Is it Immoral to Have Children?


By Saif Maqbool

Yes! Why do we even want to have children? Because it’s part of a collective bourgeois fantasy of course, because it makes sense to us to aspire towards careers and mates, to work hard all week and then wake up on Sundays and do yoga or assemble furniture and wonder during fleeting moments whether any of it really means anything at all. Children are a part of this illusion of happiness and fulfillment, just another commodity to be accrued in the lifelong endeavor of masking a guilty conscience. Isn’t bringing a child into the world, subjecting another life to your own failings, and hoping that it is able to endure and surpass them the most selfish thing of all?

Illustration by Kristine Dunn

The birth of a child, you may argue, exceeds any satisfaction that the parent could otherwise obtain. It represents the culmination of empathy, of love, and of the conception of a future. It disseminates unprecedented joy throughout the unit of the family. But life in our time is a veritable bonanza of misery and disappointment, beset as we are by a surplus of mental disorders, by indiscriminate violence, and by derivative Hollywood remakes to which a new generation simply must not be subjected. With the lack of individual autonomy having transcended the domain of subversive opinion to become something akin to conventional knowledge, is it not fair to hold parents accountable for the situations that their children inadvertently encounter? For every poor choice they make off a restaurant menu? For every awkward conversation that they dwell on for a little too long? For every uninformed comment they leave on a website?

Apropos of Freud probably, isn’t the very desire to reproduce oneself an extension of the narcissistic inclinations with which social media has empowered us all? Can the prevention of the countless Instagram posts that are sure to be inspired by the early adventures of little Junior be considered an act of significant humanitarian merit? Sure, you may have the ability to leave your obnoxious little piglet with a gilded nest egg to squander on drugs and ‘acting,’ but what ultimate purpose does that serve?

If you cannot be convinced to adopt the anti-natalist position, at least concede that having of children is the ultimate exercise in self-indulgence, in which people take on considerable emotional and monetary expense just so that they can feel a little less miserable. Or no, maybe it is just a genuine inclination to have a positive impact on the life of another, and maybe you are in fact a ‘good person’ as it were. But can you really have this impact or is your child almost certain to fall prey to a futuristic incarnation of Keeping Up With the Kardashians? Can the child really atone for the sins of the gender-neutral progenitor? Or will they too be trapped in the same vicious cycle that leads to countless generations, all of whom feign pride at their lineage, feel obligated by an abstract social momentum to keep banging the proverbial head against the proverbial wall?


By Isaiah Bennett

Generally speaking, a RATIONAL person would be hard pressed to argue that having children is an immoral thing to do. What ethicist would begrudge a person the opportunity to beget and raise their own flesh and blood? But as I have pondered the various directions in which people take their short, messy lives, it seems to me that making the decision to pop out a small army of babies may be the ONLY moral or rational option that we humans are presented with.

I’d like to approach the matter through a well known thought experiment: the train track problem. If you’re unfamiliar, say that you’re standing alongside a pair of train tracks. On one of the tracks lie five unconscious strangers; on the other track lies one similarly incapacitated fellow. An unstoppable train is about to run onto the track with the group of five people, sending the sleeping people to an untimely end. But you, and you alone, have the option to flip a switch, sending the train onto the other track, saving five men and women but consciously condemning the lone man in the process. One of the two parties will be turned to train track mush. You almost certainly feel pressure to maximize the moral outcome. But independent of your decision to flip the switch or not, you have another option. If human life is the primary commodity which bears moral weight in the above situation, then the most moral of the available options would be to ignore the switch and climb ONTO the train with a number of sexual partners, riding the proverbial love-train through the dilemma and straight into the maternity ward.

Illustration by Kristine Dunn

Certainly, any loss of innocent life is a terrible thing; but why should we waste our time worrying about a choice between two evils when we can get straight to the rectification and replacement of our inevitable loss? Would you rather sit by the tracks, fretting like some pansy academic, or be well on your way to siring a small Wyoming town’s worth of kiddos? Like my Father always recommended: repress the problem, minimize consequences, and get back to being productive. By breeding our way out of the original moral dilemma, we’ve not only recouped our losses but improved on our initial status as well. The potential losses of any possible ethical brain-bender can be assuaged and reversed by simply procreating our way out of the situation. It’s the utilitarian equivalent of getting your cake and eating it too!

Furthermore, these excess children will be used as a workforce and resource during the unrest born in the aftermath of the coming revolution in moral reasoning. Religious institutions will crumble, empires will fall, philosophy departments will burn; I don’t know about you, but at the end of it all I plan to be leading a rogue pack of militant offspring through the streets. With this familial force, the privileged moral class of birthers can consolidate power and complete the evolution of our failing society — with its so-called “moral dilemmas” — into a great, baby-making utopia.

There’s no doubt that in the actuation of this most-moral option lies certain potential issues. For example: the process of mass seduction is wildly energy intensive, and the current medical limit on uteruses per person certainly presents a problem. Acknowledging these roadblocks, I remain confident that the stimulant and pharmaceutical industries will find solutions for these problems in the near future. Consider too the other benefits, like picking the fun names for your thousands of brood, and providing them with the parental support your own parents always denied you. This IS the most moral option, we shall overcome.

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