How do you reconcile the lack of choice that children have in being born?

post by Bayu · 2021-04-06T21:29:00.750Z · LW · GW · No comments

This is a question post.


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It seems at times it's almost rather immoral to bring life without the child having any say in the matter, but how would you assess the morality of something like childbirth if they aren't yet in existence when you make the decision? I've seen some arguments claiming that life generally has more suffering than happiness, so could it really just be a question of quality of life, or should the possible impact on the child be ignored?


answer by River · 2021-04-07T02:30:23.132Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If in expectation a life involves more suffering than happiness, then it is immoral to create such a life. I think that that is not the case, for most people, there is more happiness than suffering. We justify making the choice for an as-yet-non-existent person the same way we justify making all choices for very small children, and gradually fewer choices as the child gets older: until they are able to make a decision for themselves, somebody else has to make it for them, and all we can do is give the decision to someone we think will act in the child's best interests.

comment by MrGus99 · 2021-04-07T22:18:01.841Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

>If in expectation a life involves more suffering than happiness, then it is immoral to create such a life.

That's only the case if your moral axiom is "Maximize Lives of Net Happiness"

If your moral axiom is "Maximize Agency", then it's not necessarily immoral to create a life that will experience net suffering. 

comment by Viliam · 2021-04-07T18:38:07.878Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As a rule of thumb: (1) are you happy that you exist? (2) do you have a reason to believe that your children will have life worse than you?

answer by crl826 · 2021-04-07T15:16:57.024Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How many people truly wish they were never born?

comment by bbleeker · 2021-04-08T08:48:52.679Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Many, I bet! Me, for one. I'm actually quite happy now, but if someone offered me the chance to live my life over the same way again, I'd refuse. And I haven't even had a bad life, objectively.

answer by thefaun · 2021-04-07T12:46:35.260Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think it's quite easy. Chose not to have children yourself and leave the moral burden to those who are ready to bear it. It's not like there's a lack of new humans anyway.

answer by MrGus99 · 2021-04-07T22:10:19.063Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"You didn't choose to be born" only needs reconciliation if you care about the existence of choices. And if you do care about the existence of choices, then how do you reconcile the nonexistence of choices in a world devoid of people?

answer by avturchin · 2021-04-07T11:58:00.356Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Everything exists in the multiverse, so there is no choice: a child will be born anyway

comment by Viliam · 2021-04-07T18:33:49.029Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's this excuse too general? Like, anything you do, it happens somewhere in the multiverse, therefore...

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