Is there a selfless reason for wanting to procreate?

I remember years ago participating in a thread about reasons for having children.

I expressed a view similar to “I want to have kids because of how happy it would make me”

This is on a purely logical level a selfish reason. But I was completely taken aback by the flaming that my views inspired. It bordered on me being called the lowest of the low and more evil than hitler for wanting to inflict life upon another person purely for my own selfish reason.

But with the benefit of a few years of hindsight, what do humans do that isn’t selfish? Are there any selfless reasons for wanting children?

In fact isn’t ensuring that we procreate our PRIMARY reason for existing and therefore our primary urge?

So isn’t hoping that we will be selfless and choose not to procreate a little bit naive?
One actually hopes that life’s douchebags do choose not to have kids, and that life’s heroes do procreate more. Alas not the case.

I suspect these posters are the same sort of people who think giving to charity is a selfish act because it makes you feel good to help the less fortunate. Whatever. :rolleyes:

The only time I can imagine procreation being a *completely *selfless act would be in the population was in decline and you were having children for the continuation of your culture/motherland/family line/the human race. Any other reason is simultaneously selfish and hella sacrifice.

Huh, I had kids because my husband really, really wanted to have kids. Having grown up with three younger brothers and an idiot older brother (just kidding) that I had to take care of all the time I had no desire to have any kids of my own.

Much to my surprise I really, really liked/loved/adored MY kids and still do. Of course my kids were/are ohh such much better than all other kids.:slight_smile: So put me in the column of having a selfless reason to procreate. But also put me into the column: BEST DECISION I EVER MADE:cool::cool::cool:

ETA: Well not entirely selfless, I wanted to make the singuy happy.

Deciding to have kids? Totally selfish. But I imagine that changes once you actually have them.

I don’t recall anybody getting flamed just for wanting to have kids because it would make them happy. There have, however, been many times people have gotten flamed for dismissing the childfree as selfish rotters and then trotting out that they’d have kids because it would make them happy.

And there was one douche several years ago who said he wanted kids because it would be “cool to have a Mini-Me” running around. He got dogpiled for treating hypothetical kids as extensions of himself rather than discrete individuals. He may also have been prattling about how selfish and immature he found people’s reasons not to procreate, but it’s been so long and there have been so many of that sort of thread that I really don’t recall.

Only selfless reason I can come up with is - total human race extinction except for a single guy and Sandra Bernhard.

I might include pressure to continue a family line or grandparents really wanting grandchildren. While I’d consider these as potentially selfless reasons, I’m not saying I consider them good reasons. I suppose it could be argued that you’d only have kids to make your parents happy if it made you happy to make your parents happy, that seems like convoluted reasoning to me. You could probably also apply that to repopulating the earth. After all, does the earth care if it’s overrun with homo sapiens?

The number of people who have kids because they want them out of parental urges/self-gratification is many orders of magnitude higher than the number who genuinely (if deludedly) think they are fulfilling an obligation to society.

So Lobsang’s views are quite mainstream.

Sort of a trick question, because practically everything a person does is either out of some sense of duty or obligation, or for selfish reasons - and either can be used to diminish the significance of any particular decision.

To my mind, by far the more important issue is whether, in one’s dealings with their children and others, one displays inordinate selfishness, or a genuine attempt to balance their needs with one’s own - seeing them as beings with their own purposes, and attempting, as best one can, to foster them.

The morality involved is no different whether one has children or not, but the circumstances of dependence are - children are vulnerable to the actions of parents in a way no-one else is in the normal course of human activities. Thus, parent-hood demands (but sadly does not always receive) a very high level of ethical responsibility, something which is qualitatively different from most other things a person is likely to do.

Thus, it is not in the choice to have children that parents display “selflessness”, but in their day-to-day actions (assuming that they do in fact display selflessness). It is a requirement for being a ‘good’ parent, and it is not generally speaking a requirement for ‘good’ non-parental activities to the same extent because, usually, such activities do not involve a relationship of comparable trust and dependancy. I suppose the closest analogue most non-parents are likely to experience is care for the dying, but even then, selfishness displayed will not have the same dire consequences at the end of a life as at the beginning of one.

It isn’t either/or. Things aren’t either selfless or selfish, they are a mixture of both.

Considering the level of commitment we’re talking about, any “selfless” reason for having children is kinda creepy. I want people to consider themselves, not be martyrs for a cause.

That’s not selfless - it’s selfish to want your family and grandparents off your case, and nobody but you cares whether or not your family line continues. :wink:

There’s no selfless reason for wanting kids. But so what? Wanting something because you want it isn’t a bad thing in and of itself.

The “smart, ambitious” people are not reproducing as fast or as much as everyone else (that study was Europe and the US). Thus, they’re likely to be out-competed by the people whose primary goal is to have children. Now, it might not matter, but it does look awfully like reproductive selection is working against characteristics we don’t want to lose in our population. I’ve heard people at work (I work in biomedical research) talk about this being a problem and wondering what we can do about it, so the institutions are working on how to make academic science more supportive to people who want to reproduce. I’m not saying it’s the only reason I want to have a child, but it’s not implausible and I don’t think it’s a completely selfish reason.

I don’t know if this counts, because it was via in vitro fertilization and not of her own eggs, but this lady in Cleveland just carried her daughter’s triplets to term because her daughter had had an hysterectomy.

to populate the christian army (I’m against)

Ah yes, the “Idiocracy” theory again.

I think wanting to exert some control over the makeup of the future population might be selfish. The goal is to bring humanity a tiny bit more in line with your preferences, right?

The problem as I see it is that there are few human acts which are “not selfish” in some manner or other, so dividing human acts into “selfish” and “not selfish” is pointless.