See, this is why I passed by the example of China. I happen to agree with Chris that it is a good example of why state control of reproduction is a mistake, but the basic issue is more important than debating the example. The only way such control could work, if at all (which I still doubt) would be under the auspices of an absolute totalitarianism even greater than that in 1970s-80s China. Surely humanists cannot rational advocate for that and still have any claim to our basic policy of valuing the richness of the human experience and the fulfillment of human potential? So either people control their reproduction voluntarily (which, sadly, also seems pretty unlikely to me) or we find a technological fix to the population problem (I am skeptical here, but at least it seems slightly more plausible than voluntary or forced control of reproduction) or we keep fiddling until the place burns down, which seems the most likley. But, the future has a way of surprising people, so rather than give up I say we do the best we can to deal with the problem by education and improvements in standard of living (still the most effective form of population control ever found, though there are concerns about how many people the planet can support at a high enough standard to achieve this effect) and continue to look for ways to emphasize the welfare of human beings while dealing with the environmental consequences of their being too damn many of us. Devil, of course, is in the details, but I think forced sterilization is a non-starter: immoral and impractical.
This is the problem though. This is similar to a recent study that, indirectly was basically claiming that it was “more morally acceptable” to let everyone die than to kill one person.
They were giving tests to people that were along the lines of: If someone puts a gun in your hand and a gun to your head and says that you have to kill one person in a group, or they will kill you and everyone else too, what do you do, etc…
They said that choosing not to personally kill someone and then having you and the whole group get killed is the “more moral” choice.
This is nonsense, that’s no different really than you killing everyone yourself. A choice in which more people die is not a more moral choice.
I also take issue with prison, because I think that prison is by far more damaging and harmful and immoral than corporal punishment.
We view infliction of pain on people as “barbaric” and immoral, yet I doubt that anyone, if given the chance, would choose prison time over a whipping, or electro-shock or some other form of punishment. Would you rather have 10-15 years of your life taken from you, or go through 1 really bad and painful day? I’d take the 1 bad day any time.
Our sense of morality itself is an evolved and flawed mechanism. We weigh immediate concerns over distant ones when making choices, we weight direct personal causation over indirect causation, we weight blood and physically obvious pain over mental or unseen pain.
Yet, in reality, obvious and physical pain can be far less hurtful than unseen pain. Consequences in the future can be far worse than consequences now. Indirect causation is really no different than direct causation.
We are emotionally maladapted to make truly correct moral choices. Our emotions actually impede morality. We will cause greater pain and suffering to to people in backwards attempts to make “moral” choices to reduce pain and suffering.
Animal food is a perfect example. I want to raise my own livestock, chickens, pigs, etc., so that I can ensure that they receive humane treatment. My soon to be wife, however, says that that’s cruel and she will not abide it because killing animals is bad… but she eats meat! She says that it’s okay as long as the food comes shrink wrapped in a plastic container.
She is incapable of making the mental connections between her actions and reality. The animal products that she buys have undoubtedly suffering industrial farming practices. These animals suffer immensely, but she doesn’t see it, so as far as she is concerned it doesn’t happen, and to her, me raising animals for food is “worse” than her buying them in the store.
Now, this isn’t exactly the same, but some of the same mentality comes into effect.
I fail to see how saying “oh well , the world will be destroyed” is “more moral” than liming birth rates.
Our emotional sense of morality is simply incapable of properly dealing with the type of challenges that we face today. Our moral instincts are still set back 100,000+ years ago, for what is right and wrong in small tribal groups.
I don’t think that the issue of reproductive regulation is a huge issue, but making it socially acceptable would require advocacy and education on the matter. I guarantee that if some sect of Christians started preaching regulation of birth rates, it would be widely accepted.
Look at the Catholic Church. If they were to turn around and preach a 3 baby limit instead of “have as many as you can”, this itself could have a huge effect, yet who is holding them to the fire on this issue? They won’t even endorse birth control at all, much less a limit.
cgallaga’s use of the term “castration” is also inappropriate and a perfect example of trying to make the situation worse. Tying someone’s tubes is not a form of “castration”, a word that carries a negative connotation with it.
My mother and one of my sisters have both had their tubes tied voluntarily, though my sister was approached by Planned Parenthood after her 3rd child out of marriage by 3 different fathers, her second time into drug rehab, and her 4th abortion. She was paid to have her tubes tied by PP, and I’m glad for it. Planned Parenthood is one of the few organizations that I donate money to, the only one that is not a specifically atheist oriented one.
My sister no longer has possession of any of her children. One got taken to Mexico by the illegal immigrant that fathered it, one is now being cared for by my mom, and the other is in foster care, and she is in an unknown location, probably being a prostitute for drugs.
“Free parenthood” isn’t all that its cracked up to be.
Now, people are instinctively driven to procreate. Those instincts are now detrimental to the survival and health and quality of life of our species and the planet as s whole.
Doing nothing to address this problem is NOT the “more moral” option, it is an immoral failure to make the hard decision and take the difficult steps that are required to ensure survival and quality of life for future generations.
Edit: Actually it may not have been planned Parenthood that paid for the procedure, I just assumed it was, but now that I think about it, she never said who it was.