Support the IEET




The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States. Please give as you are able, and help support our work for a brighter future.



Search the IEET
Subscribe and Contribute to:


Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view




whats new at ieet

Reading robots’ minds

Genetic Enineering and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis

Sorgner @ 3rd World Humanities Forum

Futurism: Go Big

Why oil is getting cheaper

7 Signs That the American Dream is Dying


ieet books

Virtually Human: The Promise—-and the Peril—-of Digital Immortality
Author
Martine Rothblatt


comments

Rick Searle on '2040’s America will be like 1840’s Britain, with robots?' (Oct 31, 2014)

Peter Wicks on '2040’s America will be like 1840’s Britain, with robots?' (Oct 31, 2014)

Rick Searle on '2040’s America will be like 1840’s Britain, with robots?' (Oct 31, 2014)

Peter Wicks on '2040’s America will be like 1840’s Britain, with robots?' (Oct 31, 2014)

rms on '2040’s America will be like 1840’s Britain, with robots?' (Oct 31, 2014)

CygnusX1 on '2040’s America will be like 1840’s Britain, with robots?' (Oct 30, 2014)

Rick Searle on '2040’s America will be like 1840’s Britain, with robots?' (Oct 30, 2014)







Subscribe to IEET News Lists

Daily News Feed

Longevity Dividend List

Catastrophic Risks List

Biopolitics of Popular Culture List

Technoprogressive List

Trans-Spirit List



JET

Enframing the Flesh: Heidegger, Transhumanism, and the Body as “Standing Reserve”

Moral Enhancement and Political Realism

Intelligent Technologies and Lost Life

Hottest Articles of the Last Month


2040’s America will be like 1840’s Britain, with robots?
Oct 26, 2014
(11648) Hits
(18) Comments

Google’s Cold Betrayal of the Internet
Oct 10, 2014
(7814) Hits
(2) Comments

Why oil is getting cheaper
Oct 29, 2014
(5533) Hits
(0) Comments

Should we abolish work?
Oct 3, 2014
(5426) Hits
(1) Comments



IEET > Rights > ReproRights > Life > Health > Contributors > P. Tittle

Print Email permalink (98) Comments (6599) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


The Inconsistency of Not Licensing Parents


P. Tittle
By P. Tittle
Bite-Sized Subversions

Posted: Jun 17, 2012

The proposal to license parents – that is, to require people to obtain a license, by demonstrating certain attributes and/or abilities, before they produce and possibly rear children – is usually rejected, usually quickly and loudly. I contend that this rejection reveals inconsistent thinking, to the extent that certain other regulations already in place are accepted.

First, let’s consider cloning, assisted insemination by donor (AID), in vitro fertilization (IVF), and surrogacy, all of which deal with the production part of being a parent. Anticipating that at some point in the near future, we will be able to clone human beings, one might also reasonably anticipate that such cloning will not be unregulated. For example, I doubt we’ll allow someone to create his own private workforce or his own little army. And I suspect we’ll prohibit cloning oneself for mere ego gratification. Doing it just because it’s fun will certainly be illegal (and I expect it won’t even be imaginable to do it “without really thinking about it,” let alone “by accident”). I suspect we’ll enforce some sort of quality control, such that cloned human beings shall not exist in pain or be severely “compromised” with respect to basic functioning. Actually, I suspect one will have to apply for a license and satisfy rigorous screening standards, and I assume this will include the submission, and approval, of a detailed plan regarding responsibility for the cloned human being – surely we won’t allow a scientist to create it and then just leave it on the lab’s doorstep one night when he leaves. And yet we accept all of these motives and behaviours when life is created in backseats and bedrooms.

In fact, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission has already recommended “regulating” cloning, to the point of outright prohibition, and it has done so because of the physical and psychological harms that may result, the “severe developmental abnormalities”[1] and the negative effects on the child’s self-worth and “experience of freedom.”[2] Are we not concerned about such physical and psychological harms when they may result from coital reproduction?

In our more immediate present, parenting is also regulated when it involves access to new reproductive technologies (NRTs), such as AID and IVF. The Canadian Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies requires, for example, that all potential sperm donors provide detailed information about their health and the health of their first-degree relatives; this information is to be reviewed by a clinical geneticist and “any indication of serious genetic anomalies or other high-risk factors” is to be grounds for disqualification.[3] They also require donors to take tests for HIV and other infectious diseases.[4] It is perplexing that these requirements apply only when sperm is to be used by someone other than the sperm producer’s “partner.”[5]

Furthermore, the Commission recommends that “a license [be] required to perform insemination at any site other than the vagina even if the recipient is the social partner.”[6] Why, when the vagina is the site, is it “anything goes”, but otherwise, we “proceed with care”?The Commission also recommends that the woman seeking to become impregnated through various assistive NRTs sign a statement indicating that she has “received, read, and understood” not only information outlining “the risks, responsibilities, and implications of donor insemination…,”[7] but also the sperm screening and medical test results.[8] Why shouldn’t women be required to provide such informed consent for “unassisted” reproduction as well?

Counselling should also to be provided, the Commission goes on to say, that addresses “information about alternatives ... such as ... living without children; avoidance of exposure to risk factors…; [and] some exploration of questions related to values and goals that patients may wish to take into account when making their decisions….”[9] Again, why shouldn’t we also require this of those intending to “access” “old reproductive technologies”?

Regulations concerning “surrogacy” reveal a similar double standard. Susan Ince describes the various tests one needs to pass before being accepted for a gestational contract: a thorough medical exam, genetic screening if indicated, intelligence testing, and psychological evaluation. She also describes the “extensive behavioral controls over the surrogate” which include prohibitions on smoking, drinking, and illegal drugs, as well as mandatory medical, psychological, and counselling appointments[10]; “any action,” she says, “that ‘can be deemed to be dangerous to the well-being of the unborn child’ constitutes a breach of contract.”[11] Why should children born of surrogates be privileged to a higher standard of care in their creation than children not so born?

Lori Andrews has pointed out that “surrogacy contracts contain lengthy riders detailing the myriad risks of pregnancy, so potential surrogates are much better informed on that topic than are most women who get pregnant in a more traditional fashion.”[12] Why do we not require this of all those who intend to gestate?

Next, let’s consider custody, fostering, and adoption, all of which deal with the rearing part of being a parent. When a married-with-kids couple separates, the parents usually try to demonstrate to the court their parental competence in the hope of being granted custody of the children. Such competence is taken to include their knowledge of child-rearing, various personal qualities such as patience and sensitivity, their availability to the children, and so on. As long as they do not separate, however, such competence is apparently irrelevant – they are granted custody of the children, whatever their level of knowledge, skills, and commitment.

People who want to foster or adopt children must undergo similar “tests of competence,” including a home visit and a background check. Roger McIntire pointedly asks what would happen if this were not so, if adoption agencies used instead a first-come, first-served basis: “Imagine some drunk stumbling up and saying ‘I’ll take that cute little blond-haired girl over there.’”[13] And yet that’s pretty much what we currently allow with regard to non-adoptive parenting. Why do we cling to the irrational belief that biological parents are necessarily competent parents – in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Indeed, as Elizabeth Bartholet asks, “Why would anyone think that those who consciously plan to adopt someone else’s child pose more of a risk than those who fall unwittingly into pregnancy?”[14]

Daycare workers and teachers – people to whom we entrust the care and nurturing of children for up to 8 hours a day – must be licensed. They must actually study full-time for months, if not years, and pass several examinations before the state allows them that responsibility. And yet someone can be responsible not only for a child’s education, but for virtually everything about the child, for twenty-four hours a day until that child is six years of age – that is, for the duration of the critical, formative years – and he or she doesn’t even have to so much as read a pamphlet about child development. Why not?

Why are we are so inconsistent – why don’t we license parents when parenthood occurs as a consequence of sexual intercourse? Perhaps it’s because we don’t take parenting seriously. And yet we do take it seriously when it occurs apart from sexual intercourse, when NRTs and foster arrangements are involved.[15]

Perhaps, as Jack Westman claims, it is because parenting doesn’t have any economic value in our society.[16] Surrogates and foster parents are paid, so perhaps it’s that regulation is warranted when money is involved. However, not only does this explanation suggest we’re more concerned about our money than our children, it doesn’t account for our evaluations of competence when co-parents divorce (and not, for example, when they marry).

Perhaps we don’t license parenting because it’s considered a private matter. When parenting involves NRTs and fostering, however, it fails to be private – perhaps that’s the element that warrants regulation. But it’s unclear why the involvement of others should have that effect. Further, perhaps the more important point is not whether parenting is private, but whether it should be private; we used to think one spouse hitting another was a private matter, but, fortunately, we have changed our minds and now consider state involvement, including regulation, to be warranted in such cases.

Or perhaps the difference is that children are considered to be the private property of their parents. However, given the time, effort, and resources involved, children produced through NRTs would be even more so the private property of their creators – and yet there we have regulation. More importantly, especially since the anti-slavery movement, we have established good grounds for rejecting the notion of people as property.

One last possible explanation for our inconsistency is that we have a right to have children, and regulation would interfere with that right. But then don’t the scientists cloning embryos in their labs have a right to have those children? What about the women seeking AID and IVF? What about the men seeking surrogates? What about the people wanting to adopt? If we have a right to have children, and if regulation interferes with that right, then regulation in those cases should be rejected. To be consistent, one would have to modify the rights claim to say something like “We have a right to engage in reproductive sexual intercourse and to rear the results.”

But on what grounds can we claim this right? Merely having a capability does not entail the right to exercise that capability. Some argue that the right to reproduce is a natural right (see S.L.Floyd and D.Pomerantz for a critique of this view), some refer to its importance to personal well-being and identity (see Dan Brock and John A. Robertson), and some point to the need or desire to have a child (see Chadwick for a critique of this view). But whatever the nature or justification for the right to “have children,” rights are seldom considered absolute: they may be overidden by competing rights – the rights of another individual or the rights of society.

So we come back to the question of whether there are relevant and significant differences between, on the one hand, parentage involving NRTs and parenting involving fostering, and on the other hand, parentage and parenting involving sexual intercourse – differences that warrant regulation on the one hand but not on the other. One possibility is that NRTs and arrangements in which the children one nurtures are not one’s own biological issue are unnatural. But the biological material is natural – why does it matter which cells are involved or how they get into a uterus? Furthermore, it’s unclear why “unnatural” should imply “subject to greater regulation.”

Another possibility is that with NRTs and the other arrangements, people are asking for society’s help, they are asking for the use of societal resources – and that’s why permission is required: not only to use those resources, but to ensure they’re not misused. But people reproducing without NRT assistance also use societal resources, most notably through the healthcare system for prenatal, natal, and postnatal care. Furthermore, in both cases, the resulting child certainly uses societal resources.

So it would seem there are no relevant and significant differences. There is, however, one relevant and significant similarity: the potential for serious harm to those who have a right to be free from such harm. Parentage, however it occurs, involves the creation of a life, a life that is sensitive to the various harms and goods that its creators can bring about.[17] And parenting, however it occurs, involves the development of a person who will interact with the rest of the world, taking and giving, for good and for bad. So whether framed as a consequentialist argument or as a rights argument,[18] I contend that the consideration of harm is sufficient grounds for at least some sort of parent licensing program.

Of course, consistency, wouldn’t be the only benefit of licensing parents. As Joseph Fletcher says, “It is depressing, not comforting, to realize that most people are accidents.”[19] And insofar as intended children are more apt than unintended children to receive love and adequate care, licensing, by requiring intentional action prior to birth (application, at least, and perhaps also the acquisition of certain capacities and competencies), could increase the odds that children are indeed loved and cared for. Licensing would have the same effect as mandatory contraception: “Our ways of thinking about pregnancy and childbearing would undergo radical change – from something one accepts or rejects when it happens to something one chooses to begin.”[20]

Another benefit, insofar as a licensing program would include an educational component, is described by Philip Kitcher (who proposes education instead of licensing, not as part of licensing): “People would make ... right decisions because they would understand the consequences of their decisions, both for their offspring and for society.”[21] (Although we’d like to believe there is a connection between education and ethics, perhaps this would apply only some of the time to some of the people.)

Yet another benefit of licensing parents is that which Gregory Kavka identifies as a benefit of genetic engineering but which could apply to parenting as well as parentage: “We might come to view parents as being more responsible for how their children turn out than we now view them.”[22] Kavka goes on to describe this responsibility almost existentially, as “awesome, possibly overwhelming”[23] – perhaps that response to parenthood is overdue.

 


Notes

 

[1] National Bioethics Advisory Commission, “Cloning Human Beings” in Flesh of My Flesh: The Ethics of Cloning Humans. ed. Gregory E. Pence (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1998), p.48.

[2] Ibid., p.51.

[3] Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies, Proceed with Care (Ottawa, ON: Minister of Government Services Canada, 1993), p.476 (item 88.a).

[4] Ibid., (items 88.f, h, i, j). [5] Ibid., (item 87). [6] Ibid., p.484. [7] Ibid., p.481.

[8] Ibid., p.476 (item 99, f, iii). [9] Ibid., p.571.

[10] Susan Ince, “Inside the Surrogate Industry” in Test-Tube Women. eds. Rita Arditti, Renate Duelli Klein, and Shelley Minden. (London, UK: Pandora Press, 1984), p.105.

[11] Ibid., p.106.

[12] Lori B. Andrews, New Conceptions: A Consumer’s Guide to the Newest Infertility Treatments (New York: Ballantyne Books, 1985), p.172.

[13] Roger McIntire, “Parenthood Training or Mandatory Birth Control: Take Your Choice,” Psychology Today (October 1973): 133, 143.

[14] Elizabeth Bartholet, Family Bonds (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993), p.69, emphasis added.

[15] Henceforth, “NRTs” is taken to refer to cloning, AID, IVF, and surrogacy, and “fostering” is taken to refer to foster care and adoption.

[16] Jack C. Westman, Licensing Parents: Can We Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect? (New York: Plenum Press, 1994), p.3.

[17] And I contend that this power alone entails responsibility, by the individual and by the state (to ensure the individual meets that responsibility).

[18] A license would restrict rights before harm is done (that is, in order to prevent harm), rather than because harm has been done, so to some extent the proposal to license parents is subject to the “presumption of guilt rather than innocence.” However, restricting one’s rights need not be perceived as punishment for some as yet undemonstrated wrongdoing. Furthermore, the same preventive rationale is used for issuing other sorts of licenses, such as drivers’ licenses.

[19] Joseph Fletcher, The Ethics of Genetic Control: Ending Reproductive Roulette (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1988), p.36.

[20] Margaret P. Battin, “Sex & Consequences: World Population Growth vs. Reproductive Rights,” Philosophic Exchange 27 (1997): 30.

[21] Philip Kitcher, The Lives to Come (NY: Simon & Schuster), 1996), p.202, emphasis added.

[22] Gregory S. Kavka, “Upside Risks: Social Consequences of Beneficial Biotechnology” in Are Genes Us? The Social Consequences of the New Genetics. ed. Carl F. Cranor (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1994), p.172-173.

[23] Ibid., p.173.


P. Tittle is the author of Critical Thinking: An Appeal to Reason (Routledge, 2011), Sh*t that Pisses Me Off (Magenta, 2011), Ethical Issues in Business: Inquiries, Cases, and Readings (Broadview, 2000), and What If...Collected Thought Experiments in Philosophy (Longman, 2005). She lives in Canada, and she blogs at www.pegtittle.com.
Print Email permalink (98) Comments (6600) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


COMMENTS


We can start licensing parenting if we abolish any notion of social contract in all countries around the world and start making voluntarist contracts with mandatory education.  If we should care about sentient beings being “nurtured” by psychopathic parenting, then we should care if beings are being religiously and coercively forced to follow a central government as well. Central governments created much more harm than psychopathic and unfit parents. Any central planning entity can drop societal resources to help some parenting and parents can refuse central planning and it’s monopoly.  If central planners are willing to to help to create the condition for responsible parenting, then most of the people would start spontaneously supporting such regulation. Until that doesn’t happen, I can’t see any Stalinist non-spontaneous intervention working without creating unintended consequences.





Perhaps a better, yet, similar idea would be to formulate some test that anyone who wanted to could take, that would let them know if they are ready to be a parent, and show them their respective strengths and weaknesses. As well as resources to “exercise” targeted skill sets.

This leaves them free to make an informed decision, and if for some reason it is too late to make the decision, for whatever reasons or beliefs, then at least they can have resources to better prepare.





Welcome back P., long time no read.

In today’s world, very soon everyone will need a license to use their own bathrooms (I used to express this with different words, but now we are all very polite). So, one would think, why not a parenting license.

You need a license to sell ice-creams or drive a car, so a parenting license seems to make sense: of course I see that poor parents can do much more damage to other people than poor drivers, or ice-cream sellers.

But then I remember that you can always get a license to sell ice-creams by bribing some bureaucrats. Similarly, I know many people who had to pay the requested bribe to get a driving license, even if they were very good drivers.

I think the real raison d’ etre of regulations is to permit regulators to make money with bribes. @Peter, of course this is a dramatic overstatement, but you know that there is much truth in it.

Do we really want to live in a world where only people rich enough to pay bribes to bureaucrats can have kids? P., this is a nightmare. Better leave well enough alone if you ask me.





I think, Giulio, the solution is to have a system immune to bribery.

And to have one in which good drivers don’t need to bribe.  (If they passed the test, why did they need to bribe?)

If it doesn’t cost anything to get the license, again, why are the poor at a disadvantage? 

If anything, the rich would be at a disadvantage, because they’d not want to give up, say, every night for a month and all their weekends to take the required course.





“I think, Giulio, the solution is to have a system immune to bribery.”

That’s fine in principle, Peg, but how do you create such a system in practice?





@P. re “If they passed the test, why did they need to bribe?”

Because whether you pass the test or not is a decision of the person that administer the test, who sometimes wants a bribe before deciding that you have passed the test.

re “a system immune to bribery”

I think a system where some persons have power over others is, by definition, vulnerable to bribes. The only (extreme) solution that I am able to imagine is this.





It does depend on the culture, though. Bribery is endemic in some cultures and not in others. Or at least more in some cultures than in others.





Once again, to be blunt, great idea, cannot be effectively implemented with current technology, and will be more or less accomplished in the not very distant future once sex and reproduction have been divorced and making a child will require not merely consent from both parties, but in which universal surveillance will ensure the accountability of the parents to the child.

This concept will never be accepted in current social reality. The church and other “authorities” have tried for millennia. Even our current culture is overwhelmed with memes attempting to control sex and reproduction. Our genetic instincts over-ride it every time. Put people together, sex will occur, no matter what taboos or restrictions are imposed. Until sex can occur, but not reproduction, this is an idea doomed from the start.





John Niman, one of our writers, posted an interesting quote regarding this topic on the IEET Facebook page. He says that John Stuart Mill said:

“It still remains unrecognised, that to bring a child into existence without a fair prospect of being able, not only to provide food for its body, but instruction and training for its mind, is a moral crime, both against the unfortunate offspring and against society; and that if the parent does not fulfil this obligation, the State ought to see it fulfilled, at the charge, as far as possible, of the parent.”





That was from On Liberty, p. 75 if anyone is interested.

Thinking about it a bit more, I’m not sure where Mill would stand on licensing parenting. Generally speaking he seems to be OK with licensing so long as the license isn’t used to unduly exclude people (racist tendencies of the time aside, he’d probably not be OK with IQ tests for voting, but is OK with registration lists for buying poisons, etc.) However, even if he didn’t like the licensing idea, he’d almost certainly be pro-state involvement if the parents messed up. So maybe one doesn’t need a licence to have a child (through any alternative forms, either) but the state would rightfully have the power to remove the children from a household that is not properly caring for them, give the children the care they need, and force the parents to pay for it (in manual labor, if necessary, as he says more than once.)

For me, I like the licensing idea better. Some cost up front would seem to save a lot of cost later.





To focus a little less on the general idea, and a little more on my article, are ‘we’ agreed there is an inconsistency in not licensing parents?  If so, why is this inconsistency permissible?  That is, why are you all NOT suggesting instead that we deregulate AID, IVF, surrogacy, cloning, custody/fostering/adoption, and teaching?

And on the bribery point, Giulio, are you suggesting we not require drivers or surgeons to become licensed?  After all, they too can bribe someone to grant them a pass.





@ Peg..

You paint with a broad brush, and your premise is difficult to argue against. Indeed it is unfair that surrogate and adoptive parents should be under so much scrutiny, although we must not assume that even here it is the child’s welfare or needs that are the priority. I would still say that parents in any shape or form have children wholly for selfish reasons?

I will comment on each paragraph below, to serve, (hopefully), a counter point of argument?

“Daycare workers and teachers – people to whom we entrust the care and nurturing of children for up to 8 hours a day – must be licensed. They must actually study full-time for months, if not years, and pass several examinations before the state allows them that responsibility. And yet someone can be responsible not only for a child’s education, but for virtually everything about the child, for twenty-four hours a day until that child is six years of age – that is, for the duration of the critical, formative years – and he or she doesn’t even have to so much as read a pamphlet about child development. Why not?”

Yet therein lies a shortfall, day-care workers cannot always be trusted with care of children, we just assume they can? A recent case in the UK uncovered a paedophile ring hidden for years within a day-care group, without the knowledge of the parents.

Yet it’s the second paragraph that disturbs somewhat? You paint the picture that this is an opportunity for harm, but I would say that for the majority of cases, this is of benefit and that this kind of “nurture” should be encouraged and preferred to any surrogate day-care services? It’s a generalisation to state that parents have little tuition in pre-natal and post-natal education, and pamphlets and information is widely available, (at least here in the UK NHS), although it is up to the individual parent to make use of these, which I would argue that they do in fact?


“Why are we are so inconsistent – why don’t we license parents when parenthood occurs as a consequence of sexual intercourse? Perhaps it’s because we don’t take parenting seriously. And yet we do take it seriously when it occurs apart from sexual intercourse, when NRTs and foster arrangements are involved.[15]”

Or perhaps it is because we don’t take sex education and contraception seriously, especially where young parents are concerned? How does a parent license help with these failures, how is it to be enforced? Do the state police turn up and confiscate the illegal baby from willing parents? Punish for mistakes with penalty and fine? How does this ultimately help the child?


“Perhaps, as Jack Westman claims, it is because parenting doesn’t have any economic value in our society.[16] Surrogates and foster parents are paid, so perhaps it’s that regulation is warranted when money is involved. However, not only does this explanation suggest we’re more concerned about our money than our children, it doesn’t account for our evaluations of competence when co-parents divorce (and not, for example, when they marry).”

And this is rather as Giulio is indicating, that increased bureaucracy and licensing serves only the purpose to create revenues, for testing, consultation, administration, and finally the fee for a piece of paper with a rubber stamp.. and to be renewed?

Can you envision any oligarch or prominent politician being denied such parent license for the reasons of genetic inadequacies, family histories, or previous misdemeanour or even accidental pregnancy? Most likely they will just bribe to ensure they get their license, and protect their reputation as with anything else they require?


“So it would seem there are no relevant and significant differences. There is, however, one relevant and significant similarity: the potential for serious harm to those who have a right to be free from such harm. Parentage, however it occurs, involves the creation of a life, a life that is sensitive to the various harms and goods that its creators can bring about.[17] And parenting, however it occurs, involves the development of a person who will interact with the rest of the world, taking and giving, for good and for bad. So whether framed as a consequentialist argument or as a rights argument,[18] I contend that the consideration of harm is sufficient grounds for at least some sort of parent licensing program.”

This is highly relevant, but I notice you have omitted or overlooked all of the social issues that lead to bad parenting and abuse? Do children raised in more affluent environments, with parents who do not want of needs or struggle, suffer the same stresses as those parents who live without?


“Of course, consistency, wouldn’t be the only benefit of licensing parents. As Joseph Fletcher says, “It is depressing, not comforting, to realize that most people are accidents.”[19] And insofar as intended children are more apt than unintended children to receive love and adequate care, licensing, by requiring intentional action prior to birth (application, at least, and perhaps also the acquisition of certain capacities and competencies), could increase the odds that children are indeed loved and cared for. Licensing would have the same effect as mandatory contraception: “Our ways of thinking about pregnancy and childbearing would undergo radical change – from something one accepts or rejects when it happens to something one chooses to begin.”[20]”

Although parent licensing may go some way towards preventing unwanted pregnancy, (or at least we would hope this is the case), in practice it is really sexual education and contraception that will prevent pregnancy. What happens if a women or couple become pregnant without a license? Would they freely give sanction to abort, or decide to keep the child and hide the pregnancy, break the law, and suffer the consequences as social fugitives?


“Another benefit, insofar as a licensing program would include an educational component, is described by Philip Kitcher (who proposes education instead of licensing, not as part of licensing): “People would make ... right decisions because they would understand the consequences of their decisions, both for their offspring and for society.”[21] (Although we’d like to believe there is a connection between education and ethics, perhaps this would apply only some of the time to some of the people.)”

This is something I would agree with in principle, with the emphasis squarely upon “nurture” and education of potential parents. And as the last sentence implies, this still does not help with the imposition and application of parent licensing and sanction of pregnancy by the state where parents either fail in their duties, or become pregnant by accident etc. So this still does not substantiate or warrant the need for a license, as education and nurture, (and testing), should really serve the purposes to overcome ignorance and other parental inadequacies?

As Valkyrie points out, it would make sense that in a future where transgender and morphological freedom is commonplace, then the normal means of procreation and pregnancy would most likely be inhibited through widespread sterilisation anyhow. Even normal pregnancy would be deemed as inefficient and unsafe as compared to IVF with artificial womb and gestation? In which case application for use of services, through medical or state sanction could apply and be accepted more easily?

Of course, we have had this argument proposed before and debated at length. For clarification here’s what I stated the previous time, a statement which I still stand by..

“I have always argued, (in light of abuse or even the killing of an infant by guardians - see any relevant media article), that some parents should in fact take some sort of preliminary test or education to see if they should or can handle parenting?”

“In any case I don’t think a formal license should impose on any social freedom, and we should be building towards less state governance and the philosophy of more “personal responsibility”, guided by social education.”

http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/comments/pellissier20110420/


However..

If parent licensing were proposed as a means to control overpopulation and strain on planetary resources, then I may have a slightly different point of view. In this case, parent licensing makes more sense to me.

As Valkyrie has also pointed out, to impose and enforce by law such a parent license at this time would be socially unacceptable, and especially where the worst scenario would be the removal of any baby by the state for breach of valid license?

 





“I think a system where some persons have power over others is, by definition, vulnerable to bribes.”


Yes, and bribery may be *permanent*. But IMO Peg is correct, IMO the benefits of licencing parents outweigh the liabilities. And when we reject all statist/quasii-statist proposals we are stealth-shilling for the status quo; we are saying we don’t know what to do so let’s play it safe and see what happens. Transhumans-posthumanism, nano, space exploration, etc., are far, far more radical + risky than licencing parents.
I say give licencing parents a try to see what the outcome is.





I’m all for it. I just see no way that it could be implemented given current social reality.

This IS A GOOD IDEA. Unfortunately, until we have made other advances, there is no means by which we can actually make it happen. While the case can be made that not licensing creates a situation in which very great harm can be inflicted on the child, and therefore needs regulation, it cannot be enforced until such a time as the sex act can be divorced from the reproductive act, and conception can be prevented UNIVERSALLY until a license can be obtained, and proof shown that the child will be cared for, with systems in place to monitor child care and ensure that parents are behaving in an accountable manner.





You’re right, Valkyrie, it’s another nonstarter. All the good ideas, parental licensing, Hank’s idea of taxing houses of worship, and so forth, are the notions the old-fashioned do not approve of since for starters the implementation would change the status quo. Secondary or tertiary is that those ‘conservatives’ on top lose their power—yet power may not be as crucial as I think it is, but rather, dislocation, particularly familial dislocation; loss of the old ambiance—which is related to sheer nostalgia: sentimentality for when life was simpler and sometimes slower paced. You can see why many like to watch and would also like to live the Andy Griffith life in Mayberry. Ironically, if they could completely stop all aging processes, a family could live a Utopian life; however they cannot so the truly religious look to Heaven as their ultimate Utopia. Heaven, where the streets are paved with gold and no one ever grows old.
A big reason, or the big reason, for looking to the past or to Now-Now, is that one was younger in the past (re Utopianism, one stays the same age as Now). Plus an individual or a family can die in an accident. The #1 threats to our health and lives are parked in our driveways. So nostalgia/Utopianism aren’t irrational—they are escapist.

‘Course, there is nothing technoprogressive regarding nostalgia/Utopianism. And what to do about technoprogressivism, what to do concerning changing the status quo? It would appear it is up to the OWS, and the Arab Spring activists; even when they work with nostalgic/Utopian means, the ends are change for better and worse.





Valkyrie, I agree.  Completely.  And you’d think that if we can put men [sic] on the moon and invent Viagra, we could invent a reversible no-serious-side-effects contraception vaccine.





The status quo Rules doesn’t it?





And that’s the really depressing thing.  All this new tech we might talk about here at ieet isn’t going to make a damn bit of difference if we take to it the same tired old values, the same attitudes…

It’s like making a robot - as a sex toy for straight men.  Woohoo.  New tech.  Cutting edge?  Right.  Sure.

What did those brilliant (straight male) scientists name the first sheep they cloned?





Regulate crack cocaine on maximum security prisons, they said.
Regulate parenting, they said.

You can’t regulate parenting without high tech post-human technology or perhaps biotechnology without turning any society into a brutal dictatorship that creates counter-productive unintended actions.  There is no way that it could be implemented given current social and technological reality. There is no way because it would be counter-productive, it would NOT be spontaneously supported by a considerable necessary margin of the society.





“It’s like making a robot - as a sex toy for straight men.  Woohoo.  New tech.  Cutting edge?  Right.  Sure. What did those brilliant (straight male) scientists name the first sheep they cloned?”


I never thought of that, but you are correct.
Ones at the bottom are even worse, btw, Communism/Fascism are bottom-up more than top-down—which is the flaw in the Arab Spring as well. But I can’t see any other way for change save for change for better and worse via OWS, etc:
“when you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.”
How true, change is from hunger motivated by some sort of desperation; plus the blind faith of youth who want change without knowing what it is or what the outcomes will be. Necessity is the mother of invention





The idea that the “Rich” would have an advantage, is of course, a concern.

But… Just being wealthy is NOT a guarantee that one would be given a license to breed.

I look at my own parents as prime examples of people who should not have been allowed to breed as they existed when they had children.

Yes, all of the children have been largely successful (to a certain extent), but every one of us (save for my younger brother) has had profound emotional and existential issues, and a vastly warped sense of morality (which has been overcome in all cases save my older sister).

And I look at the many children in the neighborhood where I grew up.

Most of their parents were monsters, who produced children who were monsters.

Just having money is not sufficient to be cleared to breed.

Also necessary would be genetic qualifications, and emotional/psychological qualifications, for which the wealthy have no real advantage over the poor.





Still, Matt, whatever the parents’ and the child’s attributes, better the child should live in a decent home than in a seedy one.
Some of us will take half-a-loaf in the name of progress.





I completely understand that a child born into a desperate environment is going to have many more issues than would a child born into a more affluent environment.

And… with Parenting licenses, you would see a huge bite taken out of poverty.

The poor often declare that such measures are intended to “breed the poor out of existence.”

In this regard, I think that the advocates of parenting licenses need to step up and say “Yes. This is the goal.”

There is nothing special about poverty, or the poor, as a culture, that especially needs to be preserved.

There are many “racial/ethnic” issues that accompany this (such as the fact that minorities are more often “poor”), but this is easily addressed in a world where parenting requires a license by subsidizing those less wealthy, but highly qualified parents.

But… The whole point of parenting licenses is to mitigate the many social issues that come with unplanned pregnancies (usually born into poverty), and reduce the incidence of abusive homes affecting children.

A secondary effect is that, yes, poverty will be reduced by reducing the number of children born into poverty.

I don’t especially see that as a “bad” thing.

But…

The whole issue of parenting licenses brings up another issues that is fraught with political complications: Birth Control and reproductive choice.

These issues are rather complex on both the left and right.

The right seeks to punish those who have sex outside of wedlock, while the left tends to be reactionary when it comes to restricting the rights of anyone to breed (usually citing eugenics policies of the Third Reich as an example of where they believe it will lead).

So, being able to educate existing children about birth control, and thorough sex-ed will be a problem that would need to first be overcome.





I could not disagree more with the idea of licensing parents. I think that, as an idea, it is both very immoral and, given certain current conditions, unfeasible.

I will deal only with the ethical analysis. Others have already noticed the impracticality of the proposal (i.e. corruption, reproductive issues)

What is licensing in general? What are its logical preconditions, its moral justifications? The existence of licenses for a certain activity (let us call it : “X”) implies a series of things:
I. The local population is divided into three categories : (1) those can legally perform X, (2) those who cannot legally perform X, (3) those who can assign people to one of the first two categories, according to certain protocols (let us call them “Y”).
II. The activity X must be performed according to specific protocols Y, to avoid a series of public and/or private risks.
III. To avoid the insurgence of the aforementioned risks, a police agency must prevent unlicensed subjects to perform the activity X.

Now, so far so good. But, it is crucial to understand how really inherently dangerous is the activity X, and how reliable are the protocol Y.

Now, parenting is an absolutely fundamental human activity. It is not like being a surgeon, a fisherman, or a pedagogue. It is an essential part of the biology of our species. Almost everyone can be a parent. All our physical structure, all our ontogenetic timeline speak of our necessity of prolonged parental care for a rather long time. The importance of performing the action of caring for your offspring is, biologically speaking, comparable to the importance of performing the action of feeding yourself. Do we want to license feeding oneself? Do we want to license breathing? These last two activities are also potentially lethal is performed in the wrong way.
My point is that eating, breathing, moving around, reproducing, and caring of our children are evolutionarily meaningful activities, we all have the right, innate equipment to perform them right - since they had been part of our life-cycle for millions of years.
Also, I am not aware of the existence of any complete theory of human rearing. Pedagogy is not a science. It is one of our many cultural codes, with all its local, changeable contents. Pedagogues in Bali would tell you of the high formative value of a piece of wood piercing your tongue. I would disagree with them. Who decides who is wrong? How? Without a solid, scientific ground - the recommended rearing protocols are just colorful superstitions. Period.

This does not mean that bad parents do not exist out there. But we can already cope with stressed mothers throwing infants out of the windows, or with junkies chocking their own kids to death. We do not have to make any preemptive inquisition.We do not have to send a pedagogue with a taser, next to each human mother 24/7, for constant surveillance - because, well, statically mothers perform infanticide much more often than fathers. We have courts, we have laws against child abuse, neglect, and violence. Bad parenting is still way too marginal to deprive people of one fundamental human possibility, and so pervasively.

People would react fiercely against such policies, they would want to retain an obvious biological prerogative - against a tyrannical, unjustified expropriation. It is more than understandable. Children are not a national resources. They do not have to be raised according to what a team of self-appointed experts arbitrarily decides. And, just as a final note - if similar proposals found their way up to the legislative machine - I would surely support the protesters in any legal, or illegal way.





@ Matthew..

Although Parent licensing is not the solution to world socioeconomic problems, I agree it would go some way towards a general reduction of world population growth. Hans Rosling has presented data that shows that more affluent societies have less babies, (presumably “selfish” needs to have children are supplanted by other wants and recreational activities, including successful careers etc). Yet western nations populations are still increasing at unmanageable levels, (at least as far as the welfare state and displaced employment levels can manage and maintain without undue stress and increase in austerity and hardship?)

Do men actually want children, or is it merely women, who value the need to fulfil their biological purpose, and exposed to social peer pressures etc, or is there a more maternal biological impulse that drives women to have children - we need some women to answer that question.

The implementation of parent licensing should not be viewed wholly from a directive that it is rational and objective, but rather how it would/could be implemented. If it becomes law, then this needs to be enforced using coercion and force, by penalty, fine and worse. This should be the measuring stick by which such a system should be evaluated, else we would already have parent licenses?


Population matters

http://www.populationmatters.org/?gclid=CNmIm9Gz17ACFW1ItAod2wJZ2w





I haven’t been following this discussion in detail, but I’m wondering whether we are seeing the issues of ethics and practicality as more separate than they actually are.

Going back to Peg’s original article, the claim seems to be that opposing parent licensing (or something roughly equivalent) while insisting on similar practices in other fields is “inconsistent”. But isn’t inconsistent thinking pretty well inscribed in the human genome? I’m not saying that there is no value in pointing out such inconsistencies, but we also need to take them into account when advocating policy measures.

Pursuing further the point of practicality, suppose that IEET were to make it official policy to advocate such a measure. (I’m not saying this is remotely likely or desirable, but bear with me.) What would we advocating exactly? Presumably we would want to see such a scheme piloted in some democratic country, or part of a country, either in the US or elsewhere. This has been suggested elsewhere.

From my (utilitarian) perspective, the question as to whether such advocacy would be “ethical” cannot be disentangled from practical considerations: i.e. what effect would such a policy have in practice. And to assess that in any way accurately, we would need to take account of the fact that people’s thinking about such a measure, and generally how they react to it, would be…“inconsistent”.





I think Valkyrie is correct and we don’t have the technology to make something like this remotely enforceable. I would argue that perhaps the Chinese “One child policy” is a possible test case for both its effectiveness and whether people would accept it.

The interesting thing with that policy is that many Westerners thought it a great idea, as long as it didn’t apply to them. It also has been partially successful in slowing population growth. There are other ‘side effects’ to be considered, but we’ll see.

I think you will find that if you remove immigration from the equation that the industrialized world has a negative population growth. This is to a large extent a reflection that high infant mortality and low education rates have a major effect on family size.

There is the other side of the equation that Matthew hints at. How do we determine what is healthy parenting? How are we going to agree what goes on the test? Do we measure parenting success by the health of the children? Or the health of the adults they become?

Perhaps we need to study health more effectively than we do. What attributes cause a child who grows up in the worst kind of circumstance to be well-adjusted and content, while another who we would have thought should be perfectly positioned for success falls apart?

The practical side to the licensing of procreation is that while we know pretty definitively what damages a child physiologically - alcohol, drugs, malnutrition, injury. We have a much poorer understanding of the psychological process of raising a well balanced mature individual.





@P. re “And on the bribery point, Giulio, are you suggesting we not require drivers or surgeons to become licensed?  After all, they too can bribe someone to grant them a pass. “

No, but I am suggesting that we should watch all regulators and administrators very, very carefully, because they are much more a problem than a solution.

In particular I am persuaded that, if we were to implement the parenting licensing that you suggest in today’s society, it would cause much more injustice and suffering than the current system.





@Andre’ re “Children are not a national resources. They do not have to be raised according to what a team of self-appointed experts arbitrarily decides. And, just as a final note - if similar proposals found their way up to the legislative machine - I would surely support the protesters in any legal, or illegal way.”

I see some theoretical merits in P.‘s proposal - also, at times it is difficult not to think of parent licensing, for example when we see some of very bad parents that we all know.

But in practice I agree with you and I think yours is the right attitude, especially the last sentence.





Regulate MASTURBATION and SEX.

Addictive processes and damaging inter-human relationships creates incommensurable harm to other sentient beings, indirectly, both psychologically and physically. Only educated, trained and capable humans should have access to it.  The benefits of regulated sex and masturbation, restricting it’s access to some small dysfunctional population of our society, outweighs any unintended counterproductive effect.





it matters not how inconsistent the thinking. Is it not a fundamental principle of buddhism that the truth reigns over anything thought can contrive?

there is a sanctity of life that shrivels from the caustic constraints of the kind of divide-and-conquer in which the mind specializes.

so, respectfully of course, to HELL with your rationality! For that is all it is capable of producing, after bludgeoning the truth with its self-congratulatory but unnervingly baseless logic.

i hear the buddha laughing.  The path to nirvana is THROUGH samsara. A regulatory structure designed to bypass this design by protecting children from suffering, is simply worked more thoroughly INTO the design, becoming the very next display of samsara that must then be excised if humans are to develop the capacity to appreciate and embody their true nature.

so i wonder if the cat does not chase its own tail, here! Much to the mirth and entertainment of whatever deities are attending the show… wink





It’s interesting that people jump to the assuming that ‘the poor’ are somehow most implicated in the proposal to license parents.  Since that seems to be what we’re talking about, I’ll say I don’t imagine that at all.  I imagine a program like drivers licensing.  No one has ever screamed ‘you just want to keep the poor off the road! Limit our mobility!’ 

I imagine by far the biggest component to be education.  Like drivers licenses.  At least here in Canada that’s the biggest component.  I don’t even remember how much it costs to renew my license, it’s so inconsequential.  And I didn’t, until just this moment, consider that a parent license might involve a periodic renewal fee.

I imagine the educaiton to be free.  Unlike drivers licencses.

And I imagine, yes, some income requirement.  Maybe that applicants must be a minimum of two parent partners (sex, race, color, orientation, all no matter) and have a combined income 20% above poverty level.  Becuase yes, kids do need food and clothing.

So I htink all this brouhah about the poor is just a smoke screen.





Fransisco, I am guessing that you are presenting an argument that licensing parents is the first step toward absurdity. Particularly in light of the libertarian flavour of your first post.

The reality is that the human species has separated sex and procreation, often to the dismay of the religion of the day for millennia. Archeological evidence shows the use of condoms going back before the ancient Greeks. The issue is now that we are almost to the point of a complete separation, would a license for parents increase the quality of parenting.

Anybody who drives knows the likely answer to that.

Mnashp, I’m sure the Buddha enjoys a good laugh. That doesn’t make it unnecessary to explore the issue. Simply shrugging and stating that suffering is a part of life, while true, is only partly true. I don’t see people lining up to be sold as slaves, or abused in other ways in the name of enlightenment.

Some suffering is useful, some is not. It is a wise being indeed that knows the difference before hand.





@ Alex..

But do we need the parental license? If we provide the Social education, the course, the certification, the qualification - do we then need the license? Of what value is this license other than to enforce by law, that those that do not possess one should relinquish their children?





@Peg
I would like you to address the points I raised (i.e. (1) parenting is an essential human activity so it cannot be subjected to centralized authorization, (2) millions of years of evolution already provided contemporary parents with a valid license, (3) pedagogy is not a science and it cannot provide rigorous criteria for licensing standards)
You are right when you say that economic discrimination is irrelevant in this case. But even the reasonable criteria that you introduced are absolutely arbitrary and would certainly not allow a number of potentially good parents to exercise their fundamental desire to procreate and take care of their kids.

@Alex
“Anybody who drives knows the likely answer to that.”
I disagree. I drive, and quite often. But I am firmly convinced that our system of driving licenses is not what keep streets (relatively) safe. It is a rather complex matter, but a very functional, spontaneous order can arise between interacting elements, without a centralized supervisor. There are many examples of street deregulation - with very positive effects.
You should try to drive in Naples once to see a few anarchic examples - and notice how smoothly traffic flows with virtually no respect for signs or rules.





Are you from Naples Andre’? So am I. I am a very good driver because I learned to drive in Naples. You learn to expect the unexpected and never let your guard down. Yes, in Naples most of the times the traffic flows rather smoothly with no respect for signs or rules.





Sounds like this is something everyone should have on their CV: “learned to drive in Naples” smile





Pastor Alex re: ‘Mnashp, I’m sure the Buddha enjoys a good laugh. That doesn’t make it unnecessary to explore the issue. Simply shrugging and stating that suffering is a part of life, while true, is only partly true. I don’t see people lining up to be sold as slaves, or abused in other ways in the name of enlightenment.

Some suffering is useful, some is not. It is a wise being indeed that knows the difference before hand.’

the point was not at all to shrug at suffering. You misread me.

allowing caesar to manage our child-rearing by PRESUMING that you are addressing the children’s needs is folly. It sounds more like somebody thinks they know how to fix things, when that can only be delusion.

just like a dualistic mind to dream that force is a way to get one’s way, rather than to educate and encourage. And to disrespect the lesser beings who obviously haven’t a clue how to toe the proper line without a vaunted authority to make sure they do what they’re told.

what kind of world do you envision handing over to the children you say you want to help?

and where’s the love, man? Where’s the wisdom in arrogance?





Loined t’ dwive ‘n New Joisy!”

How about this:
tax the churches to pay for free vasectomies and tubal ligations.





@ Pastor Alex re: ‘Mnashp, I’m sure the Buddha enjoys a good laugh. That doesn’t make it unnecessary to explore the issue. Simply shrugging and stating that suffering is a part of life, while true, is only partly true. I don’t see people lining up to be sold as slaves, or abused in other ways in the name of enlightenment.

Some suffering is useful, some is not. It is a wise being indeed that knows the difference before hand.’

you miss my point entirely if you think i give a shrug to suffering!

but allowing caesar to manage our child-rearing by PRESUMING that you are addressing the children’s needs is folly. It sounds more like somebody thinks they know how to fix things for everyone else, and doesn’t understand that it can’t possibly.

just like a dualistic mind to dream that force is a way to educate and encourage. To set itself up as a vaunted authority for the lowly and feeble-minded, who obviously need someone to make sure they do what they’re told, correctly and in a timely manner.

what kind of world would a mind like that create, to hand over to the children it somehow believes it is helping?

where’s the love, man? And where is the wisdom in such arrogance?





Marriage is a procreation license! And it is all the procreation license we need or want, all marriages should be allowed to have sex and reproduce offspring with no limits or restrictions or coercion (or coercive “education”). It’s not so bad that some parents aren’t as good as other parents, we can’t all be above average.

Everyone has a right to marry and every marriage has a right to have sex and conceive children. Not all types of couples are allowed to marry each other, for example people aren’t allowed to marry their sister, or a child, or someone married to someone else. But specific couples should not be prohibited from marriage for private reasons or genetic reasons (such as miscegenation laws that forbade couples to marry based on their genes.)

But we should prohibit intentional unmarried procreation, as in, joining gametes of unmarried people.





If you read my comments above you will notice that I talk about how little we know about what is actually important for proper development. I don’t think regulation will work, because what we need is more self-disciplined people, not more ways to infantilze people.

At the same time there are community standards that are unwritten, but much more effective than legislation. We will see, it is a useful discussion.





mnashp,
are you advocating for the status quo? Now this isn’t to say you are, however if you are, say so. What may clarify matters is if we were to have two parties (besides the small and fringe parties); rather than the GOP and Dems we would perhaps have the Stasis Party vs. the Change Party.
Because, IMO, the Right is hiding behind religion and or ‘conservative’ ethics to preserve a status quo which protects their interests for better and worse: e.g. better for them, worse for someone else. Naturally, it is more complicated, the Right possesses the same mixture of positive and negative intentions everyone else does; the reason I don’t trust them is they want opposition yet when one opposes them they in effect ask ‘why are you being so bolshie?’
Such is termed double-bind.

So I say, even merely for argument’s sake (as the public doesn’t want it), license parents. IMO it is best to make up our minds—poop or get off the pot.





In the end, I think the debate is primarily “How do we ensure that parents take personal responsibility for child rearing, and ensure that only responsible people have children.”

The answer, my friends is blowin in the wind.

I have argued countless times, as has David, that Transparency FORCES accountability and personal responsibility.  You want to make sure parents WILL take care of their kids, eliminate the ability to have accidental pregnancies, and the ability to make one sided decisions designed to allow parasitic behaviors (i.e. trapping someone into child support payments, having children merely to increase welfare checks, etc.) and enable sex to be engaged in freely without any possibility of reproduction, and you will solve one half of the problem. Transparency will solve the other half.





Guilo, yes of course we should watch the regulators carefully.

mnashp, on what do you base your claim re the sanctity of life?

Andre, food, water, and shelter are essential. Self-replication is not essential. Define ‘essential’.  Only a certain number of reproductive acts are required for species continuance.

Andre, I see no necessary connection between having something for a long time and having a right to that something.  Appeal to tradition/custom/habit fallacy.

Andre, evolutionary impulses do not define ethics.  they certainly don’t trump ethics.

Andre, to the extent pedagogy is based on psychology, there is much we know for sure. 

Andre, any licensing program need not ensure the best parents; it needs only to weed out the worst (such as drug addicts and convicted child abusers).  Paper tiger fallacy.

Andre, if you’re sincerely interested in fuller answers to your questions, read the 50-page introduction in my book.  I’m not going to reprint it here.

mnsasp, WOH big step from mandatory parenting course to “allowing caesar to manage our child-rearing”.  Paper tiger fallacy.





Licensing parents ought to be tried; if it doesn’t succeed, it doesn’t succeed. Know one thing, do not trust this sort of pseudo-religious rhetoric; everybody draws the line somewhere, and this is where I draw the line in the sand and say, ‘no more’:

“but allowing caesar to manage our child-rearing by PRESUMING that you are addressing the children’s needs is folly. It sounds more like somebody thinks they know how to fix things for everyone else, and doesn’t understand that it can’t possibly. just like a dualistic mind to dream that force is a way to educate and encourage. To set itself up as a vaunted authority for the lowly and feeble-minded, who obviously need someone to make sure they do what they’re told, correctly and in a timely manner. what kind of world would a mind like that create, to hand over to the children it somehow believes it is helping? here’s the love, man? And where is the wisdom in such arrogance?”

It is reminiscent of the writing on the old Dr. Bronners All One liquid bottle.. if some of you go for it, then go for it, I wont dig it under any circumstances—Right Speech doesn’t mean tolerating everything under the Sun.





This link is to a photo of the label on a Dr. Bronners All One Faith bottle; spirituality is one thing—gobbledygook is another:

http://static.altrec.com/images/shop/detail/swatches/DRB/8.43853_e.jpg





Couple of points

1)If people are not a “National Resource,” then what are they? People are considered (by political scientists, economists, social scientists, etc. to be the MOST IMPORTANT National Resource of a Country/Nation.

Since children happen to be people, this makes them a National Resource as well.

2) Too many people are conflating issues. Bribery is an entirely separate issue from “should we have parenting licenses.” So is how it is implemented. Of freaking course these are important issues.

But one cannot say ANYTHING about them until one says’ one way or another, that parenting licenses are a preferred policy.

Once that decision has been made, only then do these other issues even become relevant.





Oh, and currently death is a fundamental part of our biology, as is psychopathy, degenerative diseases, tooth decay, cognitive dissonance, etc…

That doesn’t mean that it is preferable thing.

Currently, I would say that children born to unfit parents is as large of a problem as tooth decay, or death.

Licensing seems, at this point, the most feasible route to dealing with the issue.

And there are already a MOUNTAIN of things which some members of society arbitrarily decide that other members of society may or may not do (both licensed and unlicensed).

To claim that birth is a “natural right” is to give it a pretty vaunted position in our society. It is saying that a pedophile has a “natural right” to have a child (who will then me mercilessly molested). It is saying that a psychopath has a “natural right” to have children whom he/she will then torture mercilessly, or turn into monsters in their own rights.

You see… We recognize that even pedophiles and psychopaths have certain “natural rights” (using the term to mean inalienable, or “rights that they have simply because they are alive). We go even further in describing some of these rights as being contingent. They are contingent upon the behavior or situation in which a person exists.

If some rights are “contingent” then we tend to restrict them in some fashion (for instance, with jail when a person transgresses certain aspects of society).

Why should this NOT extend to having children as well?

The only reason that people think they have a “right” to have children is because of a religious injunction that they should “be fruitful and multiply” (or other similar divine justifications).

But looking at this via a more reasonable frame, if there exists ONE situation where we might restrict a person’s ability to breed, then there are probably OTHER situations where a person’s ability to breed should be restricted.





Matthew,

I don’t see how you can argue that bribery and implementation issues only become relevant once we have already decided this is a preferred policy. If the policy is likely to be undermined by or exacerbate corruption, then surely this is an argument against introducing it. Similarly, is it not imprudent to decide on a policy without first having some idea about how it would be implemented, and what possible (intended and unintended) consequences it might have?





@Giulio
Around 75% of my genetic pool comes from Naples, and around 8,33% of my education - provided that every year, since I was born, I spend about a month there with my numerous, noisy relatives. Now I live near Bergamo, where people drive much worse, and more more predictably.

@Peg
Reproduction is an absolutely essential feature of organic units. I repeat it - reproduction is an absolutely essential feature of organic units. Check the current definition of life - or, just look around carefully. Homeostasis, growth, dynamic adaptability, and reproduction. If an individual material structure cannot possibly reproduce is either inorganic or pathological.

You are making a common mistake here. You confuse “life” with “individual survival”. Each of us represents a mere stage of a biotic cycle. We can reasonably say that each phylogenic sequence, generation after generation, is a continuum - and we cannot understand each of its stages without a reference to the whole. The phylogenic line is one, individual process. Each of us is but a temporary section of this multi-generational, atomic process. We are mere developmental stages. Do you know why we like to eat? Because it keeps our ontogeny going. Do you know why we like to have sex? Because it keeps our phylogeny going.

That said each of us can obviously avoid reproduction without ceasing to be alive. We can also choose to diet, cut our fingers, or become solitary hermits. Or we can choose to reduce our well-being to reproduce, sacrificing our career, our wealth for kids. Phylogeny and ontogeny can be in conflict, at times. We might do things very good for our individual form, but very bad for our phylogenetic line. In the end, however, phylogeny prevails. Because, potentially, it will never face death, contrarily from each of us.

So, parenting is indeed something fundamental for our species. We are not salmons - making millions of kids, without giving them even a small kiss. Parental care is a fundamental part of our reproductive cycle - and reproduction is essential to life. So, parents nowadays know well how to do their job. They had millions of years to learn the right skills, that knowledge has been carved into their flesh. We call it love, affection, parental instincts. It is ridiculous to deprive people from this reproductive rights in order to prevent extremely marginal risks. Yes it is a right. Not differently from the right to move, to breath, and to eat.

I believe that any authoritarian action that limits a fundamental biotic expression of individual lifeforms should be contrasted fiercely, and immediately - possibly, even with lethal force. This is why I am so against the idea of licensing parenting. You cannot ask people to accept the limits that you impose on their very existence. Or better said, you can ask - but expect aggressive reactions.

I wonder - is it techno-progressive to impose more limits on the human condition?

Of course Peg you are right in pointing out a certain inconsistent attitude, a moral schizophrenia. I agree with that. I would not limit human cloning for example. Why? If a couple can make ten kids, a single man can perfectly make and rear a few clones. Where is the problem? Surgeons? We can abrogate their licenses tomorrow. Men have asked other men to cut them open since millenia, hoping to be cured. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it did not. Given the current specialization of medical professions I do think that a state-issued license is just redundant. Unless we want to talk about the real nature of licenses and entry barriers - that is, how they preserve privileges, and tamper competition and innovation.

One last note : psychology is not science - unless also theology, astrology, and phrenology are.





@Matthew
“Currently, I would say that children born to unfit parents is as large of a problem as tooth decay, or death.”

Right, so should we institute some kind of dental license? Anyone who can demonstrate to take care of his or her own teeth can receive a license and can be left in peace - otherwise, a dental hygienist will come every night to impose an adequate tooth-brushing to the incapacitated subject. Anyone holding a tooth-brush without a license will be subject to a fine. Does it sound practical? If unfit parenting is “as large of a problem” as tooth decay, this is how a dental license would look like. I rest my case.





@ Matthew..

“If some rights are “contingent” then we tend to restrict them in some fashion (for instance, with jail when a person transgresses certain aspects of society).

Why should this NOT extend to having children as well?”

For child abuse and protection, this already exists, yet where specifically applied to parental licensing..

So what is a transgression of society? Not having a valid and up to date license to be a parent? What is the premise for the transgression, being a good and loving parent, or not having a valid license that says so? What is the penalty for transgression, Jail, fine, removal of children from their parents?

Again here, (and below also..), the application of parental licensing is not practicable nor socially palatable at this time? And especially here, where we really are talking and debating social ignorance, lack of education, and social degradation, (decadence), concerning the “nurture” of children.


“The only reason that people think they have a “right” to have children is because of a religious injunction that they should “be fruitful and multiply” (or other similar divine justifications).”

I would say that this is incorrect, as species survival biologically dictates that all, (most), humans have ability to have children, and assuming humans have a level of free will and choice, (to do right and wrong), they also have power over their bodies, (a very Transhuman ethic), so humans, (women), do have a right to have children?

This whole argument is based on the premise that “some” parents are bad and abusive and should either not have children or become educated as to be more caring towards children, so therefore “all” parents should be licensed to prevent this social problem, (concerning ignorance or decadence or whatever you may wish to assign root cause).

Without dragging religion into even this argument, yes there are religious tenets which promotes procreation and sex, (and even marriage), between specifically a man and a woman, as indeed Darwinian biological function dictates, and specifically to encourage survival of species, and more politically, the survival of particular religious memes and ethics. Yet is this really a valid argument in modern secular societies today, where folks really do not refer to the bible or religion when planning for children or becoming pregnant accidentally?

The question should really be.. do people, (humans), really “need” to have children to fulfil their lives, and if so, what memes drive this traditional social viewpoint?


However, if the premise for the argument for licensing was different, (as I have indicated), then sanction for procreation could be implemented universally as a part of social contract, in exchange for better quality of life for all, (pursuit of egalitarianism), ease of global suffering, and administered through due process as a social norm.

And if Hans Rosling is correct, then as technology provides for the needs for better quality of life for all, then folks will naturally break from the traditional social memes and thinking that they “must” have children to fulfil their lives, and thus parental licensing would not even be required?





Andre - I disagree with your statements here:

“parenting is fundamental for our species…”
“Parental care is a fundamental part of our reproductive cycle…”
“reproduction is essential to life”
“parents nowadays know well how to do their job”

especially the last statement.

by the way, are you a parent?
I am, and I am probably better-than-average,
and my wife seems very good -
but still, everyday we stare at each other when our kids confuse us, with look that say, “What the heck do we do now?”

Most parents I know say that it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever done and they wish they were better prepared. Those are the good parents. The other parents just don’t care.

My POV is that parenting is extremely difficult, it is generally not “instinctive” as you seem to claim, and that many people are not well-equipped - mentally, emotionally, etc., to be good parents.

I agree with Peg and I’ve written my own IEET essay on the same topic - “Ban Baby-Making Unless Parents Are Licensed”

IMO, parents in general need better skills and more societal support, and many people - should not be parents. The horrible parents cause damage that lasts a lifetime.





@Hank - yes, parenting is difficult, and therefore I don’t want nanny states anywhere near it. They already screw up much easier things for greed and control freakery.

I am sad when I see irresponsible parents, but the last thing we need is more state control on parenting. That has been tried, and we know the results.





“I agree with Peg and I’ve written my own IEET essay on the same topic - ‘Ban Baby-Making Unless Parents Are Licensed’ ”

Heads up; bottom line is it is about poverty- better a child should live in a decent or halfway decent home than in a substandard home with bedbugs, etc. Such a practical concern supersedes ideological considerations.





@Intomorrow Bottom line is NO it IS NOT about poverty.  I’ve known poverty stricken parents who were awesome at the job, with clean neat homes even in the midst of a slum, well disciplined, well adjusted and healthy children, and great pride that while they didn’t have a lot of money, they had a lot of love, caring, and nurture. In fact I currently live in a project, in a small town, with the highest paying jobs barely above minimum wage. It’s clean, neat, well maintained, and the residents, including myself, are proud of our small community, and not one single child here goes hungry, or gets neglected, and the sole “crime” that goes on around here is pot smoking.

I’ve also known children from wealthy homes who would have been better off being orphans, with alcoholic parents who they don’t see for days or weeks at a time, and who know that they are unwanted, unloved, and wouldn’t be missed if they died.

@Andre, that little meme there, the one assuming that every human just “instinctively” knows how to take care of a child is the one most responsible for children suffering. We refuse to educate our children in the realities of not just child care, but sex and relationships as well, under the blind refusal to acknowledge that most people HAVE NO FUCKING CLUE about any of it, and as a result, we have damaged and traumatized adults suffering through lives in which they stagger from one bad relationship to another, leaving a trail of broken homes, broken people, and far too many broken children.





@Hank
“by the way, are you a parent?”

Yes I am. I have a daughter.

“Most parents I know say that it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever done and they wish they were better prepared.”

This happens, I think, because parents nowadays feel a lot of pressure - especially in certain cultural environments. Men and women soon feel confused because of the numerous, inconsistent recommendations coming from experts, teachers, other parents, mass media, and books. They want to do the right thing, and they are afraid they might just be messing their kids up.
My opinion is that, as parents, we should all really take it easier. Parenting is mostly about providing food, shelter, and love to our children. These are rather accessible tasks for almost everyone - independently from their economic or cultural conditions. Obviously nobody said that parenting is something easy - but, I insist, we are born with the right skills. Unless, for some sadistic reason, we want to raise some kind of hyper-successful genius, with five Ph.D.s and an immense bank account. In that case, yes, we might not be up to the task.

Now I ask you a few questions. Do you think that those parents who complained to you about their unpreparedness would have preferred to be forbidden to raise their children? Do you think they would have liked it better - to be examined and possibly refused the possibility to be parents? What if those in charge would have not allowed you and your wife to have your daughter, because - well, according to their criteria, a transhumanist dad is too unconventional to be a good parent?





@Valkyrie - I agree with the first two paragraphs.

I also agree with the last, but how do you suggest to address this problem? If the solution is a nanny/police state that controls everyone 24/7 from the cradle to the grave, I think the solution is worse than the problem. Let’s keep looking for a good solution.





@Valkyrie Ice
I am not really assuming any particular innate knowledge. I just say that - if parenting would have been such an impossibly difficult task, me and you would not even be here today. I am making an exquisitely evolutionary argument here. I am talking about oxytocin and vasopressin. I am not saying that - anyway, momma knows best.

Yes, I know often, very often parents do a terrible job. My parents did a bad job, frankly. They did not provide any emotional warmth, they often humiliated me, and they were responsible for a number of very unnecessary painful situations. I have seen my father waving a knife in front of me, and I have seen my mother trying to suicide to make us all feel guilty. I spare you the rest. I came to terms with these events. They had their limits (and I have my own limits, I am not perfect myself, nobody is).
That said - would I be better off today if an expert denied them the right to have kids? I would not even be here! And, frankly, I like it to be here.

The problem here is not weather or not people should be free to have kids or to raise them. The problem is - why on earth should we delegate such decision to another person, or to a committee? This is like asking to be treated like cattle. We should never, ever allow any external agent to have such a pervasive biopolitical power on ourselves (see Foucault).





@Giulio

There is only one solution, a transparent society in which every individual is accountable for their own actions, or lack thereof.

I’ve pointed out repeatedly that in a truly transparent society in which no individual can escape accountability and in which there is no ability to hide your actions behind a wall of secrecy, the need for a “nanny/police state” is near zero. That “Nanny/police state” ideology stems from a desire to make people accountable in a environment in which secrecy makes accountability far to easy to evade.





@Andre

And I am adopted, and when I did not turn out to be a hyperjock, spent the majority of my life being ignored and mainly raising myself. Am I happy to be here? Sure. Would I wish my life on anyone else, NEVER.

No child should be unwanted. No parent should be allowed to evade the responsibilities of parenting. BUT NO ONE SHOULD BE FORCED TO BE A PARENT UNLESS THEY ARE A WILLING, CONSENTING PARTICIPANT.

I’m not talking about denying anyone anything. I am talking about ensuring that someone becomes a parent with a full understanding of the responsibilities involved, proper education to ensure that they have the mental tools available, and show sufficient dedication to the desire to indicate that they are not becoming parents on a whim, or to profit off the child, or because they think a child will provide a emotional crutch. You should at the very least desire the child FOR ITS OWN SAKE, and not because you think you are obligated to have a kid, or want it to fill your own selfish desires.

I don’t see licensing as a “barrier”. I see it more as a “certification” that you’ve met the minimal levels of dedication to indicate that you will love and nurture a child, and not subject it to a life of unmitigated misery.





@Valkyrie re “a transparent society in which every individual is accountable for their own actions, or lack thereof.”

Sounds good, but what I don’t like is “no ability to hide your actions behind a wall of secrecy.” I don’t do anything bad, but I just don’t like the idea of Big Brother watching me all the time. Come on, you don’t like it either.

I don’t need encrypting email because I don’t break laws and don’t plan criminal actions online, but I am considering to start encrypting every email as a political statement.





@Giulio

http://www.acceler8or.com/2012/05/3460/
http://www.acceler8or.com/2011/10/how-transparency-will-end-tyranny/
http://www.acceler8or.com/2011/07/vr-integration-requires-total-transparency/
http://www.acceler8or.com/2012/01/le-future-according-to-val-part-one-when-technologies-meet-interact-and-things-go-boom/
http://www.acceler8or.com/2012/01/the-future-according-to-val-part-2-consequences/

I don’t have the slightest concern about “Big Brother” Giulio.





@Valkyrie Ice
But licensing is - a barrier. Especially for those who cannot it. This is clear. No license? Sorry,  no kids. And - of course - sanctions must be part of the picture. Kids without a license? Cops will take them away from you, and make you pay for the transgression.

We can spread good ideas, notions of acceptance, tolerance, and responsibility. I agree with you here. We can ask for parenting education already at school. We can promote a joyful sexual culture. I am all for it. We can teach contraceptive methods to teenagers. We can do many things. We might even invite certain people not to have kids at all - as long as these people can simply ignore our advices.

What we should never do - is to coerce people into sterility, or allow a class of humans to determine everyone else’s reproductive rights. For those so concerned about children and their development - I remind that we already have laws against child abuse, neglect and psychological violence. We do not need a preemptive attack against probably “bad parents”. These eugenic doctrines are dangerous, I insist.





@Andre’ re “What we should never do - is to coerce people into sterility, or allow a class of humans to determine everyone else’s reproductive rights.”

Right. This has been done. Do I need to tell you guys when, where, and by whom?





“We do not need a preemptive attack against probably “bad parents”. These eugenic doctrines are dangerous, I insist.”

The continuance if the status quo is not necessarily harmless, either.





... continuance of the status quo is not necessarily harmless:
you are saying ‘let’s not interfere via nanny statism/ Big Brother; thus the outcome is stasists remain in power. You don’t like statism—but you wind up continuing stasism.





@Intomorrow - statists are control freaks, whatever their color. if we break free of yellow control freaks to become slaves of mauve control freaks, not much has changed. I want to get rid of all control freaks, of all colors.





That would be best; though don’t you sense if drastic actions are not at times taken we’ll be having these same discussions decades from now—as we cannot make up our minds what to do or how to go about doing what is decided upon?

Perhaps technoprogressive then becomes all techno and no progressive?





This is a very interesting argument… much of it concerns what the state can or cannot impose on the individual.

Individuals have already given up many previous privileges. I met people on my vacation who moved out of Marin County, to Sonoma County, because they wanted the right to shoot bears on their property.

The state has increasingly denied parents the right to do exactly what they want with their children. Parents can no longer keep their kids away from school, to make them do household chores all day. Parents can now longer beat their kids or neglect or abuse them without consequences. Parents (in the USA) can’t force their kids to marry someone they don’t want.

IMO the state has thus far acted to enhance the lives of children.

I do not think Eugenics 2.0 has to mimic the horrors of Eugenics 1.0.

I remain in favor of Parent Licensing - the immense responsibility of parenting necessitates a bit of aptitude and the learning of required skills, as Peg has ascertained.

Andre asks me questions - one answer is,
“YES - I have known many people who think their parents never wanted them.”

Another is, “Yes, most people would be far better parents if they had received previous education in related fields.”

I think Anger Management is important, also Nutrition awareness, Organizational skills, a modicum of basic reasonableness, and it’s crucial to not be substance-addicted or excessively crazy.

In my research, I found that the idea of parent licenses receives the most support from social workers who work with abused children, and other professionals who work with young kids.

Andre, almost everyone is glad they were born, but the rate of suicide attempt for people aged 21-51 with fetal alcohol syndrome is 23%. The link is: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_6883/is_2_11/ai_n28524972/





@ Andre

You are making the assumption that such a license would cost anything at all other than proof of education, proof of mutual consent between two parties, demonstrated stability of relationship, and proof that they can afford to raise a child without bankrupting themselves.





I believe the inconsistency emerges (primarily) from beliefs regarding reproductive freedom.

For the love of being intelligent, can’t we possibly converge toward alternate considerations of how the issue of bad parenting might be handled, without resorting to applications of force?

Transparency technologies, as Valkyrie brings up, will be a continual, increasing source of social pressure towards positive parenting. 

If one pays attention to prominent females in the futurist community, they will recognize that the seeds of social pressure aimed at valuing the informed and upstanding parent are well underway. 

Sadly, if one values the reproductive freedom of the individual, the right to decide if they can or cannot try to parent, and is not willing to accept any logic aiming to subvert that right to the state, they are pinned as unempathetic towards children. “Think about the children!”





@ Nikki..

Everyone here is thinking about the children, it’s just that some of us feel these goals can be achieved without a compulsory license?

Although the subject is well worthy of debate - always!





The question of whether it’s consistent to license NRT parenting but not ORT parenting is separate from the question of whether we could/should do it. What happens to ORT parents who happen to have an unplanned kid, and fail the exam? The amount of kids given up to social services would skyrocket. Or, we could just abort them. Good luck getting THAT passed. From a consequentialist point of view, this seems like it would be a textbook case of well-intentioned road-to-hell paving.

The right to bear your own kids, logically consistent or not, is such a widely held and fundamentally emotional topic for basically the entire human race that there is no chance in hell this would ever get passed, even in beacons of enlightened policymaking like the Nordic countries.





Glad to see that SHaGGGz has joined me (and Valkyrie Ice) in pointing out the elephant in the room here. As I said above, one cannot intelligently discuss the ethics of advocating a policy proposal without taking into account the politics. The fact is that people don’t think comsistently - never have, never will - and they are likely to react VERY badly to measures that restrict what they will likely regard, however “inconsistently”, as their natural-born right. If we want to pursue this idea at all we should do some thought experiments about how and where it could be piloted, and what would be likely to happen.





@Hank

Thanks for engaging. I see your point, and I presume you are advocating this policy with the best intentions - but, I still think that the possible risks connected with licensing parenthood surpass immensely its probable benefits. Nobody should have this kind of power over other people.

Also, I must say that - you did not really answer my questions. Probably I expressed myself poorly in the first place. I did NOT ask if your friends had bad experiences with their parents. I did NOT ask if they would have liked to receive more information about parenting, before having kids. My questions were different. Obviously I am not against spreading notions of Anger Management, Nutrition awareness, and Organizational skills. As I said, let us teach all this things at school. Licensing is, however, another business. It is not about getting more information. It is about receiving a necessary authorization to do something. No authorization, no action. Action without authorization, punishment. These are the terms of the discussion.

So I reformulate my questions, more clearly, I hope. You and your friends notice that parenting is difficult. Very well. You wish you were better prepared for the task. No problem, that is fine for me. Now I ask - would you (and your friends too) have preferred to be scrutinized, questioned, examined BEFORE having kids by someone in a white suit? Would you have preferred to be DENIED the possibility of having kids because that someone declared you UNFIT for parenting? This is what I was asking from the beginning. I bet that your friends, and you too, would not have liked to be denied the very natural desire to become parents.

I mean - don’t you feel the risk to be denied the right of being a father for absolutely arbitrary reasons, or for mere obedience to rigid protocols? Do not think that you will be granted a license for sure, only because you perceive yourself as a good father (or at least, better-than-average). What if the man in the white suit thinks otherwise? It is very possible.

Do you like the idea of parent-licensing anyway? You want to delegate such important, personal decisions to an external agent, because you think that you are not really able to form autonomously your judgment about weather or not to have kids? No problem, as you wish. Just be sure that me and my wife will never submit a license request. And we will help in all possible ways those who still want to retain this most natural freedom. If that is not possible here, we are more than ready to move to the Gobi Desert to get pedagogues off our back.





@Valkyrie Ice
“You are making the assumption that such a license would cost anything at all other than[...]”

This is a very crucial point. Our disagreement probably stars only here. You are smart, and I am sure you can fully understand my concerns and the very reasonable justifications behind them.

You see, the problem is that once that decision is out of your hands, you do not get to establish the criteria anymore. Once you surrender your decisional prerogative, you lose control over its conditions. Even if you vote, your vote counts only when it is part of the majority. And if they do not even allow us to vote, there is no possible way to tell which criteria the experts will establish. Maybe they will just those that you listed. But maybe not. You cannot tell, and - most importantly - you cannot do anything to determine those criteria.

At that point - there will be only two possibilities. Democratic, or non-democratic methods to establish these criteria for licensing parents. If the majority of electors determines - more or less indirectly - the criteria, they will change according all the time, according to the current Zeitgeist. Most likely, unconventional individuals are not going to get a license. Do you like that? I do not.
On the other hand, if a team of self-appointed experts will decide the criteria, we are hopelessly cut out of the decisional process. The problem now is that pedagogy is not a science. So we will be stuck with the arbitrary opinion of influential individuals. In other words - tyranny. Do you like that? I do not.





@Peter re “If we want to pursue this idea at all we should do some thought experiments about how and where it could be piloted, and what would be likely to happen.”

I will pass, because I don’t want to see this kind of measures even piloted. I think society should move toward more personal freedom, not less.





OK, since this debate is continuing anyway let us imagine that in some faraway land, perhaps in another galaxy somewhere, the idea of parent licensing has actually taken off politically, and is being implemented. Let us further imagine that this happened because it was perceived by a large majority of citizens that poor parenting standards was a serious drain on individuals’ quality of life, and that licensing was an appropriate way to address this flagrant problem. Not everyone agreed with the measure, but it was generally accepted that this was something that a democratically-accountable legislature could impose, and it has now been implemented for three years.

The purpose of the above thought-experiment is twofold: firstly to encourage people to think about how such a situation might evolve (is the policy successful? Can it be reversed, or is it in reality a slippery highway to hell?), and secondly to further illuminate the difference between such an “ideal-world” scenario and the real world in which we actually live.

Sime time ago I wrote an article on how IEET could have more policy influence, and in this context two questions arise in relation to parent licensing: firstly is this idea sufficiently realistic to be worth the attention of IEET readers and commenters if we want to actually make a difference to anything, and secondly how does the idea fit with IEET’s core (technoprogressive) agenda? To the latter question my answer would be that it is somewhat marginal.





If you are talking about whether bribery is an issue with a policy, or if there are going to be “unintended consequences,” then you are already talking about HOW TO IMPLEMENT that policy.

This is a de facto endorsement of the policy.

We don’t sit around any worry about such things for policies which we believe to be BAD IDEAS to begin with.

You don’t say “I am completely against the policy of a bubblegum tax. But how could we implement such a tax, what sort of corruption might we have to worry about…”

No, rather… If you are completely against a bubblegum tax, then you end the discussion at that point. There ARE NO “unintended consequences” of a policy that is never meant to be implemented.





@Peter re “how does the idea fit with IEET’s core (technoprogressive) agenda? my answer would be that it is somewhat marginal.”

My answer is that it is not only marginal, but opposed to IEET’s core (technoprogressive) agenda, or at least to my interpretation of it. Forget the techno part, think of the progressive part. The reproduction rights of oppressed minorities were limited by the nazis. Since when they are progressive?





Also…

Did people miss the point that we ALREADY use force against parents who are deemed to be unfit parents, removing their children from them.

MANY children never have the benefit of being “removed” from a hostile living situation, as they die of either intentional, or unintended consequences of these situations, and often the parents are not charged.

From a simple utilitarian point of view, making sure that these children are never born makes the most sense.

Especially when one considered that these children will themselves often go on to be abusive and unfit parents.

And the rest of the community is FORCED to pay for the consequences of these unfit parents by having to pay for the increased costs of social services in a community.

People Need to get it through whatever cognitive block is in the way that ALL SOCIETIES involve a level of “force” in order to get the non-compliant to comply with the agreed upon norms of the community.

Without the application of communal force, it comes down to the application of individual force against other individuals.

And that produces chaos.





In addition…

The comparison with “tooth decay” was not about brushing teeth. It was about the fact that it requires a trained professional to deal with decay once it has set it. Very few people I know are willing to let their gardener, or pool cleaner fill a cavity.

And thus, we DO LICENSE dental hygienists, and dentists.

Having a child is not just about learning to brush your teeth.

This is essentially saying that just because you have mastered the skill of tooth brushing that you are a qualified orthodontic surgeon.

Just because you know how to operate your sex organs doesn’t make one a fit parent automatically.





And not having a valid and up to date parenting license would only be a transgression if you attempted to have children.

Just like not having a driver’s license is not a transgression against society until you try to drive.





@Peter
I agree with your desire to bring some realism into the discussion. Unfortunately - we are already talking about realistic scenarios, I fear. Authorities have denied the right to reproduce and to become parents many times in the past, to a number of individuals (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsory_sterilization). The introduction of license system is just a more civilized version of those eugenic policies. Yes, there is no invasive surgery. But the expected results are the same. The unfit ones should not breed. Period. I think that it would not even trigger particularly strong protests, as long as the majority of people can receive the authorization quickly, and at no nominal cost. Not differently from other situations in which most people accepted to inflict terrible abuses on marginal individuals, for a greater, common good (a purer race, a more balanced budget, more jobs, etc.).

About the second question that you ask - I am also inclined to consider this as a marginal issue. Yet, there is undoubtedly a certain tendency towards “technicalization” of parenting, and more in general of human education. The idea that we can scientifically improve our educational skills, to raise better men, is not marginal at all nowadays. Even if I certainly approve its goals, I have serious doubts on the validity of this approach. Anyway it is out there, and we have to deal with it, somehow. So I ask, is it better to improve the quality of next generations by raising our educational standards, or by sterilizing unfit couples? To me the answer is quite clear, especially because our legal systems already punish criminally bad parents, after a fair trail.





@Matthew re “Without the application of communal force, it comes down to the application of individual force against other individuals.”

Communal force is force applied by the group/party in power. In some places and times in history, force applied by the group/party in power has resulted in atrocities. Do you really think that such things can never happen again, for example here and soon?

This does not mean that communal force should never be used, but it does mean that it should always be considered as an extreme measure that must be restricted to extreme circumstances.





I should also point out that I am a pretty good example of what happens when unfit parents raise a child.

I can’t go into all of the details, but the world would have been a far better place without me in it. Any sort of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” montage would have the angel saying “Damn, the world WOULD be better off if you had never been born.” Although I have managed to rescue a lot of cats, my influence on humanity has not been nearly so beneficial.

And I think of how very close to being even worse I have come we’re it not for lucking out with several people providing a acceptable outlet for some of my more sociopathic tendencies when I was younger.

But I needn’t look to hard to find examples of others who should never have been born.

I used to correspond with G.J Shaeffer, for instance. Google him. He should never have been born.

And US Dept. of justice numbers indicate that for every GJ who has been caught, there are 10 who haven’t (roughly 500 - 5,000 per year in the USA depending upon whose numbers are used).

And simply intervening during childhood is often not sufficient.

This whole opposition to parenting licenses reminds me of the “Pro-Life” community’s “sanctity of life” arguments about abortion.

Peg’s initial argument still stands.

It is inconsistent to support certain restrictions on certain reproductive technologies, and remain against restrictions on breeding in general.





@Andre

The main disagreement is that you assume tyranny will be possible. I do not.

http://www.acceler8or.com/2011/10/how-transparency-will-end-tyranny/





Valkyrie, I am afraid history shows that tyranny is always possible, anytime, anywhere. Don’t underestimate the resolve and ability of the tyrants. We can use cool technologies against them, but they can use the same cool technologies against us. They have the power and the money.





Andre - to answer your question above -

No, I would not be happy if there had been an assessment system set up that did not allow me to have children.

But that is just a “worst case” scenario.

I’d be happy if I’d had a quality education in parenting beforehand,
and I’d be very happy living in a society that had vastly reduced - via parent licenses - the neglect, malnourishment, sexual and physical abuse of children, the unwanted births, the fetal alcohol births, the drug-and genetically-disabled births, etc.

I’d risk a worst-case scenario for a chance to live in a world where everyone is born in good health with excellent parents.





Then perhaps IEET should be promoting and lobbying for more education of teens and young parents, rather than pursuing an agenda towards licensing, since this serves the same motive for social progress?

Let’s face it, there is no scenario where forced abortion should be deemed acceptible, and where some problematic parental license transgression would occur, the practicable solution is still education for the parents, certainly not removal of children for the sake of a license?





Most of the disagreements here seem to revolve around the idea that “Reproduction” is a “Right.”

I don’t see anywhere that this is spelled out simply because it is a biological possibility.

So is murder, but we don’t think of that as a “Right.”

And, again, it is a separate issue that some might try to impose an ideology upon such a policy from the policy itself.

When the issue of “Parent Licensing” is being discussed here, one would think that this comes with the assumption that things like Sexual Education would be a preliminary step in the implementation of that policy, so that we would mitigate things like unplanned pregnancies.

This step along would probably mitigate most of the need for parenting licenses.

Most of the problem parents tend to be unplanned parents, or parents whose religious beliefs allow for no options.

And, yes… In this case, I am completely for restricting religious freedoms when it comes to reproductive rights, especially when those religious freedoms are harmful to the society as a whole.





@Giulio

“There is no other possible end to the Surveillance Arms Race then total surveillance, and no manner in which I can foresee a totalitarian power group being able to prevent infighting among it’s members and retaining unidirectional surveillance capabilities for any length of time longer than a few years. The SOLE way that a power group would be able to accomplish this is for one single individual to somehow become god with full powers of omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, and eliminate free will among the remaining human race.

Anything involving humans will inevitably give way to factionalism and infighting as various individuals seek to elevate their own personal status at the expense of others. The Status Game effectively ensures that no totalitarian system will ever be stable, and since technological progress cannot be halted, no technological system of control will ever be established which will not eventually be broken. This logically leads to the inescapable conclusion that total surveillance will be reached, and that universal access to that surveillance will also become a reality. This means that secrecy is inevitably doomed.”

I am sorry Giulio. Your line of reasoning in this regards comes across to me as “Yeah, but my paranoia about this supersedes your logic.”

I suppose we shall simply have to agree to disagree and see which of us is right in 50 years.





@Valkyrie re “Your line of reasoning in this regards comes across to me as “Yeah, but my paranoia about this supersedes your logic.”

Yes, this is what I am saying. My feeling that this is just wrong supersedes logic arguments. Others may, of course, have different opinions, but I will always support reasonable privacy rights.

Logic is overrated when it is not tempered by common sense. Logically, there is just one way to ensure that nobody will suffer ever again: kill everyone now.

re “I suppose we shall simply have to agree to disagree and see which of us is right in 50 years.”

Agreed!





@Giulio

“But the death of secrecy does not mean we must sacrifice privacy, because privacy is an active social process, not a static one. We don’t have privacy merely because of walls and curtains and other devices which hide us from each other. We have privacy because we choose to grant it to each other, and even in an age of total surveillance, we will still have that power. Sure, maybe you can google everything about me, but if I know you are googling me, and exactly what information you have on me, and I have the exact same ability to know everything about you, what advantage does that ability give you? There is no asymmetry of information, no ability to deceive. I can’t lie to you about who I am, and you can’t lie to me about who you are. I have no incentive to be untrustworthy, because only negative consequences remain once I can no longer hide my untrustworthiness behind a veil of secrecy. That same fact will be true for every member of society, and thus eliminate the ability to “game the system” regardless of who you are, or what level of society you perceive yourself to be on.”

I too support PRIVACY, Giulio. I simply do not see it as a synonym for “Secrecy”. What have you lost being under surveillance in your own home if only you see that recording under normal situations, and know when and who is observing you at any given time, because they have to have your permission to do so? As Leyvenn points out, you will still have your bunker, and you can keep it as closed as you like. You merely will no longer be able to “lock the door” nor have a need to.

Nor will you be able to “lock the door” for someone OTHER THAN YOURSELF, which is the issue we have regarding keeping parents accountable for caring for their children. Secrecy allows such parents to prevent others from seeing the neglect/abuse/harm they cause to their children, transparency eliminates that ability.

The misunderstanding I see being made over and over is people assuming that “force” is necessary in any of this. I do not.  Divorcing sex from procreation is not something that NEEDS to be forced. Once it is possible, I see it being OVERWHELMINGLY DESIRABLE to the majority of the human race. It’s a goal we’ve been chasing for all of history. It’s also likely to spell the end of most religions, and their taboos intended to control reproduction. The ability to engage in sex as often as one wishes without the inconveniences of procreation is likely to spark considerable resistance in these ideologies, but given historical human behavior, it will be unable to prevent the damn near universal adoption of voluntary “reversible sterility” which does not prevent the ability to reproduce, merely prevents it from occurring WITHOUT MUTUAL CONSENT FROM BOTH PARTIES INVOLVED.  This eliminates the larger part of the problem, UNWANTED CHILDREN.

Transparency eliminates the second part, Parents who cease to be accountable to their children.  When the child can hold the parent to account, and cannot escape being accountable themselves (eliminating deception) then there is very little need for worries about “tyranny”, and no reason to suppose any kind of burden on peoples choice to have children beyond minimal limitations on child bearing beyond proof of education in child raising, proof of ability to provide child care, and proof of a stable relationship likely to last at least through the child’s first few years.





@ Matthew..

One could counterwise argue, that what “right” has anyone to “deny” a woman her wish for fullfilment to have a baby? And I specify women in particular because it is “natural” for women to have babies, as with reference to biology and nature. Men can also get broody, yet I would say it matters less to men as to whether they have children, and it is rather the woman whom is the key protagonist, and whom is continually conscious of a biological clock and timescale for having children?

Could a woman, or couple, be denied a parental license for a medical condition or neurological disorders such as Aspergers, other Autistic spectrum, bi-polar, history of clinical depression, for being disabled, blind or deaf etc. The opportunities for license rejection are endless, and only limited by contemporary socially accepted norms?

This takes us a long way from abusive or indifferent parenting?





@Valkyrie re “I too support PRIVACY, Giulio. I simply do not see it as a synonym for “Secrecy”. What have you lost being under surveillance in your own home if only you see that recording under normal situations, and know when and who is observing you at any given time, because they have to have your permission to do so? As Leyvenn points out, you will still have your bunker, and you can keep it as closed as you like. You merely will no longer be able to “lock the door” nor have a need to.”

But I want to be able to lock the door. I may choose not to lock it (actually I would choose to leave it unlocked most of the times, or even all the times) but it must be my decision. If I am forced to leave a door unlocked, I lock it and keep it locked.





YOUR COMMENT (IEET's comment policy)

Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: Scientists Cure Ebola in Monkeys — and Humans could be Next

Previous entry: Nanofactory Movie

HOME | ABOUT | FELLOWS | STAFF | EVENTS | SUPPORT  | CONTACT US
SECURING THE FUTURE | LONGER HEALTHIER LIFE | RIGHTS OF THE PERSON | ENVISIONING THE FUTURE
CYBORG BUDDHA PROJECT | AFRICAN FUTURES PROJECT | JOURNAL OF EVOLUTION AND TECHNOLOGY

RSSIEET Blog | email list | newsletter |
The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.

Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
56 Daleville School Rd., Willington CT 06279 USA 
Email: director @ ieet.org     phone: 860-297-2376