I would like to start off by saying that I am 25 years old, childless, and plan on remaining childless, although I also freely grant that my feelings on the matter could change.
I’ve heard from childless-by-choice people, sometimes on this board, that when they explain their lifestyle decisions to folks with kids, they are sometimes accused of being “selfish.” Upon first glance, I found the idea that deliberate childlessness is selfish to be ridiculous. It doesn’t hurt anyone, and I think of selfish acts as the type which cause others misfortune for personal gain.
However, probing a bit deeper into the issue, it seems like there are more complex ethical ramifications. My decision to not have children is simply because I don’t want that level of responsibility, and would like to spend the time and disposable income that I would save on things I want. My argument applies to people whose reasons for childlessness are similar to mine; if you want to remain childless so you can devote your whole being to charity work or something like that, the implications are different.
Okay, so I think many people would agree that we as a society have a collective obligation to ourselves and to future generations to preserve the environment to the best of our ability, hence the effort by people of all persuasions to be more “green.” In a similar vein, does the current generation of people of childbearing age and means have an obligation to raise a future generation of productive individuals, both for our own collective benefit and for the future of the human race? Obviously if everyone chose like I did, humanity would be in deep fudge. Also, raising good citizens is a difficult and often thankless job. However, unlike recycling, most people who have children don’t do it out of a sense of societal obligation, but rather because they have a personal desire to.
So, my questions are, do we as a society have a societal obligation to raise productive citizens? If no, do you think we have an obligation to recycle, and if we do have an obligation to recycle, what are the differences between recycling and child-rearing that make one obligatory and the other not?
If you say yes, what are the limits of this obligation? Are people just obliged to produce at a replacement rate? If people like the Duggars effectively have 19+ kids who will contribute positively to the world (or at least neutrally), does that in effect remove the burden of childrearing for 19 people/9 couples?
Or, because of issues of overpopulation, do you think people with means in both the developing and developed worlds should limit their reproduction? If you think this is the case, do they have some other obligation to ensure that the existing children of the world are properly cared for and raised well? Why or why not?
I do believe that there is a general social obligation to produce a productive future generation, but as to the rest of my questions, I’m not sure where I stand . . .