Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Another gem from “The Stone”

Philosophy professor Christine Overall directs the following appeal to the readers of “The Stone,” the NYT philosophy blog: “Think Before You Breed.” Under this heading, she is “arguing for the need to think systematically and deeply about a fundamental aspect of human life.” Prof. Overall believes that as far as kids are concerned, “the burden of proof – or at least the burden of justification – should … rest primarily on those who choose to have children, not on those who choose to be childless.” Why? Because “the choice to have children calls for more careful justification and thought than the choice not to have children because procreation creates a dependent, needy, and vulnerable human being whose future may be at risk.” Therefore, “the individual who chooses childlessness takes the ethically less risky path.” As I was reading this, I had two thoughts. First, the continued marginalization of academic philosophers in the Anglo-Saxon world, and the spread of these best practices to less advanced societies in the coming decades, may be essential to human procreation. Second, the Athenians who condemned Socrates for the kind of critical thinking he championed probably knew what they were doing. Pity they acted too late, only after their beloved city had fallen to the dumb Spartans.