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

Reproduction is not a rational choice

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/21/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,204 times Debate No: 73933
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (12)
Votes (1)




As the title suggests. If you want to accept just comment, and I'll go ahead and present my argument in the first round so we don't have to waste time with formalities.

I really don't want to include definitions because I don't want this debate to be about meanings of words. We all know what reproduction is and we all know what irrational means. But just so we're clear I'm loosely using this definition: not logical or reasonable.
If you don't want to use that strict definition that's fine so long as we're talking about the same thing/it doesn't detract from the actual debate.


Burden of Proof is on PRO to establish that reproduction is not, under any circumstances, a rational choice. That is, that when people decide to have children, they do not do this on the basis of things such as compatibility, reliability, financial security, or other such factors.

I look forward to seeing what arguments PRO will bring to the table.

My only job in this debate is to refute PRO's argument. If PRO's arguments don't hold up under scrutiny, or fail to affirm the resolution, points for arguments should be awarded to me.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks to con for accepting!

What do I mean when I say reproduction is not a rational choice? I have two arguments, one of which I will rely on more than the other, but both of which deserve consideration.

Argument 1: The consequence of reproduction is having children. No one can know what having children is like until they have had children, which makes the experience total new. (We can have similar experiences by having pets, beings aunts and uncles, and so forth, but we cannot know the full extent of raising children and having to be responsible for them until we have done so.) As a result, we cannot know whether we will like having children or whether we will be good parents.

Argument 2: Before being born, we do not exist. States of nonexistence have no properties, that is, one is not happy or sad or angry because they are not anything at all. Therefore existence is a neutral state (insofar as it is a 'state' at all, which it really isn't - but here we must succumb to the poverty of language). Existence is an active state which can either be good or bad (of course, life is more complex than 'good' or 'bad,' but ultimately we live lives that we consider overall good or overall bad). That information also can only be known retrospectively, which means that anytime we reproduce, we take a big risk. Why do I say that? Because we are 'taking' someone from a neutral state, represented by the number 0, and gambling on the fact that they will be in a positive (+1) state after birth. If we knew ahead of time that they would be in a negative, that is, a -1 state, we surely would not reproduce as it would be cruel. But the fact is that we have no idea a priori whether or not our children will suffer or be happy in life. Certainly one can take steps to try to make their children happy, but if they are born with defects or deformities, or have developmental problems, or become terminally ill (the list goes on), they will almost certainly live all or most of their lives in a -1 state.

But couldn't they also very likely exist in an overall +1 state their entire lives? Doesn't this argument go the other way too - that is, by not having children we are precluding potential good, happy lives from being actualized?

Yes, but that argument is not persuasive for the following reason: happiness is a state of fulfillment. That is, it is something additional to simply existing. That means that happiness is always going to be a process of striving to achieve some end or to pursue some means that make us happy. Before we are born (when we are in a 0 state), we are not deprived of happiness because we have nothing to fulfill. In other words, we don't know what we are missing. So while denying a nonexistent potential person happiness might not add anything to their state of neutral, it also does not take anything away. However, to bring someone from a neutral state into a negative state, that is, a life of suffering, would be to take something away, since suffering is obviously worse than not suffering.

To summarize that point, here are the possibilities for non-existence:

No pain: Good
No happiness: Not bad

Whereas here are the possibilities for existence:

Pain: Bad
Happiness: Good

If everyone has a roughly 50/50 chance of either suffering or being happy in life, then there is an equally likely chance for a bad outcome and an equally likely chance for a good outcome. But by not existing, our chances for a good outcome (that is, not experiencing pain) are 100%, and we are not suffering a loss by not experiencing happiness.

Both of these arguments suggest that reproduction can never be for the sake of our potential children. Argument 1 shows that practically speaking, we cannot know if we will enjoy having children or if we will be good parents. Con might object that we make decisions all the time without the prior experience, to which I would say: yes, but they aren't decisions that will directly affect someone - and even if they DO affect someone else, they very rarely will affect that person for the rest of their lives the way parenthood will.

Argument 2 also shows that there exists a real risk that bringing someone into existence will cause them to leave a neutral state and be thrust into a negative state. While it is also possible that they will be put into a positive state, that is not something that they are being deprived of - it is just an addition - where as the negative state would indeed take something away.

In conclusion, reproduction is a selfish choice that runs a very real risk of negatively affecting someone who was otherwise 'in' a neutral state, and the state that they will be in can only be known retrospectively. Therefore it is not a decision that can be made rationally as it is always a gamble - a gamble for which the odds are not good. Therefore it is not rational.

Thanks again to con, I look forward to his response!



Thank you PRO for submitting your R1 in such a timely manner.


PRO argues:
""That information also can only be known retrospectively, which means that anytime we reproduce, we take a big risk. Why do I say that? Because we are 'taking' someone from a neutral state, represented by the number 0, and gambling on the fact that they will be in a positive (+1) state after birth..."

It is this "gambling" that PRO finds unreasonable. However, the objection this immediately raises is this: under what criteria must we act in order for actions to be rational?
That is to say, in our daily lives, we act with an understanding that certain things will not have a probability of (1). We acknowledge that some things might happen or might not. Most events are contingent. The best we can do is consider the factors we have been able to gather, and reach a decision based on them, in the hopes that the decision we make will have a positive outcome. There is always the possibility that our actions will have a negative outcome, but that is the nature of a world which we (as individuals) have little control over.

PRO"s main point (for both arguments) it seems, is that we can"t be certain of the effects of our actions, and that because of this, our actions in general are irrational. Reproduction in particular. However, not only is this criterion unsupported, it is too general. There is no action to which this criterion does not apply, and as such it is useless, and should thus be rejected out of hand. I will elaborate with an example.

Suppose someone was constructing a grading scale. On this grading scale are only two grades: P and F. P ranges from 0-100, out of a possible 100. F, then, is unnecessary. This grading scale could hardly be considered useful. Everyone gets the same grade, regardless of performance! This is the predicament created by PRO"s argument. For "rational" and "irrational" to be useful terms, there must be some way to distinguish the rational from the not-rational (or irrational). There must, therefore, be a criterion which separates actions and choices into categories of, at least, rational and irrational. (Some actions could be non-rational, like waking up or picking your nose. Such choices and actions don"t fall within the scope of rationality, since there is really no deliberation or consideration necessary for these things. You could simply pick your nose just for the sake of doing so).

Determining Rational Choice
In the comments, PRO gave me an example of a rational choice.
"An example of a rational choice might be something like deciding to go to the grocery store on Tuesday instead of Wednesday because you have less to do on Tuesday and the trip would be faster and more convenient"

This reveals some of the criteria that must be taken under consideration when deciding if a choice is rational or not. There are three which I can identify. I will call them:

  1. 1. Alternatives- Different courses of actions
    1. a. RATHER THAN going on Wednesday, you go on Tuesday

  1. 2. Factors- Reasons, both internal and external, for taking one alternative over another
    1. a. BECAUSE the trip would be faster and more convenient.

  1. 3. Motivating Prudent Reasons – Factors external to oneself which encourage one alternative over another
    1. a. While I might want to go on Wednesday, say, because my favorite clerk is working that day, it is more efficient to go on Tuesday, and thus I prudentially ought to go on Wednesday.

I would like to note that while (2) and (3) are similar, they refer to different things. For example, "I want to do X" is a consideration, as is "X is more convenient than Y", however the former can be ruled out as a motivating prudent reason particularly because simply wanting to do something doesn"t make it the best course of action, all things considered. For example, while I might want to go rock climbing, if rock climbing costs money, and I only have enough money to either go rock climbing or pay my phone bill for this month, it wouldn't be prudent to spend that money on rock climbing. Arguably, this course of action wouldn"t be rational, especially if one takes self-interest to be a given.

The Criteria
Why, you may ask, prefer these criteria over others? In making any decision, generally, these are the things which we focus on. For example, in writing this round, I had to decide how to structure my rebuttals, and I had to determine exactly which points PRO offered that I ought to respond to. I took into account what PRO had already stated, combined with my own background knowledge and argument style, and deciding this particular format would be best for me to use. Likewise, in everyday decision making, these seem to be the kind of things that play a central role. I welcome any challenge by PRO to these criteria, though they seem to be uncontroversial.

On Criterion (3)
Why external factors, rather than internal and external factors?
Internal factors are, generally, going to be desires and emotions, which by no means precludes rational action, but do encourage a higher level of irrationality. For example, if I am mad at someone, I might choose to "cuss them out". If that someone is a person I care about, cussing at them might not be the best way to go, all things considered. That said, a certain degree of deference must be given to external factors over internal ones, primarily on the basis of prudence.


My argument is, essentially, this.

P1. Any criterion for X which precludes the application of X-ness to any referent r ought to be rejected.
P2. PRO's criterion for rationality precludes the application rationality to any and all actions and choices.
Ergo, PRO's criterion for rationality ought to be rejected.

This is a valid argument. I have offered a few reasons to believe P1 and P2 are more likely true than false. PRO must object to one of these premises in order to avoid the conclusion.

I will save my positive arguments for next round. I think I"ve written enough here for PRO to respond to.

I look forward to PRO"s rebuttals.
Debate Round No. 2


Great response! I'll get right to it.

Con immediately begins by asserting that it is the "gambling" that I find unreasonable, and his rebuttal is essentially constructed on those grounds. But this is not quite right. It is not merely gambling that I objected to in my initial argument, it is gambling when the outcome directly affects someone else's life. And since we necessarily cannot know anything about that person's life, we have no grounds whatever for making rational decisions based on that. Con is absolutely right to point out that MANY decisions we make it everyday life involve this kind of gambling, and he is right. But as I was careful to mention in my initial argument, there's a key difference: namely, other decisions that we make, such as going to the grocery store on Tuesday, may well be governed largely by chance; but they are not therefore irrational because we still have good reasons to do them. That is, there is some process by which we decide them based on information that we may know ahead of time.

Here is some in the grocery store example: we have been to that grocery store before. We know how to get there. We know basically what to expect when we go in. We know basically what the nature of the trip will be. We know roughly how much money to bring based on our needs. The list goes on. Could any or all of these expectations be wrong? Certainly. But that does not make the decision to go irrational, because we have good, inductive evidence that at least most of these expectations will be met.

My argument is that having a child cannot be anything like that. We have all seen other people have children so we know what to expect in terms of what the child might look like, the needs that might need to be met, and so on. But the experience of parenthood is one that will always be entirely new. Here, con objects that many decisions are entirely new, therefore they either must all be irrational, therefore the word loses its meaning. Not at all - as I mentioned in my first argument, there is a key distinction between those experiences and this one. Namely, most of our new experiences will not change the course of lives forever. And we do not run the risk in those experiences of affecting someone else's life forever, as we do in the case of children. Here con might object with something like, "But some of those decisions do. If someone quits his job and moves into the mountains with his family he would mostly satisfy the criteria you just named." Indeed, he would - but then his decision would also be irrational. It won't have escaped your notice that I did not argue reproduction is the only irrational action, just that it is one of many irrational actions.

This point can be thusly summarized: con's objection that my standard is too broad, and thus not meaningful, does not stand. I have provided sufficient reason to think that most of our everyday actions can be made with good, inductive evidence of a roughly expected outcome. Therefore while these actions may ultimately be a gamble, as our intuitions and past experience could be wrong, that does not negate the fact that we HAD good reasons and good evidence for them, and therefore they are not irrational. Reproduction is inherently unprecedented for the individual, and it is a kind of experience that 1. We cannot know anything about a priori and 2. Will affect us and our children for the rest of our lives. These two assertions, when taken together, show that reproduction is not, therefore, a rational decision and is decidedly unlike other, everyday decisions we make that may involve a bit of gambling.

Con says, "For example, "I want to do X" is a consideration, as is "X is more convenient than Y", however the former can be ruled out as a motivating prudent reason particularly because simply wanting to do something doesn"t make it the best course of action, all things considered." But of course I never argued that simply wanting to do something makes it a rational criterion. In that example, we would WANT to go to the grocery store BECAUSE we have good reasons for preferring that decision. This argument, then, doesn't hold up.

I have no objection to con's criteria response. In fact, you'll note that I offered similar reasons in the grocery store example, and it is precisely these (and similar) criteria that I used in trying to show what actions are rational and what actions are not.

Given all of this, it is clear that we have good reason to deny premise 2 of con's argument, namely that my criteria for rationality applies to any and all actions. There are many actions, as we have seen, that it goes not apply to. There are also some that it does - but of course it does not follow in any way logically that therefore reproduction is not irrational, it only suggests that those actions are irrational, too. And it seems to me that we have good reasons to draw that distinction.

Now that we have drawn into doubt con's premises, there is no reason to think my initial argument does not still stand. I await con's response.



Thank you for submitting your R2 arguments, PRO.


Directly Effecting Someone Else’s Life

My decision to get a job, move into a new place, move out of my parent’s home, or even go to college all directly affect someone else’s lives (that of my parent’s, my friends, other students) in a way that we cannot know for certain, yet these decisions can still be rational, per the criteria I explicated, to which PRO had no objections.

Perhaps someone else was prevented from having a place of their own because I’ve moved into this new place. Since, I can’t know for sure, this (at least on PRO’s criteria) would be irrational. Even if we add the caveat that the gambling must affect someone else, that still makes all long-term decisions (buying a new house, buying a new car, changing careers, etc), irrational since we necessarily cannot know anything about the lives of the people we are affecting. My objection still stands: PRO’s criterion is still too broad.

From experience (which PRO relies heavily upon), we can know, with a high degree of confidence, that the situation of the parents generally determines the situation of the child. While we cannot know a priori (from reason alone) how that child’s life will be, we can know a posteriori (from experience) how that child’s life will likely be. If I have a good life, and if I love my child enough to pass my resources on to them, my child will likely have a good life, as well, so long as they are in need of my support. If I am financial stable, of sound mind and body, and in a stable relationship, the child is more likely to have a life with less suffering than if I were poor, jobless, mentally unwell, and a single parent. The same evidence (induction) that makes the decision to go to the grocery store rational makes my decision to have children rational.

In other words, we can know at least some things about that person’s life, and can reason inductively regarding the effects our decisions might have on them. Every child is different, and every parent’s situation is different, but, in general, we understand that certain facts about the lives’ of the parents lead to certain facts about the life of the child. As such, we have some grounds for making decisions which affect that person’s life.

Irrational Decisions that Affect only Me

I used an example earlier regarding paying a bill and going rock climbing. Cell phones are of practical use. They serve as a communication hub, for phone calls, email, and social networks, as well as personal assists, for appointments and contacts. If I choose, rather than paying my bill, to go rock climbing, this would be irrational, given the criteria I laid out in the previous round. I know that (1) I only have enough money for one or the other, (2) my phone has more long term use than rock climbing, (3) there are alternative exercises to rock climbing, (4) my service will be suspended due to non-payment and (5) I will have to spend more money to turn my service back on. These are the factors to be considered. These are also motivating prudent reasons. Now, should I still choose to go rock-climbing, even if I need phone service, I am being irrational. Unless I am in a situation where I have absolutely no need for a cell phone, paying my cell phone bill is the rational option of the two. This decision affects only me, yet is still irrational.

Positive Arguments

Argument from Criteria

A1. A decision D is rational if and only if there are motivating prudent reasons for D. (From Rational Choice Criteria)

P1. Reproduction is rational if and only if there are motivating prudent reasons for it (identity)

P2. There are motivating prudent reasons for reproduction for some people.

Ergo, Reproduction is rational for some people. (P2, P3, modus ponens)

The only premise to be defended here is P2. PRO has already agreed to A1, and P1 is simply an instantiation thereof.

Some couples are in the following situation:

Both desire children.

They are financially stable as a couple.

They are emotionally stable as individuals.

They are in a stable relationship.

Each is aware of the requirements of parenthood.

Each has experience with children.

They are in a committed relationship.

Circumstances are such that the couple can adequately deal with the impact a child would have on their lives. Additionally, there is a higher likelihood, in this situation, that the child will have a net positive life, at least while under the care of his/her parents. However, even if this were the case, the fact that the couple desires to have children serves to motivate that course of action. It is the conjunction of this desire, with the above factors that serves to create a MPR for this couple to have children.

My Criteria over PRO’s criteria

The criteria I explicated in Round 2 are, as I stated, generally applicable to any decision, whether long-term or short term. These criteria are specific enough to make some decisions rational and other decisions irrational, yet general enough not to rule out an entire class of decisions from rationality or make necessary the rationality of another class of decisions. In other words, it is usable on a strictly case-by-case basis, should there be a need for this. Additionally, PRO has no objections to it.

On the other hand, PRO’s criteria still precludes the rationality of long-term decisions. I say this because the decision to marry is life-altering in much the same way having children is. Being husband and wife is very different from being girlfriend and boyfriend or dating. We cannot know how that decision will affect someone, even if we do have some idea about their lives. Likewise, my decision to buy a new house in a new neighborhood is life-altering. I could, very well, end up staying in that same house until my death. PRO has not explicitly stated any criteria for rational decision making, but it seems that, roughly, the criterion is foreknowledge of effect. That is, if you cannot know the effects of a decision d on others, then d is irrational. Given PRO’s arguments thus far, this seems plausible, though possibly in error.


While PRO might have saved some decisions from irrationality, my objection still stands. There is a class of decisions (of which marriage, house-purchasing, and reproduction are members) which is necessarily irrational, without any evaluation whatsoever. Such decisions are (1) life-altering, (2) unprecedented in one’s life (generally), and (3) other-affecting. Given PRO’s arguments thus far, it would seem that these are the characteristics which makes reproduction irrational. Further, there are some decisions which are irrational by PRO’s criteria, but rational by criteria PRO finds agreeable. On what basis does PRO reject my criteria for the specific case of long-term/life-altering decisions?

I look forward to PRO’s responses.

Debate Round No. 3


Thanks again to con for a genuinely interesting response!

Before I address con's points, let me make a brief closing statement. You'll recall that the resolution is "Reproduction is not a rational choice." I'd invite readers to keep in mind that I have not said or even implied that reproduction is the ONLY irrational choice, just that it is one irrational choice among many. You'll also recall that I used a dipartite argument, namely that parents cannot know anything about the experience of parenthood ahead of time and that we necessarily cannot know anything about the child we bring into the world ahead of time.

Argument 1 is fairly weak (as it is intended to be), and con rightly points out that not having experience applies to many choices we make. But I have argued that parenthood is unlike many of these decisions because it a wholly unique, inherently unprecedented, irreversible decision. Con has tried to use some deductive arguments that make use of things like "some decision" or "A decision D," but the very point of this argument is that parenthood is NOT like any other decision. It is unique. Therefore I think his attempt to categorize parenthood with other decisions is misleading, but I'll get to that in a minute.

Argument 2, the 'suffering' argument, stronger, and con has not focused very much on this argument. He has ultimately failed to address the argument, it seems. I'd like to reiterate that argument. Here are, roughly, the options for non-existence:

No pain: good
No pleasure: not bad (since pleasure adds a positive to an otherwise neutral or negative state)

For existence:
Pain: bad
Pleasure: good

It is clear that we have no way of knowing whether our lives will be filled with pain or pleasure (con tries to make a case that we can, and I'll address that in a moment). Therefore reproduction is inherently a gamble with another person's life at stake - each person having roughly equal probability of living an overall good versus overall bad life. So if we reproduce and the person we bring into existence has a bad life, we've inflicted a real harm on that person. If we do not reproduce, the potential life never comes into fruition and thus cannot suffer a harm of any kind.

Now I'll get to con's remarks.
Similar decisions:
There is a significant difference between the options con named and the choice to reproduce. He mentioned: getting a job, moving into a new place, and going to college. But all of these decisions are reversible. If you don't like your job, you can quit. If you don't like your new home, you can move. If you don't like college, you can drop out or transfer. But parenthood is not like that in the slightest. If you dislike being a parent, you are AT BEST stuck with that decision for 18 years, but realistically for the rest of your life. For con's argument to work, the job, college, or new home would have to be permanent and you would have to make the decision fairly blindly: you may be able to turn to friends or family who have done these things and ask how they are, but it's not something you yourself can experience prior to doing it. Therefore this comparison fails.

We can know about our parental decision ahead of time:
Con says that we can know, roughly - based on our economic status, social status, and so on - what kind of parents we will be and what our children's lives will be like. But this doesn't seem to be the case at all. I grant con that it may be more irrational for someone who lives in desolate poverty to reproduce than someone who does not, but it's obvious that economic and social status are not indicators of what a child's life will be like. The child may be born with a deformity or a painful disorder. He may be stricken with a terminal or debilitating disease. He may be depressed. (In fact, wealthy children tend to be depressed at higher rates than poorer ones, but this is a triviality.) He may be heartbroken by the love of his life. He may get into a car accident and become a paraplegic. The fact is that we can really have no idea what will happen over the course of someone's life regardless of our status as parents. Thus, we fall back into my real harm argument, and it is clear that the more rational choice would have been not to reproduce.

Irrational decisions that affect only me:
I have to say I don't fully understand the relevance of this argument. I have not claimed that it is only decisions that affect other people that are irrational. In fact, part of my original argument is that reproduction is partly irrational because of the effect it may have on the parents (namely not liking parenthood, etc.). I claimed that since reproducing directly affects someone else's life AND since we cannot know anything about what their life will be like ahead of time it is irrational to reproduce, NOT that anytime we make decisions in regards to others it is irrational.

Argument from criteria:
I think, given what I have already said, we have good reason to deny premise 2 of con's argument, namely that there are motivating prudent reasons for reproduction for some people. People certainly have motivating reasons for reproducing, but my entire point thus far has been that these motivations cannot be prudent, because we cannot show thoughtfulness or care for the future (the child). Therefore we may reject premise 2, and the argument does not hold up.

Con's criteria:
I have not precluded the rationality of long-term decisions at all. I have precluded the rationality of long-term, IRREVERSIBLE decisions, the nature of which we cannot know anything about a priori. This is key to my argument, and I hope it is clear now why this criteria is not too broad. If con can name other long-term, irreversible, unknowable decisions, all he will succeed in doing is showing that these are also irrational decisions (tu quoque), not that reproduction is therefore rational.

I hope I have made it clear that reproduction is wholly and uniquely unknowable, irreversible, and non-self contained (that is, it affects other people as well as oneself). Therefore con's attempts to compare reproduction to things like college, owning a house, etc. have, in my view, fallen short of showing my criteria to be too broad. Additionally, con largely failed to address the real harm argument, which I feel carries more weight than the first nature-of-parenthood argument. As a result, I think my initial claim still stands: reproduction is, by its nature, an irrational decision. It is one of many, but this does not preclude it from irrationality.

On a final note, I have to say I really enjoyed this debate. I usually don't waste time on empty formalities, but I really enjoyed con's arguments and I found this exchange genuinely interesting. Thanks for a good debate, con.


Objections to PRO’s criteria for rationality

PRO first made use of induction as a defining characteristic for rationality. I argued that there is at least some inductive justification for having children, namely that the situation of the parents’ generally establishes the situation of the child. If the parents’ have a good life, it is likely the child will as well, in general.

PRO then makes use of the unpredictability of reproduction; the fact that we cannot know how the child’s life will end up. This is what PRO calls the “suffering” argument. I offered decisions which are extremely similar: marriage, career changes, and moving. PRO objects that these things are reversible. I will agree that you can decide to change from married to single, from mechanic to lawyer, and from apartment renter to home owner. However, this is a moot point. The effects of the decision are not reversible. My choice to be a mechanic will forever impact my life, even if I become a lawyer. You can change your mind in each of these scenarios. However, the decision was made, and it had its impact. Those impacts are not erased by changing ones’ mind. Such decisions are called “life-altering” with good reason. Even if I do decide to divorce my wife, it is still the case that at one time we were married, and had the interactions we had and learned the things we learned.

Motivating Prudent Reasons

Review my definition of this term.

“Factors external to oneself which encourage one alternative over another”

I offered a few examples of MPRs in Round 3. When there are two possible courses of action (paying a cell phone bill and going rock climbing), there are reasons which encourage paying the cell phone bill over going rock climbing. That is what I mean by “Motivating prudent reasons”. In regards to children.

For those couples of which those factors are true, the decision to have kids is encouraged over the decision not to have kids. As such, the decision to have kids is rational.

PRO claims we cannot show care or thought for the future. No argument is provided for this. As such, I respond, firstly, “Yes, we can” and secondly, this same mode of reasoning applies to each of the decisions I mentioned, especially the decision to marry and the decision to move. I do not know, for example, how my girlfriends’ family will be impacted by our decision to marry. It could cause them immense emotional discomfort. I could divorce, sure; however, I still got married. This is the point of my argument in this regard. If the criteria for rationality is, as PRO has argued, that we can know the impact it will have on others in the future, then any long-term decision is irrational, because we cannot know how that decision will affect others in the future. PRO is taking special considerations for reproduction without any justification for doing so. Simply because we can make a secondary decision which counteracts the initial long-term decision doesn’t make it somehow more rational to make these decision. It could even be said, using the same logic PRO has been using, that it is irrational to make a decision to reverse the initial decision, because we cannot know the effect the decision will have on others in the future, and we can’t know anything about the lives of all of the individuals who will be affected.

Suffering and Happiness

I discussed this argument very briefly in Round 2, along with other points regarding gambling. I don’t see how taking risks equates to being irrational. I argued that “gambling” was not inherently irrational, and PRO stated that “gambling” was not the thing to which he was objecting. Simply because there is risk involved in some decision doesn’t make it therefore irrational to make that decision.


A1. A decision d is rational if and only if there are motivating prudent reasons for d.

P1. Reproduction is rational if and only if there are motivating prudent reasons for it.

P2. There are motivating reasons for reproduction for some people

Ergo, Reproduction is rational for some people.

If P2 holds up, the conclusion follows, and the resolution is negated. I have provided reason to think P2 is true. I also pointed out that the arguments PRO offers don’t serve change the fact that at least some people have MPR’s for reproducing.


The burden of proof was on PRO to affirm the resolution, that “Reproduction is not a rational choice”.

PRO has argued that because we cannot know ahead of time how the child will be affected, and we cannot reverse the decision, it is irrational to reproduce. I argued that there are other decisions which have these same characteristics which are still rational. I further argued that there are some motivating prudent reasons for reproduction, namely economic, emotional, and interpersonal factors and the desire for children. There are risks involved in having children, but there are risks involved in majority of our decisions. PRO has not shown risk to be of any particular relevance to the rationality of reproduction.

The arguments PRO has provided so far fail to affirm the resolution. I have also offered some arguments which, if sound, serve to negate the resolution, also offering reasons to believe those arguments are sound.

I urge the audience to take these things into consideration.

Thank you PRO for a great debate.

Debate Round No. 4
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Pfalcon1318 3 years ago
Yes, it does thank you.
Posted by fullofhopkins 3 years ago
I guess in this context what I mean is a choice that can be made logically, without being too heavily influenced by things like emotion, human desires, and sentimentality. An example of a rational choice might be something like deciding to go to the grocery store on Tuesday instead of Wednesday because you have less to do on Tuesday and the trip would be faster and more convenient (outcomes are known as realistically as they can be, there isn't much risk involved, and based on the circumstances, Tuesday seems like the most reasonable choice.) An irrational choice might be something like quitting your job, packing your things, and moving to California to mine for gold. Of course it might pay off, but the chances are it won't; the decision was not thought out ahead of time or planned for, the outcomes aren't known, and the risks are high, but it was done despite these things for no other reason than hoping one might get lucky.

Does that answer your question?
Posted by Pfalcon1318 3 years ago
The resolution is "Reproduction is not a rational choice". Can you explain what it is you mean by this?

What is an example of a "rational choice" and what is an example of a "non-rational choice"? What are the criteria for each?
Posted by fullofhopkins 3 years ago
Edit: I didn't realize my summary of the debate would count as round 1. I've made the debate 4 rounds instead of 3. Con can use the first round for acceptance since I have the BoP and will make my case first.
Posted by CalRed 3 years ago
It's all good. I just reviewed one of pfalcon's earlier debates, and was pretty impressed. Good luck is all I can say.
Posted by fullofhopkins 3 years ago
Sure - what exactly did you want me to clear up?
Posted by Pfalcon1318 3 years ago
Can you elaborate a little bit on the resolution before I accept?
Posted by fullofhopkins 3 years ago
Sorry CalRed, Pfalcon got there right before you.
Posted by CalRed 3 years ago
I've got four kiddos. Rational can be a sliding scale of course, but I think I'm a rational dude so I'd love to give it a go.
Posted by Pfalcon1318 3 years ago
I'd be willing to accept.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by orangutan 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's argument was full of holes, and Con missed great responses to it (for example, what would disability rights activists have to say about the suffering argument?). But Con shows that other decisions, like getting married in certain situations, can be rational, as well as shows that couples have good reasons for believing their child will not suffer. Pro's rebuttals to this tend to fall short, and Con correctly points out that "becoming a mechanic" is not so reversible of a decision as Pro makes it out to be. Also, Pro is the one with the burden of proof.