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Anders Hoveland

Reproduction— a right or a privilege?

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The human species cannot go on reproducing forever. Eventually it will place a strain on the available land and resources, and will likely lead to deforestation and pollution. Sustainable ways of living are possible, but I fear by the time human societies finally recognise that they have to become sustainable, there will exist far many more people than can be supported by a sustainable way of living, since sustainable sources of resources and energy cannot support as high population densities. In fact, I suspect that overpopulation will become a problem even before this happens, because human society operates within an economic system (which is not perfectly efficient) and there will not be enough jobs or affordable housing for the growing number of people. Is not birth control much preferable to starvation and death by exposure to the cold?

 

At some point every country may have to resort to the coerced abortion tactics that The Peoples Republic of China is using.

 

If there is only a limited number of people that can be sustainably supported on the planet, would it not make sense to favor those without severe physical/genetic defects? Is it fair to a child to be born with such severe defects that they cannot live anything resembling normal life? How many children should each person be allowed to have?

 

Will positive incentives and voluntary use of contraceptives be enough to control birth rates, or will the government have to resort to punishments, or even forced sterilisations? How should society deal with parents that continue to have many children but afford to take care of all of them? Should abortions be part of the early solution, or have we not become that desperate? Perhaps in some ways forced sterilisations are more humane than voluntary abortions? If we can justify that it is just a "clump of cells" that are being killed, surely we can justify taking away a human's ability to reproduce?

 

As I see it, in the long-term, human rights to reproduction could potentially be incompatible with the human right to life.

 

Now, in some of the developed countries we have seen declining birth rates, even negetive birth replacement rates. This is encouraging (at least in some ways). But it is by no means a guarantee of controlling population growth. I think reduced birth rates have more to do with increasing urbanisation than increasing living standards. The available open space becomes more limited, families do not want to be stuck in a small house or apartment with so many noisy children. In poor rural areas the children would spend most of the day outside, but in the cities there is not really any open space for them to play in near the place of living. It requires a parent to walk to the park with their children and supervise them, or often the park is not even within easy walking distance so the parent has to drive their children. The types of jobs also become different. As a society becomes more "developed", the price of land goes up. People cannot afford to be farmers, and seek better job opportunities in more crowded cities. People work for employers, rather than for themselves, and the economic structure changes. Women either seek new career opportunities, or become pressured into working to afford rent or mortgage payments. Children no longer become convenient to have. Women are not allowed to take them to work. In summary, much of the reason for people not wanting ot have children has to do with reduced standards of living in certain ways, despite the increased standard of living overall.

 

Because of this, I am not sure that what has worked for the Western countries can work for all the rest of the world. India, for example, is not having much success controlling its overpopulation, despite a rapid rate of development. And the longer we wait to control world population growth, the more difficult it will be to bring all the people into a "developed" state of living, to reduce population growth. Because of the prospect of future immigration across borders, this is a world problem. If we only concern ourselves with our own country, our country could still be faced with insurmountable problems in the future. It only takes a single big country to ruin it for all the other countries. For example, all the other countries could reduce fertility levels to only replacement levels, but still be subject to population growth if they continued to take in immigrants from India, which has high fertility rates and a rapidly multiplying population. I suppose a country could reduce its fertility rates to even lower than the replacement rate, to accomodate immigration (and the higher fertility rtes of the recently arrived immigrants themselves), but this could lead to potential ethical, social, and political controversy, as it would essentially be the coerced replacement of one ethnicity by another.

 

One more thing. Human evolution also plays a role, and certain aspects of it can become evident much faster than many people realise due to simple natural selection over a few generations. If humans are "encouraged" to have fewer offspring, the ones that are more "resistant" to being encouraged will tend ot have more offspring. The gene pool will then tend ot accumulate progressively more genes that favor higher fertility rates in spite of actions by the government. In many ways genetics can have a strong influence on behavioral propensities. If for example condoms are given to all the men, the ones who do not like to use them, or are less responsible and do not always use them, will potentially father more children. Over several generations, the male sexual organ could become less sensitive, to the point that use of a condom would not allow as much sexual pleasure. More men would prefer not to use condoms. This is just one example, and there are countless other potential ways natural selection could become counterproductive to population control efforts.

 

So is the human ability to reproduce a right or a privilege?

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I predict we'll move off the planet before this becomes a world-wide problem.

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I predict we'll move off the planet before this becomes a world-wide problem.

 

Transporting a large number of people into space, and building space colonies that can support decent human standards of living, is going to be much more challenging and expensive than most people realise. While it is theoretically possible, I am not convinced that it will be a practical solution to overpopulation in the future. I question whether human societies even have the capability to send 10 percent of the world population into space and keep them all alive out there.

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There is a serious problem if we consider declining birth rates at a time when medical science is extending the lives of the elderly. It is accepted in our society that elderly people have a right to spend their last years out of the "rat race". Although people may do what they can to provide for this retirement, extension of life inevitably results eventually in the elderly needing support in one form or another from the young. Sometimes how the young are forced to do this is not immediately apparent. In my own case I paid into pension schemes which have provided me with a decent standard of living for the last twenty years. However in the process I have had more out of the pension schemes than I put in. The shortfall is being made up from the pension contributions made by today's young workers (who's own pension schemes are in debt). In theory, I suppose, everyone should retire at a greater age - but today's workers see that what we ,the elderly, have been given is what they also deserve. Who can blame them?

I have no answer - just stating one of the problems associated with a declining birth rate at a time when life expectancy is increasing.

Edited by Joatmon

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A woman's ability to control her sexuality and her rate of reproduction should be, in my opinion, a right.

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Transporting a large number of people into space, and building space colonies that can support decent human standards of living, is going to be much more challenging and expensive than most people realise. While it is theoretically possible, I am not convinced that it will be a practical solution to overpopulation in the future. I question whether human societies even have the capability to send 10 percent of the world population into space and keep them all alive out there.<br />

 

It would surely also be cheaper to deal with overpopulation with terrestrial politics!

 

I share concerns for overpopulation, but, despite the gravity of the problem, I do not believe there is any way of ethically legislating preventative measures. We require public understanding and education so that people are informed enough to not have children unnecessarily. I think part of this must come from biology, so that we can continue to dispel the myth that there is something magical about having one's own child - it's just a bunch of shared genes; so what? I think even fertile couples should prioritise adoption over having their own genetic offspring.

Edited by Polednice

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It boils down to whether a minority of humans should be allowed to exercise their basic human rights to the point of causing massive near-extinction level events.

Of course, if it's reproductive rights, we are then talking about whether a minority that becomes a majority should be allowed to have that power - whether the discussion arguably happens before or after that minority becomes the majority being beside the point.

 

I would personally argue, that if humans decide in the end not to run ourselves into extinction (whether by over population or any other issue) then it will be because we've managed to find some balance between our natural instincts, our intellectual understanding of the world, and how to live contently without creating problems with our neighbors.

 

Any legislative effort to enforce a reproductive policy at the expensive of basic human rights would only undermine progress towards finding that balance. It would suppress people's drives, which retards growth and diverts the suppressed population's efforts towards eroding and bypassing the oppressive policy, when they could be learning about how much better life is when you have access to birth control.

 

 

In short, being afraid that a bunch of people "acting like animals" will lead to a crisis is no justification for acting like a bunch of animals.

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No humans should be allowed to reproduce. It's time we give back what we stole from non-human organisms.

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No humans should be allowed to reproduce. It's time we give back what we stole from non-human organisms.

But then who will be around to force the mammals to give back what they stole from dinosaurs?

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But then who will be around to force the mammals to give back what they stole from dinosaurs?

The only answer then is to develop a time machine. I think it'll take a lot of work though - probably tons of people working for generations. Perhaps the best solution is to have lots of children, and teach them physics?

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But then who will be around to force the mammals to give back what they stole from dinosaurs?

 

 

Non-human mammals didn't steal N E thing from N E 1. All non-human entities are entirely innocent and incapable of evil.

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Non-human mammals didn't steal N E thing from N E 1. All non-human entities are entirely innocent and incapable of evil.

By that argument, non-human entities aren't capable of good either.

 

I'd be happy to argue that animals can be, if not evil, at least jerks. Males often murder the offspring of other males, just to rape the female mothers - I believe that is observed in all sorts of mammals from bears to dolphins. Meerkat females of high social status will kill the offspring of lower status females so those females can spend more time playing nanny for their offspring.

 

Whether you feel this is not evil and is "innocent" because the critters' instincts are natural - there is no less pain and suffering for that fact. All this is just the suffering we see caused by nature. The sheer volume of life that experienced truly horrific existences - solely because evolution has to try "nearly everything" before natural selection favors the few variations that help reproduction. If you're really lucky, that will correlate to less suffering, or if you're a praying mantis - having your head bitten off.

 

Nature produces nice pretty rivers too, but it takes a very long time of water going just about everywhere, until it carves the most efficient path. In terms of nature and evolution, even the "order" we see that makes for the biological equivalent of "pretty rivers" you can't forget the banks are sandbagged with millions of dead who did nothing to deserve suffering other than be randomly born with genetic handicaps that assure their deaths.

 

Nature never "drives" a species forward, it corrupts their genes so they go in every direction, and the one direction that doesn't include total and complete die off becomes what people call "forward" since that's the only place you'll find any survivors of the species. Even then you have to be really lucky, because most species arrive at dead ends anyway - no matter what they overcame to get there.

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But now that an intelligent life form has finally evolved, evolution has the potential to go in a different direction.

 

Much like the Cambrian explosion, the arrival of science will lead to rapid transition.

 

The development of human intelligence allows for the possibility of consciously selecting the course of evolution - essentially eugenics.

Edited by Anders Hoveland

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I predict we'll move off the planet before this becomes a world-wide problem.

 

 

It's already a problem, the only thing holding it off is that we are plundering our non-renewable natural resources to make up for the shortfalls.

 

 

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It's already a problem, the only thing holding it off is that we are plundering our non-renewable natural resources to make up for the shortfalls.

 

So will there have to be more rationing, and more invassive and annoying "efficiency" mandates if we don't start controlling our population now?

 

And should we just cut off immigration and let the third world go to hell, or continue to take all these people in and hope we can solve the problem of overpopulation in the entire world before our countries become overcrowded ?

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So will there have to be more rationing, and more invassive and annoying "efficiency" mandates if we don't start controlling our population now?

 

And should we just cut off immigration and let the third world go to hell, or continue to take all these people in and hope we can solve the problem of overpopulation in the entire world before our countries become overcrowded ?

 

Rationing? We stopped rationing in the 50s in the UK - and I don't know of many countries that have it now. And we in the rich post-industrial nations need the low cost and low wage economies of the rest of the world much more than they need us. Whilst, every so often and to a minuscule extent, we remember our shared humanity and try to raise living standards; the daily reality is that the wealthy nations exploit the resources, both physical and human, of the poorer nations - and this exploitation is what allows us to continue our wonderfully high standard of living. Without the profiteering of the rich nations, the poor and less-industrialized nations would have a greater surplus from their own labour to invest into infrastructure and building - I acknowledge that many corporations make huge inward investments into poorer nations, but these investments are carefully calculated not to lift the labour pool out of the poverty that the investor requires for his or her profit margins.

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This is ridiculous. Just saying something will happen doesn't satisfy the burden of evidence. Birthrate has been going down for decades, showing a strong correlation with urbanization. As more of the population becomes urban birthrate will only continue to fall. Just because you can reason out something in your head doesn't mean it's not bull #&^$

 

One more thing. Human evolution also plays a role' date=' and certain aspects of it can become evident much faster than many people realise due to simple natural selection over a few generations. If humans are "encouraged" to have fewer offspring, the ones that are more "resistant" to being encouraged will tend ot have more offspring. The gene pool will then tend ot accumulate progressively more genes that favor higher fertility rates in spite of actions by the government. In many ways genetics can have a strong influence on behavioral propensities. If for example condoms are given to all the me, the ones who do not like to use them, or are less responsible and do not always use them, will potentially father more children. Over several generations, the male sexual organ could become less sensitive, to the point that use of a condom would not allow as much sexual pleasure. More men would prefer not to use condoms. This is just one example, and there are countless other potential ways natural selection could become counterproductive to population control efforts.[/quote']

 

You'd have a hard time showing any evidence that these traits are very heritable. Again, just because you can reason something out in your head doesn't make it true. In a world where one identical twin can have MS and the other be completely healthy, complex subtle psychological attributes really mean very little genetically.

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It's already a problem, the only thing holding it off is that we are plundering our non-renewable natural resources to make up for the shortfalls.

 

Such as? Are we running out of something?

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