Philanthropy is held to a higher ethical standard than the “gift” of life

November 23, 2011

It’s commonly said that life is a “gift” of some kind, and this misnomer, repeated over and over, is one of the reasons that suicide is considered wrong. Of course, if we mean that life is a “gift” given unselfishly, anyone who has ever fucked can see that there is no sense to the statement at all. But of course, reminding is needed. The fact is that an unselfish gift is held up to incredibly high standards of perfection in our society, standards which are never applied to reproduction.  One main reason for this is that, in a world of such vast disparity of wealth, everyone is always looking for a rationalization not to give to the people below them. Reproduction, however, is basically selfish in a number of ways, both genetically and culturally, and so it is conveniently viewed as self-evidently justified.

For instance, just today I was thinking about sponsoring a child, when I came on this famous article from New Internationalist, criticizing child sponsorship on a number of grounds. There are a number of good points made (though they are inferred or anecdotal, and don’t seem to backed up by any scientific evidence).  The difference between community aid and sponsorship is definitely something I will look into further. More than anything else, however, this article really exemplifies the extreme scrutiny people hold their giving to: a scrutiny that no one applies to starting a family. The reason, of course, is that everyone knows that fucking, gestating, then pushing out a new human, simply because your genes want to reproduce themselves, is in no way a philanthropic gift. Euphamising it as such is just a way of enforcing a taboo on suicide.

Just imagine a world where reproduction were a charitable gift. Can you imagine the scrutiny it would be held to?  Reading the article on sponsorship, we can see that there’s no criticism in it that doesn’t apply to people having their own children.

Take the first criticism: “Helping one identifiable person ALSO Causes divisions and creates more inequality.” Does anyone dispute that almost every action a parent takes with their children is to create more inequality by giving their child more advantages than other children?

Or take another: “Paying for regular information about your own child ALSO Leaves less available for the project.” This “Paying for regular information about your own child” is exactly what parents do, at the expense of orphans around the world. Would this author be willing to complete their preference ranking?

 impersonal aid > sponsorship > parenting

Philanthropic antinatalism is, as I see it, one of the few irrefutable philosophical arguments, and it dare not speak its name. Reproduction is never taken to task to defend itself. One still has to congratulate one’s friends on bringing new life into the world– life which is a harm to already existing orphans who need resources.

In such a situation, wouldn’t it be convenient if aid didn’t work? Wouldn’t it be great for our selfish genes if there were no way of helping? At the end the author makes the dubious claim that the best a potential donor might do is keep their money. How so? What a paradise for genecism! The chances are that such money from potential donors in developed countries will be spent on their own children, who don’t need it. How can this be overlooked?


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