Thursday, 20 March 2008

In defense of crazy people.

Hey Andy, thanks for the quick and detailed response. Just feel I should pick up on a couple of your points, and defend some of the original poster's arguments:

Firstly, I don't think that her lists of pros and cons were intended as an exhaustive analysis, or as proof of a clear cut argument. As she says, they are lists reproduced from a psychological study, and, from the description of the study, they are the most common answers given by parents and people who have chosen not to have children.

In terms of the lists themselves, I'm not sure it's possible to classify them properly as selfish or unselfish without defining 'selfishness' first, something that will differ from person to person and culture to culture.

Secondly, I don't believe that the author was claiming that this action would solve the world's problems, or asking for such a system to be enforced. Instead, I think that she was saying that the act of having children is one that is not typically thought about in the context of environmental impact (whereas your examples of electricity use and driving are commonly used and widely known), and that perhaps this an area in which people could do think about making changes too, in the same way that they might recycle, or offset carbon emissions.

Finally, you said: "I'm not going to have a kid for the sake of it, I'm going to have one because I really want one and for many other reasons besides that."

Is there any particular reason that you would want to actively produce a kid rather than adopting? Would the issue of environmental impact ever have anything to do with your decision, or do you not think it is a consideration people should be making?

Just interested. :D


Andy J. Wotherspoon said...

If they're not meant to be clear cut etc. how can she conclude that there is no way (that she can think of) that you can have an "ethical baby". this requires clear cut evidence.

To me selfishness comes down to putting yourself first above anything else, and surely that is a relatively standard interpretation.

My suggestions are cliché and already being implemented, but by an incredibly small proportion of people, it is possible that the author doesn't hold to all the standard ones (but obviously I can't say) so to suggest that having a baby is a sensible way to change things does seem a little hypocritical and over the top.

As I said this works more on a case by case thing, if you're thinking of having a kid because you want to be seen as a parent or get benefits or some other stupid reason then you should probably consider the impact on the environment, but then if your thinking is so obtuse as to have a kid for fiscal reasons then you're unlikely to think further than your own issues.

One could also say that the billions of people on the earth that exist, removing a very small percentage wont help, but then this can be said for many things that help the environment and is really a silly way of thinking (not sure why I've put this, alternative view maybe?)

As I said adoption isn't the same as having your own kid, and personally (be it selfish or not) I don't think I'd adopt as it's just not what I'd want to do. Screw continuing my genes or name or whatever, I really couldn't care less, it's something much deeper than that and not quantifiable. This isn't to say that I wouldn't consider it at all, but I'm not sure if I'd be up to the challenges which come with adoption, but maybe I'm being naive and/or selfish, who knows?

TheTelf said...

In terms of 'clear cut' arguments, I think she was saying that she could see no reason to bring a new child into the world rather than adopting, and that she didn't find any of the most common arguments convincing on that front.

I'm sure most definitions of selfishness would centre around the same kind of thing that you suggest, but the differences come in where people draw their lines. Is it selfish to do something that benefits yourself a lot and someone else a little? Is anything short of total selflessness selfish, or is there a grey area in which we can still do things for ourselves without being selfish?

On the adoption issue, is there really any difference between bringing up a child that is biologically yours and one that is not? (taking adoption to be the more basic, less common, adoption-from-birth, rather than adopting older kids). I'm not trying to press the point, I'm genuinely interested in finding ways to express the 'non-quantifiable' differences.