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Is it ethical to have children? Show more Show less
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The ethical debate over childbearing has many aspects, including parental motives, the autonomy of the mother, the ability to provide for children, and the environmental catastrophe. Some argue that having children is a biological drive rather than a moral decision.

Yes, it is ethical to have children Show more Show less

The benefits of having a child outweigh the costs. Even though childbearing comes with an environmental cost, its contributions to economic growth and human welfare are remarkable. Therefore, according to utilitarianism, it is ethical to have children.
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Population growth is necessary for economic well-being

Most world economic systems are founded on the premise of growth. Without growth, there is no economic prosperity. Since the benefits of having a child outweigh the costs, childbearing is ethical.

The Argument

Having children is necessary to fuel population growth and hence economic welfare. First of all, people are producers. Each new child signifies new ideas and contributions to the world, specifically to the economic systems.[1] Secondly, population growth is an important tool in achieving economic growth and saving many people from poverty. For example, Australia’s high population growth helped the economy to grow through the economic downturn since 1990. It also helped with economic prosperity by contributing to the income per head of the population. However, now, the country’s aging population demands a migrant intake to help keep a productive balance because Australian people less and less choose to have a child.[2] Such a situation is true for many other developed countries. Besides, underdeveloped countries also need women to have more children. Population growth and urbanization go together, and economic development is closely correlated with urbanization. No country has ever reached high income levels with low urbanization. For example, Kenya has companies that have benefited from increasing population growth and density in targeting the large numbers of lower-income groups. Hence, population growth in Africa and other underdeveloped regions is necessary to achieve sustained economic welfare and save people living below the poverty line.[3] From a utilitarian perspective, the benefits of having a child outweigh the environmental cost. Therefore, it is ethical to have a child.[4]

Counter arguments

People are not only producers. They are also consumers. Whatever else they are (genius or dunce, producer or drag on the economy), each person is also a consumer. This claim is enough on its own in order to be worried about climate change.[1] The problem is that we have a finite resource: The ability of the Earth’s atmosphere to absorb greenhouse gases without violently disrupting the climate is limited. Each additional person contributes to the total amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Although we need brilliant people to develop technology to remove carbon from the air, the solution to this is not to have as many babies as possible. The hope that this raises our probability of solving the problem is not logical because each baby is also an emitter, whether a genius or not.[1] An objection to the argument regarding economic growth is again the finiteness of the world’s resources. An economy that requires infinite growth to be healthy will suffer in a world of finite resources. If the economies cannot survive slowing or even reversing population growth, then humans are in some trouble no matter what. The population cannot grow forever. We should reflect on how to protect the economy while working toward a sustainable population.[1]

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://theconversation.com/bioethicist-the-climate-crisis-calls-for-fewer-children-65014
  2. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-we-need-population-growth-and-where-to-put-it/
  3. https://blogs.worldbank.org/africacan/can-rapid-population-growth-be-good-for-economic-development
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330323656_The_Utilitarian_Stigma_of_Environmental_Protection
This page was last edited on Monday, 9 Nov 2020 at 03:07 UTC