The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
2 Points

Having children is unethical

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/5/2016 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 7 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 418 times Debate No: 87719
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (1)




I aim to show that it is in general unethical to have children.

First, having children contributes to population growth. The world's population is projected to reach 10 billion by 2100, and Earth can support 10 billion people if everyone is eating nothing but grains. It would only support 2.5 billion if everyone were eating like Americans are eating now [1]. This is assuming we don't find a way to drastically increase the human lifespan, and we very well might. Either way, there would be little land left for wildlife. And the bigger the population gets, the faster the earth will be destroyed by man-made climate change.

Second, there are already 150 million children in the world without parents [2]. Adults who want to have children could do better by adopting. Although the current systems various countries have in place for adoption are immensely expensive and inefficient, making it difficult for them to find homes for even a small fraction of the total number of orphans, a sea change in society's attitudes about family, children, and adoption could make such programs unnecessary. The first step is doing away with the stigma on adoption and leading by example, thus increasing the demand for adoptive services.

Finally, the act of having children is inherently a selfish act. People have children because they want children, not because they expect that the children (who do not yet exist) want to be born. Most people alive today are glad they were born, but none of them have any idea what it would have been like to not be born, so they don't really know. Life is short and tragic, so it may well be that it is unethical to create a person who must endure the suffering of life and, someday, the heartbreak of death.



SIDE NOTE - Given there are only 24 hours to respond and I am currently studying for the SAT's, I apologize in advance for any accidental forfeiture due to the business of my schoolwork.

As I am not sure how my opponent wished to format the debate, I will start as such:

First, I will explain the importance of family as a value.
I will also supply definitions in this section as well.

Second, I will refute my opponent's contentions.

Lastly, I will provide my own.

Good luck to my opponent!

Family is basic and natural to human existence. Clearly, it is closer to the natural state of mankind than any other social organization. Indeed, some argue that the family is more intrinsic than the individual. Children, the beginning form of any adult, are born with an intrinsic need for their parents. This need exists prior to the need to express one's individuality or to fulfill one's aspirations, proving that having children and developing a family is the first and foremost value. Furthermore, the family is fundamental to the development of other values in people. It is the family which has the greatest influence on the development of the future members of society. Of all the social institutions, it is the family which is the most resilient. History has overthrown or changed other institutions; the family has remained relatively the same since the start of mankind.

As my opponent has not offered any definitions in the first argument, by formal rules of debate, all definitions given by the opposing council (me) are flowed through the entire round and are not eligible for refutation. No other definitions, for any words, may be brought up past the point of the introductory arguments.[1]

Ethics is defined as:

"The rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group or culture." [2]

Children is defined as:

"a person between birth and full growth;" [3]

Having is defined as:

"to hold, possess, or accept in some relation, as of kindred or relative position:" [4]

Thus, for Pro to win the debate, he must prove that having children goes against the rules of conduct to a particular class of human actions or a particular group or culture. However, as both of my opponent's contentions (and therefore his whole argument) are based on worldwide numbers and consequences, the "particular group or culture" is defaulted to all of humanity. Having children is also not specifically biologically giving birth, so since we must accept my definitions by rules of debate, "having children" also includes adoption.

The first two of Pro's contentions go against morality, what is right and what is wrong, rather than going against the rules of conduct of humanity (ethics). As I have explained in my opening paragraph, having a family is part of he natural conduct of human civilization, and thus is entirely ethical no matter how great the population is. His second contention is also completely refuted because it goes against the definition of this debate of having children.

His last argument is philosophical in nature, stating that having children is selfish. However, as I stated in my opening paragraph, family is the natural state of human civilization. It also is based on an opinion, "Life is short and tragic", which does not apply the entire population of the world (which is the group that is defined for this debate), and thus is an invalid contention.

Given the limited character amount, my only contention I offer is that family is a natural process, and thus is the fundamental conduct of human life, therefore verbatim following the rules of something being ethical. The instinctive process embedded in humans due to years of evolution and natural selection is to have children, and is self-evidently an ethical choice.

Debate Round No. 1


I'm not sure where these "formal rules of debate," which you have used to defeat my argument on technicality, came from. It doesn't matter. They are not the official rules of and I did not agree to them.

The purpose of a definition is to prevent misunderstanding. My resolution, "Having children is unethical," is perfectly clear and unambiguous, and yet you have attempted to define it using bizarre, obscure definitions which are obviously a deliberate sabotage of my message.

A reasonable definition of "ethical" is something like "morally good; correct; avoiding activities that harm people or the environment." I don't think there could possibly have been any confusion about this. To say that something is ethical just because that's what people do or have always done is nonsense. Therefore, in order to show that having children is ethical, you would have to show not only that it has always been done, but that it is worth continuing.

I hold that my first and second arguments have yet to be refuted.


I thank my opponent for his response.

I gave my source to these rules, which comes from a prestigious national debate association, however I would gladly provide more evidence for this debate rule should my opponent demand it. Semantics is an essential part to any debate, and there is ample evidence to this rule. The official rules for never specify the rules of the debate outline, and thus you should look towards this rule in this debate because it is an official rule to all forms of debate (as proved through the evidence provided in my subsequent argument) while my opponent is simply arguing that, since it is not mentioned on the website, rules concerning national debate requirements and conduct should be ignored.

All of these words that my opponent has used can have multiple contexts. "Having children" is not birth-specific, as my definition explains. Those who adopt a child, or anyone adult who has a child in a family (whether it is of biological relation or not), would logically describe themselves as having children. My definition comes from, one of the most popular online dictionaries, and clearly should at least be considered (Even if you choose to not to agree to the official rules of debate that explain that the definition given by Con, in the event that Pro does not provide any during his/her first argument, must therefore be accepted without refutation, you must choose my definition because it comes from a reputable source.).

Something that is ethical is not always moral, nor are moral things inherently ethical. As explained on the notorious Diffen website (which is sourced in my earlier argument), ethics derive from the societal systems and norms, while morals are an internal, individual concept. This is an important note, as the societal systems for all of human history has been foundationally family units. Before all else, humans have traveled and lived in accordance to biological, familial tribes. Thus, as I have explained in my opening argument (which has not yet been refuted, along with all of my contentions), family is the most important human and societal organization, and is the most primitive form of society itself. So thus, when we look to something that is "unethical", we must look towards something that would be unsupported by societal systems and go against societal norms, both of which are foundationally family. Clearly, as the Darwinian evidence of years of evolution and survival of the fittest proves, family is the most important societal value and thus not having children would directly go against the views and norms of society itself, therefore, again, having children is verbatim following the lines of "ethical".

My opponents arguments have been refuted due to the rules of debate definitions. And, in the event that the voters do not choose to accept the rules defined by a national debate association, I am still winning the debate because my opponent has yet to mention and refute any of my points, while instead only focusing on defending his. I have managed to both recrystalize my arguments and refute his, while he has only done the former.

Therefore, you must vote Pro.
Debate Round No. 2


"I gave my source to these rules, which comes from a prestigious national debate association, however I would gladly provide more evidence for this debate rule should my opponent demand it."

It is nonsense to talk about "evidence" for a rule. Any rule that is not agreed upon by all parties is not a rule.

"All of these words that my opponent has used can have multiple contexts."

Of course words can have multiple contexts, but in the context of my argument, there is only one context! I challenge anyone to read my opening statement and be confused about what I meant by "unethical," "having," or "children." Oy vey!

A good debate is not only a competitive exercise, but a cooperative one. We must both at least make some effort to understand what the other is trying to say. Instead, you have put in considerable effort to twist my message and sabotage the debate. That is both irresponsible and disrespectful, both to me and to the people out there who may have actually wanted to know whether they ought to have children.


I apologize; I considered that standard debate rules were already agreed upon by both parties.

You are right, for your argument you want a specific context: that is why you must define words at the beginning of the first argument! Otherwise it is left to the other party to create the definitions. "Ethics" is a philosophical context that needs to be defined in the debate. "Having children" is self-explanatory, however my definition simply implies that having children is not always a biological process.

I apologize if I have come off as disrespectful or irresponsible. However, as I have said before, semantics is a crucial part to the debate and is listed as an important fact in the DDO introductory guide. I have put in effort to create an argument on semantics and state my contention in regards to the debate as whole ("my only contention I offer is that family is a natural process, and thus is the fundamental conduct of human life..."). As I have stated before using a reputable source, ethics is told in regards to an entire social group while morals (which are not in the resolution) is an individual compass. The entire social group at hand in this debate, humanity, obviously accepts and has been proven through years of evolution to be a natural, accepted process. It is ingrained in our DNA to have children and reproduce, and so while in the future it may be considered immoral to have children, it will always be ethical, an accepted social conduct.

My opponent states that it was disrespectful "both to me and to the people out there who may have actually wanted to know whether they ought to have children." however this makes no sense because all of my opponents contentions are placed on the far future, beyond most of the current voter's lifetime, and thus his argument ALSO doesn't explain why the current audience ought to have children.

And, even if you choose to ignore the semantics argument, my contention has yet to be touched.
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by whiteflame 7 months ago
>Reported vote: QandA// Mod action: Removed<

5 points to Con (Arguments, Sources). Reasons for voting decision: Pro's main arguments were refuted by Con in the first round. Unfortunately Pro then tried to defend his lack of defining rules for the debate rather than dealing with con's points. Truthfully Pro was vague about their specific meanings. Con not only pointed this out but successfully refuted Pro's main points and made points of their own which were not refuted by Pro.

[*Reason for removal*] (1) The voter doesn't explain sources. (2) The voter insufficiently explains arguments, as he has to directly and specifically address specific points made by both debaters.
Posted by whiteflame 7 months ago
>Reported vote: didorus// Mod action: Removed<

5 points to Con (Conduct, S&G, Arguments). Reasons for voting decision: Con wins.

[*Reason for removal*] Not an RFD, just a restatement of the decision.
Posted by whiteflame 7 months ago
>Reported vote: CJames// Mod action: Removed<

6 points to Con (Conduct, Arguments, Sources). Reasons for voting decision: Ethics can be highly subjected, Pro failed to show that his ethical view should apply to everyone. In addition, his argument uses poorly understood, or even misunderstood data that was fairly well rebutted by con. After being cornered in the first round Pro spent a significant portion of the second round refuting rules, instead of debating points, I give the conduct to Con as a result of this. Con provided more sources, and as such I gave sourcing to Con. Con's arguments were based on his own sense of ethics, which Pro failed to show were wrong.

[*Reason for removal*] (1) Source points cannot be awarded based solely on numerical differences. The voter has to do more to explain this allocation. (2) Conduct is insufficiently explained. Arguing something the voter deems irrelevant to the debate is not a conduct violation, as this point applies to issues in how the debaters treat each other or others on the site. (3) Arguments are insufficiently explained. The voter has to do more than simply point out that Pro's argument was faulty, and must specifically analyze Con's argument in the RFD and/or address BoP.
Posted by Theunkown 7 months ago
I don't think the Earth's population is ever reaching 10 billion. Most reports I have read say that the population will reach 9 bil by 2050 and thereafter the population will start declining.
Posted by JT5000killer 7 months ago
Okay instigator, first of all your an idiot, the worlds population would reach that high far before 2100, in fact they estimated that it would reach ten billion by 2056. Second of all, the problem isn't that we are having kids, its that we keep getting better medicine. The main reason that we are overpopulating is because we cant have the fact that humans shouldn't live past eighty years old. That and the fact that we keep trying to help minority races in Africa and other places, the more we help, the more they live. Maybe we should cut down on our birth rates a little bit, but that is by far not the main problem.
Posted by klaralein 7 months ago
Oh, in my last argument I forgot to thank my opponent for the debate and I wish him good luck!
Posted by canis 7 months ago
Battery hens would never lay an egg. But it is what they do. I think ethics. Philosophy and religion stops where life begins, and not the other way around..
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by RainbowDash52 7 months ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
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Total points awarded:02 
Reasons for voting decision: The debate devolved into a semantics debate. Con used sources to support his definitions and Pro didn't.