution, which is irrelevant to whether our society would put up with controlling births, which in turn is irrelevant to the question of whether it would be morally acceptable to have such policies.
And the widespread view that having children is the greatest achievement in life is not simply genetically determines but the result of massive social coercion and indoctrination. There wouldn't be so much effort to promote that notion by every sector of society, pop culture, and authoritarian religion, if our genes were sufficient to dispose us toward it naturally. The more free people are to choose their actions without social coercion or being constrained by poverty, the fewer kids they have.

If some people develop a revulusion to contraceptives and it's genetic they'd over time out compete the rest of us.

But that is a big improbable "If", because Lamarck was wrong and traits do not appear in the genome just because they would be evolutionary useful. Odds are low that such a genetically determined revulsion would ever appear in the genome, because of the infinite things that could be useful, only a tiny fraction of a fraction of a percent of them ever appear in the genome. What appears is a small subset of random alterations constrained by the biochemistry of what is in the genome already. Sure, given infinite time, it would happen, but there is not infinite time in the future of humans who will be extinct before such a variant has the chance to arise. Betting on what genetic variations will arise in order to be selected for is a sure fire way to lose.

One of the most common female sexual fetishes is the feeling of being ejaculated inside. Nature can be quite intricate in how it programmes us

And evolution is extremely sloppy, and has equipped the human brain with capacities that regularly undermine the goal of procreation and make things like that fetish less likely to lead to procreation. Many of the women with that fetish also have an instinct to rid themselves of threats to their well being, and as a byproduct of evolution there are many activities that increase their well being which are hampered by a child, thus making a child a threat to well being and the desire to get rid of it a byproduct of evolved traits.
 

rousseau

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Yes it does follow from your argument. You said that that obeying our genes makes us happy and not obeying our genes makes us sad. That presumes that our genes our selected to promote behaviors that make us happy.

I read it more as something like:
- our genes drive us toward pleasure seeking behaviors

NOT

- our genes have evolved to make us happy

Subtle distinction. It is true that our genes drive us to seek out pleasure, not true that we are pre-destined to be happy. Rather, quite the opposite, we're destined to be constantly seeking more pleasure.

With kids, I don't think it's kids themselves, it's the associated feelings of the whole package. For the most part starting a family is a better deal than being single for the majority of people, so it happens. And for some it just happens because they never consider an alternative.
 

rousseau

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Hard to get the gist of the entire conversation above without in depth reading, but the idea that the majority of humans aren't genetically inclined to want kids is untenable to me.

The simple proof is that those who don't want kids fall out of the gene pool. Only those who have (and presumably want) kids, reproduce, meaning subsequent generations will continue wanting kids. Even if we normalize for social norms, this is only going to weed out the people who didn't really want kids, leading to a population that more ubiquitously wants kids.
 

rousseau

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I also think the variation of people who have kids, in terms of whether they really want them, suggests there's something else going on. It's not always 'having children', it's the intimacy of a partnership and family, access to regular sex etc. In many cases I think people *literally do want kids*, but there are other forces that cause us to have them besides social pressure. For many it's a calculation of being alone/bored for the rest of your life, or having a hard but emotionally fulfilling life.
 

PyramidHead

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Hard to get the gist of the entire conversation above without in depth reading, but the idea that the majority of humans aren't genetically inclined to want kids is untenable to me.

The simple proof is that those who don't want kids fall out of the gene pool. Only those who have (and presumably want) kids, reproduce, meaning subsequent generations will continue wanting kids. Even if we normalize for social norms, this is only going to weed out the people who didn't really want kids, leading to a population that more ubiquitously wants kids.

If that were true, then wouldn't we expect the proportion of humans who do not want to have offspring to be basically nonexistent at this point? The effect you suggest is exponential, in that each generation would be another round of weeding out those without the "gene" for wanting children. Yet, we see no evidence that today's population of humans is any more pro-reproduction than any past population. If anything, the acceptance of childlessness is at an all-time high at this point in history, which would be unlikely if every generation was subjected to a process of winnowing out those who are reluctant to be parents. Your argument is actually a good reason to believe that there is actually no genetic compulsion for kids, just for things that are sometimes associated with kids (like sex), and qualities that are regarded positively in others as a proxy (like cuteness or vulnerability). It's arguable that these traits are what our genes program us to pursue, and culture fills in the rest of the sentence. Otherwise, there would be no way to explain people who enjoy cute babies but don't want one of their own, or love sex but are staunchly antinatalist; their very existence means they had a long line of ancestors, which doesn't really fit with the stringent selection pressure mechanism you are proposing.
 

ruby sparks

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And it's not just not having no kids at all, it's also not having more kids. If we were 'genetically progammed' no one would use family planning, and its use is widely prevalent where it and information about it are freely available. This probably highlights the cultural and situational aspects of the issue, and we all understand how culture and attitudes can change with circumstances even when genes don't. Because, of course, nowadays it's understood that we are not progammed by our genes when it comes to this behaviour.
 
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