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It is morally irresponsible to procreate in lieu of adoption.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/13/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,870 times Debate No: 30257
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
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My claim is that it is morally irresponsible not to adopt if you are planning to adopt and are legally able to adopt. There are millions of children suffering around the world, some on the brink of death, that could be adopted. Knowing this, if a couple plans to procreate it is morally irresponsible because it ignores the suffering and deaths of millions of children around the world. While the appeal of procreation is certainly understandable, the novelty of a biological child does not outweigh the necessity of providing a household for children who need it. A child unborn to the world will have no idea what it is missing since it is not alive. However, living children are aware of their deplorable conditions and that they could be adopted into better conditions. The aspiring parents of the world who do not plan to adopt are comparable to people who would come across a child dying of starvation, thirst, disease, etc. and do nothing to help the child.


First of all, we have to define the term "moral responsibility" in order to determine whether procreation is moral or immoral. I believe a moral responsibility would comprise actions that are viewed as wrong in the perspective of society should they not be fulfilled. For example, I believe that reporting the witnessing of a father abusing his child is a moral responsibility because if it were known to the community that I knew about said child abuse and did NOT report it, I would be viewed as "in the wrong" by that community.

So we have to ask ourselves if society would see a couple trying to have a baby as "in the wrong". The answer is of course not. If you think that procreation is immoral then I would have to say that either you are an irrational human being or you are unbelievably judgmental. I acknowledge that there are children suffering around the world, but there is more than one way to combat this problem. Adopting a child is an extreme that many people might not be willing to go to for many different reasons.

Please allow me to refute some of your arguments specifically. You say "[procreation] ignores the suffering and deaths of millions of children around the world." Most people in Western civilization recognize that many children in less privileged parts of the world are suffering. Procreation does not preclude this recognition. In fact, many biological parents have probably saved more lives with charitable donations than you would ever be willing to adopt.

You say "the novelty of a biological child does not outweigh the necessity of providing a household for children who need it". Procreation is not a "novelty", it is an evolutionary necessity. If you have ever studied evolution, you would know that continuing our own bloodlines is a behavior that is literally inscribed in our genes.

While I can concede that those parents who do decide to adopt are inspiring, to say that it is morally irresponsible not to adopt is just simply not true.
Debate Round No. 1


For the sake of argument, I'm going to accept your morality as the template for this debate.

The child abuse example in your argument is no different from seeing a child living in conditions not suited for a child's well-being. If a child is starving in the street and a passerby had food that could be given to said child, but chose not to and allowed the child to starve, that would certainly be viewed as "wrong" by the community. It isn't a matter of who or what is harming the child's life; it is matter of whether or not the child's life is being harmed at all. If a child's well-being is being harmed and a person has the capability to help the child, he or she has the moral responsibility to do so lest they be branded a heartless villain ruled by his greed to keep his money, time, resources, etc. to himself.

Regardless of whether or not society sees a couple trying to having a baby as "in the wrong," there is still an opinion that most reasonable people would support. Even if the the majority of the world supported the idea of slavery, slavery would and should still be viewed as wrong since it violates human rights.

While I acknowledge that there is more than one way to help the suffering children of the world other than adoption, there is nothing stopping people from choosing more than one way. A couple who adopts a child is free to send money to a charity that supports underprivileged children, give their time and effort volunteering at a foster home or orphanage, or both. But of those three options (there are undoubtedly more), adoption is the one that would most benefit the child.

Adopting is not an extreme. It is literally the same thing as having a biological child aside from the method of acquisition.

Procreation stands in direct opposition to helping children who need to be adopted. The resources that go into raising a child that was planned could also be used to raise an adopted child. Choosing to procreate increases the number of resources needed to care for every child around the world, whereas adoption does not.

The novelty of procreation that I was referring to were the reasons why people would choose to procreate over adopt. Some like the idea of passing on their genes to their young ones. While this is understandably appealing, this novelty of having a small copy of oneself does not justify ignoring the needs of already-existing children.

Human behavior absolutely fuels the desire to procreate. However, not every bit of human behavior should be tolerated. A man who sees an attractive woman should not be or feel free to have sex with her at his leisure simply because of a human impulse to mate. If he did, this would lead to rape, assuming the woman does not give her consent to some unknown man who suddenly attempts to have sex with her. My point here is that not every bit of human nature is beneficial to society. Some are just the opposite, and these bits of human nature that are detrimental to society should not be tolerated. The consequences of choosing to tolerate these would lead to innocent civilians being placed at the receiving end of crimes and a disharmonious society where humans run rampant acting on their every impulse.

The only exception to adoption over procreation would be if every child who needed to be adopted was adopted. The biological desire not to let the species die out would demand that new humans be created via procreation. But this circumstance is one that the world is very far away from. Until such a circumstance comes about, procreation should be considered to be morally irresponsible.


When you say "The child abuse example in your argument is no different from seeing a child living in conditions not suited for a child's well-being", you are comparing a response (calling child services) to an antecedent (seeing a child in deplorable conditions). They can not be compared in a meaningful way.

If what you mean to compare is the two proposed responses (calling child services for child abuse vs adopting a child) then they are absolutely different. What you are doing is failing to realize that there is a real difference in the cost to undertake each of these actions. Calling child services cost you 25 cents for a one minute phone call and 10 minutes of your life to look up the number and make the call. Adopting a child as a substitute for having a biological child is a life-long and irreversible commitment. You might say that a biological child is also a life-long irreversible commitment, but there are real physical and psychological differences between the two.

You mention "If a child is starving in the street and a passerby had food that could be given to said child, but chose not to and allowed the child to starve, that would certainly be viewed as "wrong" by the community". I can not speak for the community in the absence of any formal data, but I can appreciate that this is probably true; however, your original argument is that we should not only feed the child in passing by but we should also take him into our home and give up our ability to procreate. Its just not the same thing.

You postulate that people have "the moral responsibility to [adopt] lest they be branded a heartless villain ruled by his greed to keep his money, time, resources, etc. to himself". If you accept this is as true then you must also accept that every single person in the civilized world who has had a child, including your own parents, assuming they had the capability to adopt, has been branded as heartless villains by society. If we actually polled society with the question "Do you believe all biological parents in the civilized world are heartless villains?", do you really think the data would support this hypothesis?

You say that "Even if the the majority of the world supported the idea of slavery, slavery would and should still be viewed as wrong since it violates human rights." This is a contradictory statement, as you could define "wrong" (in a moral context) as something not supported by the majority of the population. So by definition, if most people supported slavery, it would not be viewed as wrong. You might ask then why did slavery exist if we see slavery as wrong in society. The answer is that morality is a construct of man which can change over time and is only a product of learning. In pre-civil war America, slavery was abundant because it was not considered morally wrong at that time.

You feel that "there is nothing stopping people from choosing more than one way." This is true. In fact, if you so choose, you could send every dime you earn to starving children and devote 100% of your time to ridding the world of famine. By anyone's standards, these actions would be considered well above and beyond any definition of moral responsibility. There must be a line somewhere between moral responsibility and altruism. You are suggesting that there is no distinguishable difference between the two.

You believe "[adoption] is literally the same thing as having a biological child aside from the method of acquisition." No, it is literally not the same thing. In any measure of comparison, be it biological, psychological, sociological or any other "ogical". It would be ignorant not to acknowledge these differences. You then go on to say that "this novelty of having a small copy of oneself does not justify ignoring the needs of already-existing children." As I have already stated, the desire to procreate is far from a "novelty". Most reasonable people would consider having a genetic descendant a relevant and significant factor.

I agree that certain behaviors which were evolved in a completely different world are no longer beneficial to individuals or the human race. We have to resist our biological nature using learned methods of self-control. Your hypothesis may, in the the future, become true as our moral code continues to move further away from our evolutionary origins, just as our culture continues to change; however, at this specific point in time, I do not believe adoption of starving children falls under the moral code in any nation.

Your arguments support the fact that adoption over procreation is no doubt worthy of approval, however you have not supported that procreating would violate our moral code under society's current standards.
Debate Round No. 2


The comparison is perfectly valid as they both involve a course of action in response to seeing a child in need of aid.

I will agree that between these two examples, the phone call to child services would be significantly less of a commitment that adopting a child. However, the only reason a person would not adopt the child is because of a selfishly-motivated reason such as wanting to save money. Now if the person could not afford to pay for the child, it is understandable that the person in question would not adopt the child. But for aspiring parents with the money, resources, parental and legal capability to adopt the child, they do not have a valid excuse for opting not to do so. Because their only reasons for not adopting would originate from a concern with the self rather the child, it perfectly fits the definition of selfishness, a quality that is condemned by the general public. The only reason why significantly few people opt to adopt now is due to their greed overwhelming their sense of morality.

Given that this hypocritical piece of human behavior exists, it would stand to say that all parents who could have adopted, but did not, are guilty of exercising their selfishness (procreating and increasing the number of children needed to be cared for despite children already in need) and showing an unwillingness to do something good (reducing the number of children in need). People who would refute this are simply in denial. Whether their reason is because they are parents of biological children and are trying to defend themselves, or aspiring parents who want to have a biological child for the novelty (I will lay it out clearly what that means further on) is irrelevant; the evidence to support this claim is laid out clearly as if it were a mathematical equation, which it basically is.

Regarding the slavery example, slavery actually would have been considered to be immoral at the time of pre-civil war America. Given that the number of slaves per state generally equaled, and in some cases surpassed, the number of slave owners during that time, slavery would have been considered immoral by the majority of humans living in said time and place. And beyond slave owners, there undoubtedly would have been free non-slave owners who would have opposed slavery. Even during that time, human rights were valued as being something that every human should have without exception. But due to either a lack of knowledge of basic biology or a desire to deny the truth of it, slaves were undoubtedly human. This would mean that the average citizen did oppose slavery, but lived in the mindset that slaves were not human despite being so, which is yet another example of hypocrisy justifying a disregard for morality.

There is no distinguishable difference between altruism and moral responsibility. Altruism is in of itself a moral behavior. Altruism, or selflessness, by nature is the opposite of selfishness. While selflessness is valued by the morality of the general public, selfishness is frowned upon as being morally wrong. The only thing stopping people from being altruistic all the time is either selfishness or incapability. The majority of people alive are not altruistic all the time. It is because that this is "normal" that people do not condemn selfishness in every instance. But this is just another example of the hypocrisy of greed overwhelming human morality. An honest person would be able to admit that succumbing to one's wants is selfish while knowing that they are selfless acts that could be performed.

What I referred to was the parental experience. The timeline of raising a child is, for the most part, still the same aside from the acquisition. But I will acknowledge that their are some differences. Not necessarily in the functioning of the family, but still some. But these differences do not justify aspiring parents to turn their backs on children who are need of families.

Now regarding the "novelty" mini debate, procreation is a novelty. The desire to have a genetic descendant is just that, a desire. A person does not need to have a biological child. They will not perish should they never procreate. The only reasons a person would prefer to procreate are to continue the bloodline, experience the pregnancy process, or pass on their genes in hopes that the offspring will be similar to the parent(s). These are all novel reasons. None of them serve any practical use in the world. The desire to have a child can still be fulfilled by adopting one. Even if the desire to procreate is evolutionary (which I also believe it is), until it becomes a biological necessity, it is still a novelty.

Humans are just as much animals as cats and dogs. Not that we have fur coats or anything like that, but we do fall into the definition of "animal." We humans have put it upon ourselves to try to put an end to the deaths of animals because of lack of resources. The primary method of this goal is spaying and neutering. Because we humans recognize that there are more animals than people and resources able to care for them, spaying and neutering are necessary. Knowing this, the average citizen would agree with the rule of spaying and neutering pets so as to not add more pets to be cared for than there are already. In this example, we can see observable evidence that would support the claim that humans are for the idea of no animal dying due to lack of resources. Because humans are also animals, this perspective or morality would apply to us as well. But because the average human views itself as being "above" animals, they seek to justify its desire to carelessly procreate as it sees fit. In this instance, we see both an example of defending the ego overwhelming human morality and of greed overwhelming morality.

In short, because humans try to justify their own wants by using greed common to most humans to override their own morality, we can see that humans are in fact in violation of their own moral code. An honest person would be able to admit this trait in human psychology exists and that procreation over adoption would be seen as morally irresponsible if the human population were capable of being honest with itself.


Selfishness is not an absolute. The principles of psychological egoism would say that all decisions are selfish in nature to some extent or another. I would argue that selfishness is only condemned when it exceeds a reasonable threshold. I believe that some level of selfishness is not only accepted, but even expected to some level by society. This is evident by the overwhelming agreement that capitalism is superior to communism (at least in fundamental principles). Capitalism is fundamentally selfish, yet it is not condemned by society, but rather it is promoted by society. It does not stand to reason that everything that is selfish must be condemned by our moral code.

Even if your statistical claim about the ratio of slaves to slave-owners is true (as I see no citation), it is only valid under the assumption that all slave-owners are pro-slavery and all non-slave-owners are anti-slavery, which is obviously not the case. Those who could afford slaves had slaves, and those who could not afford slaves, probably wanted slaves. It is common knowledge that the general attitude of the public (not just slave-owners) before the start of civil war was a stance of pro-slavery. It was not considered immoral at the time. Furthermore, I could point out that that there was slavery 4000 years before the civil war. My point was that morals are not absolute, and neither are they static. I simply pointed to the civil war as an example of an instance where our moral code changed. Its very plausible that you could support something seemingly innocuous in your own life right now that will be considered immoral in a thousand years from now. Perhaps if this argument were proposed at some point in the future, I would be arguing for the other side, but we are discussing the current moral code, not that of the future.

You propose "The majority of people alive are not altruistic all the time. It is because that this is "normal" that people do not condemn selfishness in every instance." There are good reasons why it is not "normal" to be altruistic all the time. It is not healthy, nor realistic, nor even possible to take the selfless act in every situation. We do have to choose our moments, so-to-speak, and that is exactly the difference between altruism and moral responsibilities. Society would call most of my colleagues morally responsible. They do good when its called upon them by the moral code. Most of them are not, however, altruistic, as most people aren't.

People don't neuter their dogs to end the rampant canine famine problem (that was sarcasm in case you didn't catch it). People neuter their dogs so they don't have to pay for ten more dogs down the road. It's a completely selfish act and it has nothing to do with the animal population as a whole.

Our primary disagreement (among others) seems to me to be the division between altruism and moral irresponsibility. You seem to have the need to fit everything under one category or the other. According to your arguments, if some act is not altruistic, it is the act of a "heartless villain". To do so is to throw all context out as irrelevant. Such a way of thinking is truly a very narrow-minded perspective. On the other hand, I have demonstrated, followed by your admittance, that not all selfish acts are condemned, or considered "wrong" by society and that procreation in lieu of adoption is such an act. If you still accept our original definition of moral irresponsibility, then I have clearly demonstrated that it is not morally irresponsible to procreate in lieu of adoption.

I would like to thank my opponent for a surprisingly holistic discussion. I am always welcome to a new perspective. I suppose if I subscribed to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, my idea of self-actualization would be the day I could effortlessly empathize with another persons world view.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by No-this-is-patrick 4 years ago
He updated the title, before it was different wich led me to post my first comment.
Posted by No-this-is-patrick 4 years ago
That sounds even more "silly" because if you are planning to MAKE one, why miss the enjoyement of it and why not experience the "miracle of life" firsthand? jk.
Posted by philochristos 4 years ago
I think what he's saying is that if you're planning to be a parent by procreating, then you should adopt instead. It's better to adopt somebody who is already in existence than to bring somebody new into existence.
Posted by No-this-is-patrick 4 years ago
this does not make any sense. If a parent was PLANNING to adopt, why wouldn't they?
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