Now here is a sensible blog post about breeding by Duchess.
It actually has citations from proper articles. It even the mentions a girl doing a PhD on the subject of the ethics of breeding. Unlike me, who can never be bothered to track down research and cite shit. I am too lazy to do any more than have an incoherent rant. This entire blog is one huge, incoherent rant.
I must confess I particularly enjoyed the timid disclaimer at the bottom about how the PhD girl who is writing about breeding morality loves children and isn’t having a go at any breeders. That made me snicker a little, the idea that there was a need for that disclaimer.
The article linked within the post from the New Yorker was also a very interesting read.
‘The case against kids: Is procreation immoral?’ Elizabeth Kolbert, 2012. in The New Yorker.
“In “Why Have Children?: The Ethical Debate” (M.I.T. Press), Christine Overall tries to subject that decision to morally rigorous analysis. Overall, who teaches philosophy at Queen’s University, in Ontario, dismisses the notion that childbearing is “natural” and therefore needs no justification.
“There are many urges apparently arising from our biological nature that we nonetheless should choose not to act upon,” she observes. If we’re going to keep having kids, we ought to be able to come up with a reason.”
I had a huge argument with a friend of the ex’s back in Bombay last December. We met him and his now fiancée at this hotel near the airport for dinner (Don’t know why we chose a place near the airport. The airport is in the middle of nowhere, the food was so-so and was massively over priced). We got into a heated debate over our Paan Pasand flavoured Shesha, or perhaps even a sequence of debates.
The first one was about breeding dogs to develop or enhance certain genetic traits. (I’m totally against this. It seems cruel and unnecessary to actively cultivate a squashed pug nose if that nose results in limited or poor ability to breathe.)
Or those genetically bred cows that have so much muscle (It’s for people who want really lean, low-fat meat) that they can’t even have sex without a human manually having to inserting the bull’s penis. Here I’ve even attached an article. See? I’m being so good and almost semi-researched. Maybe I should do a PhD.
This argument then morphed into:
“If you know you and your partner both have a high chance of passing on a debilitating genetic condition to any offspring would you still have a baby?”
I’d like to say that I presented a good defence of the ‘No’ stance, but some of his arguments (especially no.4 below) were so maddening that after a point I just got enraged and incoherent. Also the ex was on my left, acting like an atrocious little troll, constantly interrupting rudely in trying to change the subject and derail the debate. The ex doesn’t enjoy debates.
So this guy’s response to the question above was “Yes” and these were the core reasons listed below (My arguments underneath)
“All procreation carries some risk.”
Of course it does. What a redundant point. Everything we ever do carries risk. Walking across a street carries risk. But most people also have the capacity to assess the risk and make an informed decision based on that assessment.
If there is a high risk when running across a train track when the signal is red that you will get hit, then most people would avoid running across a train track. I don’t see why this wouldn’t apply to breeding. In fact I should think this should especially apply to breeding in the circumstances mentioned above.
“Doctors don’t know everything and can’t predict the outcome accurately. Even if they tell you the chances of this kid having a horrific incurable condition is high, like a 50/50 chance. Even if its 80%. Even if its 99.9%. They can’t know everything. So I’d have this kid anyway and take that 0.01% chance.”
What an idiot.
Again, sure part of the statement is true to a degree. (Doctors don’t know everything.) However it is also insane.
Firstly doctors don’t claim to know everything. They are presenting you with the chances of a certain outcome that you are free to then take or leave. However their inaccuracy will be a good deal less inaccurate than yours.
Secondly if using the logic above, you refuse to listen to a professional who may have spent a several years studying to give you solutions, why bother going to see a doctor at all? Just visit a Homeopath. Or a yogi. Just as good. In fact better – You’ll won’t have to think about the risks at all – They’ll tell you to pray harder, swallow a special herbal remedy when the Moon is in Vishnu and everything will be just dandy.
But reading between the lines here’s what I think this guy was actually saying,
“I’m willing to take the risk, even if it’s very high because the person who would suffer the most is this child but that’s ok because what I want is a baby and getting what I want is more important to me and besides I can easily rationalise it.”
In fact if he just said that I’d be fine with the whole thing. I’d still think he was a selfish, amoral, butthead but at least he’d be an honest one. This whole ‘I’m bringing a child into the world for its benefit and the benefit of the world’ is such a crock of shit. I want to vomit every time some deluded breeder or to-be breeder says it. (Unlike the Duchess I have no disclaimer)
“Existing but being in incredible pain is better than not existing at all.”
I couldn’t even be bothered to argue this at dinner. It’s too … exhausting. Non existing creatures won’t care that they don’t exist. Plus creating something when you know it will suffer (and not in the existential angsty sort of way, while listening to a Morrissey album, but really suffer.) seems like nothing short of torture to me.
I think this guy had religious leanings. People with religious leanings never seem to mind creating things that will suffer. They have a million ways of justifying it. So that’s always a dead-end. I stopped bothering with it a while ago. Religion I mean. If I’m going to argue about fiction I’d rather it was a debate about The Hobbit and whether Gandalf was a bit gay. (I think he might have been)
“I’d love this child. My love would be better than it having good health.”
Actual statement. I’m not even paraphrasing.
Oh yes yes of course, your love would compensate for all this baby suffers even though you chose to procreate in the face of medical advice, even though you could have adopted. What a saint.
He then presented us with 2 theoretical situations:
One a baby is born to a large but poor family. They neglect the child and probably they won’t be able to give him/her any of the good things in life but this kid would be totally healthy.
Or two, a baby is born to this genetically dodge couple, he has a terrible incurable chronic illness and disability but his parents would really, really love it and give it whatever it wanted.
If you had the power to decide into which family this baby would be born which would you choose?
Even the ex who normally NEVER agrees with me picked the first option. Who the fuck wouldn’t?? I’d imagine that most parents just want their kids to be born healthy.
This particular argument really blew my mind. The sheer deluded arrogance of it. The amazing selfishness. My love will conquer all. Even genetic illness. Even suffering. I mean seriously. Who does this guy think he is? Mother Teresa?
Even now, months after this dinner my mind reels.
“Benatar’s case rests on a critical but, in his view, unappreciated asymmetry. Consider two couples, the A’s and the B’s. The A’s are young, healthy, and rich. If they had children, they could give them the best of everything—schools, clothes, electronic gaming devices. Even so, we would not say that the A’s have a moral obligation to reproduce.
The B’s are just as young and rich. But both have a genetic disease, and, were they to have a child together, that child would suffer terribly. We would say, using Benatar’s logic, that the B’s have an ethical obligation not to procreate.
The case of the A’s and the B’s shows that we regard pleasure and pain differently. Pleasure missed out on by the nonexistent doesn’t count as a harm. Yet suffering avoided counts as a good, even when the recipient is a nonexistent one.”
I’m totally on board with this Bentar guy. In fact I wish he was with me at this dinner. Just him, his huge thesis (not a euphemism) and his beautiful logic.
The ex was very annoyed about this entire debate and refused to take part, except by trying to stop it by occasionally yelling at me. (Being the incredibly rude person the ex is).
For once though I was perfectly happy to comply and wrap the thing up. (It wasn’t going anywhere this debate, although I did get quite annoyed when the ex was being particularly trollish. We were both sitting there hissing at each other now and then.) but the ex’s friend really wanted to carry on. He just wouldn’t drop it. The ex lectured me all the way home. I didn’t pay any attention.
In other news, I just got back from holiday in the Caribbean. I feel terribly smug.
I’m brown as a nut and looking more like an Indian than I’ve looked in ages.
So I’m asking Punjab to send over a crate of Fair & Lovely. It seems to be all the rage these days.