Many a young women has looked inside herself, decided that she just doesn’t want kids, and went on to live her life under that assumption. But a decade or so later, her biological clock suddenly went off and she found herself very much wanting kids. I’ve seen this happen several times. None of us should be very confident about what introspection tells us we will later want. Evolution has designed us to express different genes at different ages; we just can’t know what future genes we have been designed to express.
As humanity's most luminous beacon of truth, science provides us with a last best hope for the survival of life as we know it on Earth. We must make certain that scientific evidence is never downplayed, distorted and denied by religious dogma, politics or ideological idiocy.
Let us not fail for another year to acknowledge extant research of human population dynamics. The willful refusal of many too many experts to assume their responsibilities to science and perform their duties to humanity could be one of the most colossal mistakes in human history. Such woefully inadequate behavior, as is evident in an incredible conspiracy of silence among experts, will soon enough be replaced with truthful expressions by those in possession of clear vision, adequate foresight, intellectual honesty and moral courage.
Hopefully leading thinkers and researchers will not continue supressing scientific evidence of human population dynamics and instead heed the words of Nobel Laureate Sir John Sulston regarding the emerging and converging, human-driven global challenges that loom ominously before humankind in our time, “we’ve got to make sure that population is recognized.... as a multiplier of many others. We’ve got to make sure that population really does peak out when we hope it will.”
Sir John goes on, “what we want to do is to see the issue of population in the open, dispassionately discussed.... and then we’ll see where it goes.”
In what is admittedly a feeble effort to help John Sulston fulfill his charge to examine all available scientific evidence regarding human population dynamics, please give careful consideration to the following presentation and then take time to rigorously scrutinize the not yet overthrown science from Russell Hopfenberg and David Pimentel regarding human population dynamics and human overpopulation.
Please accept this invitation to discern the best available science of human population dynamics and human overpopulation; discover the facts; deliberate; draw logical conclusions; and disseminate the knowledge widely.
Thanks for pursuing my comments Psychohistorian, slow for the slow reply.
I can only agree with you as I was expressing a position was not my own.
In a recent September post (Painless Meat) Robin referred to the piece he had written on the subject of the ethics of meat eating.
Putting aside whether or not the age old philosophical debate on vegetarianism is right or wrong, I found the arguments Robin presented to be atrocious.
In short, he creates a moral premise that is devoid of circumstance, intention and consequence. Even strict economics needs to take such matters into account. I would have let it go as a fluke since he wrote it in 2002, but this problematic thinking keeps rearing itself today in posts such as this one and others on nature and population.
While I did ratchet up the rhetoric a notch to catch some attention, I didn't stray far from his position. For the most part, I swapped out a few words and even kept much of the language structure. I didn't even have to construct an analogy to animals since in Robin's piece he established the good of bringing humans into existence as an unequivocal good in it's own right.
I think this article made some interesting points, I read a textbook directly related to this topic, its called The Hutterites in North America by , I found my used copy for less than the bookstores at http://www.belabooks.com/bo...
Historically, this is simply false, at least once you have agriculture.
Once you get agriculture, your kids become employees rather than liabilities quite quickly, and you need as many as you can to survive into adulthood so you can marry them off, expand your land holdings, and have someone to take care of you in your old age. Your kids may be worse, because all 9 of them only inherit your property and maybe their spouse's, but you're better off. The farmers getting pushed onto marginal land were likely sons that didn't inherit much, not fathers who had too many kids.
To RH: Better threading, please!
First, we should have an unbelievably powerful norm and law against suicide. If everyone believes they'll go straight to hell to be tortured for all eternity if they want to commit suicide, or tortured here and now if they fail, then no one will desire committing suicide, and everyone's life will, as I understand your definition, be worth living, no matter how we abuse and enslave them. I admit the law claim may be faulty, but the hell claim seems valid.
Second, do you actually live by what you say morality dictates? If not, why not?
Third, who's worse off when people fail to procreate? The not-born? The not born don't exist - they don't even not-have utility curves, they don't even not-have anything. "People get value out of being alive" is generally true. But you can't compare people to unpeople - "12 > (1/0)" isn't true - it's nonsense.
Fourth, if you take existence as a prerequisite, high-pop poor world is much, much less preferable than low-pop rich world. Everyone born into rich world will be much more excited about it than everyone born into poor world. If everyone is happier about being in rich world, how is poor world preferable? If you don't take existence as a prerequisite, there's no "you" to ask the question to.
Fifth, I do admit that if your terminal value is aggregate total utility, and you quantify everyone who is alive and non-suicidal as possessing positive utility by definition, the repugnant conclusion is not repugnant and is probably inescapable - assuming of course that that new life-worth-living does not negatively effect others enough to outweigh its existence. I'm assuming you value a million super-happy people over a million and one super-depressed but not quite suicidal people.
This is tangential, but demographic transition is not the consequence of mere wealth or "boom times," but something more specific in the industrial revolution. Colonists to North America responded to that form of wealth by rapid expansion.
His argument is that population growth will be limited only by survival, that future people will return to subsistence-level lives.
I do assume that, and have a (fully written down) population ethics somewhat between average and total utilitarianism - which has its own wierdnesses, of course, but not that many, and I can live with them. It also has the usual assymetry between "not creating a being" and "destroying a being", so I see no net grain to bringing a barely-happy child into a world of happy people.
A _very_ important question is whether the inclination to have more children is heritable enough to overcome the cultural and wealth changes that will take place over evolutionary time periods.
We'd be more confident that the ascendancy of memetic evolution will be long-term if we could name other cases where the blind urge to reproduce had been enduringly subliminated to the needs of other replicating systems. Here's a list: http://knowinghumans.net/20...
Certainly for hunting and fishing, but agriculturalists tended to prefer larger families because the physical labor of the family and it's animals drove the farm. Young males were the most prized object of reproduction because they would output the most physical work, yet children and adults of both sexes were used extensively (child labor was the cultural norm for thousands of years before the industrial revolution). The more strong sons you had, the more food you made and the richer you were.
The economic reward for reproducing farm labor diminished significantly with hydrocarbons. A single tractor can output more energy than an entire clan pulling on a rope. A modern farm has no need of child labor, in fact, it requires expert adult labor. The modern farmer is not a store of animal energy, but rather an engineer and factory forman. He drives chemical and mechanical production using techniques that vastly outstrip his inbuilt hominid abilities to make plants grow.
He has no need to reproduce to increase production, indeed, he could even choose not to reproduce at all and still operate the farm. Whether or not our modern farmer John reproduces is not a matter of capital, but of personal preference. If he does, it will probably be 2.2 times with a female he met well over ten years after he reached sexual maturity.
whereby after nations get rich population growth rates eventually fall dramatically
Cuba 1.66 children born/woman (2006 est.)North Korea 2.09 children born/woman (2006 est.)USA 2.1 children born/woman (2008 est.)
Wealth is just one factor. Socialism and urbanization are also important factors.
People get value out of being alive. If you do not want to commit suicide than you value being alive.
If so, the consequence of having children, rather than not having children, is good; you create people whose lives are worth living. And thus the consequence of not having offspring rather than procreating is, by comparison, bad. So if you, like me, think your actions are more moral when you do more good for others, you should agree with me that having as many children as possible is moral, and abstinence, condoms, birth control, and abortion are immoral.
For women, multiple in vitro pregnancy births should be the first option really, like Octomom, all her children have lives worth living. It’s okay if such mass pregnancies risk birth defects or retardation because those children will have lives worth living. The risk of stillborns or infants that can’t survive is outweighed by the value of lives from the many others born; besides people die eventually anyway. For men, rape is good, don’t torture the woman, just don't confuse lack of kindness with cruelty; you’ll do more good by making lives with value than otherwise.
Robin seems to have missed the role of prices as a factor partially determining fertility. If a small group doubles every century, it makes little impact on prices. If it grew to be half the population, its next doubling would affect prices (mainly of the capital that every worker needs). Any decent model of fertility would acknowledge a role for economic context.
As I understand it, Prof. Hanson's argument against economic growth continuing indefinitely is that there just aren't enough atoms in the universe for this to happen. Wouldn't the same hold for population growth?