IEET > Rights > HealthLongevity > Staff > Kyle Munkittrick > ReproRights
Sir, Could I See Your Breeding License?
Kyle Munkittrick   Oct 25, 2010   Science Not Fiction  

The whole discussion about what we’ll find immoral in the future got me thinking about that little group often described as our collective “future”: children. We often hear about children as our future when someone says, “Think of the children!” or “We shouldn’t leave this problem for our children to solve!”

Children of Men, Ender’s Game, and A Wrinkle In Time, to name a few sci-fi classics, all place the symbolic future in the hands of either children or a specific child. If children are our “future,” then who gets to have and raise children in the future will probably be pretty important.

Why then are we so cavalier about who we let have and raise them? As technology enables more people to reproduce, environmental pressures make each new life a bigger burden, and our understanding of child psychology improves, it’ll become more and more evident that just because a person can have kids doesn’t mean they should have kids. My guess is that, decades down the road, future generations will require a license to reproduce and start a family. That sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

The thing is, we already have sort of a “family license” system. It’s called adoption. If you are adopting, or trying to use an assisted reproductive technique (ART), then you have to meet some requirements. Adoptive parents must meet not just minimal standards like “no history of violence” but also quite high standards of stability, concern for the child’s welfare, wealth, and other characteristics reviewed through applications and interviews. Those who would use ARTs are often given more than an eyebrow raise by their physicians if they’re over a certain age or have a given lifestyle choice. Regardless of what criteria must be met, the point is they are always stricter than the criteria a couple must meet to be able to reproduce in the, uh, standard fashion, because there are no criteria (besides the reproductive biology) for being able to have kids unassisted.

So, what gives? If you can have children naturally, you’re free to have as many as you want and basically do what you want with them. The only exceptions are parents so horrible that the state steps in and takes them away. If you can’t or don’t want to have children naturally, then not only do you have to go through the difficult and complex processes of adoption and/or ARTs, you have to be approved to do so. It’s double-damage on the equality front. Our society, it would seem, unconsciously believes “If you’re naturally able to have kids, then it’s OK for you to have kids. But if you aren’t able to naturally have kids, there might be something else wrong with you, and you should be investigated.” That kind of mindset is wrong - your ability to have kids is not an indicator your ability to take care of them.

Read the rest here.

Kyle Munkittrick, IEET Program Director: Envisioning the Future, is a recent graduate of New York University, where he received his Master's in bioethics and critical theory.
Nicole Sallak Anderson is a Computer Science graduate from Purdue University. She developed encryption and network security software, which inspired the eHuman Trilogy—both eHuman Dawn and eHuman Deception are available at Amazon, the third installment is expected in early 2016. She is a member of the advisory board for the Lifeboat Foundation and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.


Wow. Now here’s something I didn’t expect IEET to publish. You’ve fulfilled some of the wildest dreams of anti-transhumanists—hard to provide better ammunition for “transhumanism equals eugenics!” arguments than what’s given here.

I’m not saying that I disagree (or agree) with what you’re saying. I’m also not saying that I’d think it’s a bad choice for you to write what you have. But I am saying that you have taken a significant step towards ensuring that transhumanism will fail in the mainstream political arena. (The reason that I don’t mind is that—unlike much of the IEET—I don’t consider it very relevant what goes on in the mainstream political arena. Transhumanism doesn’t need the theater of politics to win. It can even be very good if we take a beating there, so everyone will understand that they should rather focus on strategies that can actually have a significant positive effect.)

By the way, would you also be willing to claim that the right to vote should be taken away from people who are too stupid and easily manipulated by the worst and most destructive of politicians? I think that would be a *very* similar position. (Though I’m not saying that I’d support it, and I certainly wouldn’t spend effort campaigning for such positions that only mean political suicide.)

With this breeding-license system in place, I’m curious to know what penalties you have in mind for those who have a child without a license. Also, do you anticipate these parents will find a back-alley “doctor” who will deliver their child, just so that they can avoid the penalty?

It doesn’t sound like he is talking about eugenics at all, rather he is talking about how low of standards we have for parental behavior. One could find other holes in his argument, but eugenic sentiment is not seemingly one of them.

Here in Germany you have to prove species-appropriate animal husbandry for some animals like chimps. If you hold a chimp without a license or under conditions not appropriate for chimps you’ll get a civil penalty or even jail time.

Most important is that children don’t have to grow up under horrible circumstances inflicted on them by the inability of their parents. You always have to weigh the freedom of some against any negative infliction it could have on others. In this case a bit less freedom would guarantee a lot less distress.

Such discussions always remind me about something important. Children should not be assigned with any religion. There should be a certain age where they can decide what religion they want to follow, if any. This doesn’t mean that religious people shouldn’t be able to have children but that they shouldn’t be able to force their children into a certain framework either. Parents should be forced to allow their children to take part in a educational framework based on contemporary ethics and knowledge. I don’t even have a problem with lessons in religion in school as it is part of human nature. But it shall not be focused on any truth value or a certain religion but an overview and comparison with non-religious ethics and truth-seeking.


Here at IEET we have gone from proposing the total legalisation of drugs to prevent criminal and black market soliciting, to proposing a way for babies and children to be open to the same potential problems?


Quote - “Lafollette is not arguing for any kind of elite standard defining the “best parents” but something like a driver’s license. Just as freedom of movement is an essential liberty, so, too, is the freedom to procreate. However, these rights are not absolute. Just as it is reasonable to have a person in charge of a car take a class and a few tests to make sure they’re capable, it is reasonable to have a person who will be in charge of a new life take a few tests to make sure they’re capable.”

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? Yet this should not be imposed, (as license), but rather should be treated as a part of social education, beginning either in high school or other. Larger families with maybe three generations still living may be more experienced and not have so many problems with tuition for young parents, or the availability of sharing responsibilities, knowledge, and self-help. Yet today many western families are either “nuclear” or even single parents trying to raise one or more children, and some of those without any form of viable income or quality of life.

There is some trend in western societies where parents rely heavily on state benefits, especially to help single or poorer parents, and the downside of this independence and freedom may have lead to a loss of community or social awareness and family education concerning the raising of children?

For example the children raised by a single parent may go on to have children of their own outside of support or relationship with a partner, and not think there will be any great difficulties, as this is the way they were themselves raised? By simply assuming that they can handle parenting as did their mother or father, is not a viable reason to ignore family planning or accept teen pregnancy. Child support services may not be enough to help guide single parents through stressful situations, and usually are no match compared with support from your own family.

It may even be argued that so-called third world societies and communities are more adept at supporting single parents with multiple children than we here are in the west, as their communal philosophy is stronger?

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.

Mr. Kruel, what is the difference between “Parents should be forced to allow their children to take part in a educational framework based on contemporary ethics and knowledge” and “Children should be forced to take part in a educational framework based on contemporary ethics and knowledge”?

In addition, I suppose that I should assume that religious people will be banned from teaching these classes on contemporary ethics.


1.) Badly phrased. I’m for mandatory schooling (and a default curriculum), which doesn’t exclude homeschooling if it is adequately checked.

2.) No, there are many people that master to somehow incorporate or dissolve religion and things that apparently contradict their beliefs. Take for example Francisco J. Ayala who “…has been called the “Renaissance Man of Evolutionary Biology” who is a geneticist ordained as a Dominican priest. “His “discoveries have opened up new approaches to the prevention and treatment of diseases that affect hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide…” Or take Georges Lemaître (a Belgian Roman Catholic priest) who proposed what became known as the Big Bang theory of the origin of the Universe.

My idea is that children are told the truth and taught how following ethical rules is in their own self-interest. This has to be guaranteed and parents who are against it shouldn’t get a “parenting license” wink

No: 13:15-18&version=NIV


Once you’ve seen bad parents - actually calling them ‘parents’ or their activity ‘parenting’ isn’t correct, more like ‘grown up kids’ and ‘tormenting’ - you inevitably become a supporter of some sort of licence for this most natural of things - unless you’re one of those bad ones yourself. But bad parenting doesn’t always end up badly - some children from troubled homes become wildly successful because they hated their circumstances so much that they had no choice but to excel to escape it and to find happiness.

Some people’s concept of bad parenting is another person’s concept of good parenting.  So, it is the transhumanist concept of good parenting - breeding more well meme-ified transhumanists - that you want everyone to be forced to adopt. And if you can’t sway people through reason, you’ll just have to use legal force.

The analogy to a driver’s licence fails, however. One has freedom of movement but not freedom of every means of movement.  Having and raising children does not have various means—either someon is a parent or he’s not. You can’t be denied a breeding license (like a driver’s license) and still be free to have and raise children (like you are to walk or ride a bike or take a bus). You need a better analogy to make it work.  Something more like a passport than a driver’s license, a passport into the Good Society envisioned by transhumanism.

But why stop at breeding licenses?  If that is justified by logic and any sound sense of justice, then go the whole way!  There should also be a Living License, too, and a Freedom License! If you fail to show you are qualified to live or if you lose that qualification later on, you are humanely euthanized for the sake of society.  The test should be within the first year after birth.  Those that earn living licenses who cannot show that they have the ability to use freedom wisely (tested around the age of 12) will be rounded up and put to work in factories or on farms or sweeping floors or as sex workers or as soldiers.  There will be no appeals and no re-tests.

Naturally, those unfit for freedom are also unfit to breed, so they will be sterilized.  Furthermore, if we work the freedom-failures hard enough and feed them only minimally, they will evenutally be unfit to continue living and will have to have their living licenses revoked.  As it is, their lives would not be worth living anyway, except insofar as they perform work that the rest of society finds desirable. When they become unfit for that, there is nothing left to their lives.

Only those with both living and freedom licenses would then be tested for breeding licenses (at age 30 or so). Those unfit to breed will of course still be free to have jobs and drive cars and such. Although… if someone is unfit to be a parent, is he not thereby unfit to have freedom? Pretty close, if not.

Since transhumanist ideals are in place for determining who gets breeding licenses, I’m sure that folks here could propose similar criteria as to who gets licenses to live and to be free. (I’m pretty sure I’d be denied.)

But honestly, these are not bad ideas for those who want to engineer society as well as the human race. It’s the only way, really. The cool thing about licenses instead of “rights” is that qualifications for licenses can be determined and changed according to needs, and the license once issued can be revoked. Rights have a nasty habit of inhering in persons above and beyond legal systems.  Licenses are better.  Who gets them and keeps is more easily controlled.

Transhumanism is about elitism after all - the elite memeplex, the elite new breed of person - and it is finally being honest with itself that somehow it needs to use force to stop its opponents who are too stupid to agree with it.

The premise that “children are our future, so we have a right to raise other people’s children and determine who has children and raises them” is flawed. It fails to account for the fact that “my” children are intimately also “my” personal future.  In denying that personal dimension to “my” children, you reason with only a partial appreciation of the reality, and so your conclusions also fail.

However, society does have a right to ensure that children are raised well or at least not badly - within limits.  As an advocate of personal freedom, I don’t see how your reasoning doesn’t reduce to you claiming a right to freedom for yourself and the right to deny it to others.  So, your demand for freedom has no basis in anything concrete - it’s not a principle that people have freedom so you want yours, too, or else you wouldn’t feel authorized to deprive others of it. Nor is there anything about “you” that a reasonable person would say, “Now there’s someone who deserves freedom when other people don’t!” Unless you define “reasonable” as saying that about you.

OK, Kyle, on the surface this seems a very hard core line. But the opposition is much much more hard core; the “parents” themselves. Knowing first hand how awful a young human life can be under the influence of a bad parent or two - or more, all mom’s boyfriends, stepdads etc. - I’m ALL FOR IT!!! There must be something we as a civilization can do against the less-than-useless critters many of us must call our “parents” for years until we can flee!

Mario Coccia writes, “Naturally, those unfit for freedom are also unfit to breed, so they will be sterilized.”

Though I can see you’re being facetious, it’s not as “out there” as you might imagine. There is a man who is high up in politics who has advocated mass sterilization.

Veronica: I know it’s not as out there as it seems. The proposal for breeding licenses - and the author termed it “breeding license” and not “childrearing license” - inexorably leads to totalitarianism and fascism if it does not originate there. “Lest we forget,” we have examples of such societies in the 20th century (if not currently), and people fought bloody wars to stop them.  I guess maybe, if transhumanism truly offers a good plan for the future and for society, that the US was on the wrong side of those fights.

Victim of parents: The solution you are looking for is for society to advocate strong, dedicated, life-long and loving marriages traditionally defined as the place to have children, and to help those marriages that fall short to improve. And then, only when all else fails, intervene in direct childrearing.  There are many ways of doing that without resorting to totalitarianism and elitism, but we’ve been chipping away at that for about 2 centuries, until we’re now at point of considering “final solutions.”  Funny how attractive totalitarianism becomes once we’ve gotten rid of the very things that prevent it.

Human breeding licenses already exist : in China every woman gets a license to give birth to one and only one child.
Fortunately (?)  (as far as I know) there is no discrimination between who gets the license and who does not get it.

@ Kyle
You don’t have a mother-in-law yet, do you?

@ Mario
I was with you right up until…“loving marriages traditionally defined “

We all have our biases; but you will know it by its fruit. What makes a family loving is not how the family is defined (traditional or nontraditional), but by the behaviors exhibited - love, kindness, acceptance, sobriety, responsibility, etc.

Since we all have biases in different places, part of our ethical system (whether religious or existential or bioethical) needs to be grounded not *just* in tolerance, but also in dialog, understanding, acceptance and forgiveness.

Extending freedom and rights to all is difficult.
Part of what makes it difficult is that the price is accepting that there will sometimes be abuses.

@ Alexander
On the religious education waiting until the child is old enough to process, I agree with waiting (on a voluntary basis).  As a Christian I agree because to teach a child the meaning of our faith usually comes down to turning our most sacred sages into Santa Claus, e.g. mythical figures (Noah into a guy who liked animals, God into the puppeteer in the sky, Chirst into everybody’s friend, etc.). Then, as a child matures that image becomes irrelevant and it can be hard for them to rewire the early programming to see the depth of wisdom that underlies the archetype. Personally I think this is why so many young adults leave the church.

Mario, nice comment. Did you know who I was referring to when I wrote, “There is a man who is high up in politics who has advocated mass sterilization.”? I forgot to mention the country: The U.S.

@veronica: I knew the country is the US, and I would guess the person you mention is a cabinet member or a “czar” of some kind, but the name escapes me.  I know I read something about it somewhere. (I am pretty sure it’s not the President, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out.)

@dor My comment about marriages “traditionally defined” is not to exclude people doing what they want.  And you are right about what makes a family “loving” in the basics. However, as far as I can tell from the science, children do better with one mother and one father in a loving family than in any other kind of situation. The question is “what’s best for rearing children?” and it seems to me that children might just have a right to what’s best for them, and thus to have one mother and one father who love them and each other.

The right to have and rear children has to be balanced against the right of the children to what’s best for them.  A family headed by a man-woman couple may be defective in terms of love, but it in theory can become perfected, which is something society has a legitimate interest in.  A family headed by a same-sex couple can never be perfected in the sense that - by definition and by intent - it can never provide a mother and a father. That defining intention is something society should have an interest in when fighting for the best interests of the child.

I am making no moral judgment here about same-sex couples nor whether they suffer from the same defects as man-woman couples to a greater or lesser degree.  I am simply taking a clinical look at the fact that man-woman couples and same-sex couples are not precisely the same from the perspective of the children’s best interests.

Crypto Eugenics is finally showcasing its hand within the H+ movement itself. Adding fuel to the fire is Aleksie’s comment which showcases the guarded hand the H+ movement uses to take their ‘message’ to market. Delete and distort so the next generation all want to become cyborgs. Yawn , how predictively boring.

Waiting for the brain upload folks , lets begin with the H+ crew smile


Mr. Muntkittrick, would you care to tackle the question I asked on 10/26 at 12:41 AM ? I’m very interested in your response.

Veronica, sorry for the delay!

I actually parse your “back alley” doctor question in one of my more academic papers. The answer is, in short, that the licensing should be of parenting, not of reproduction. A person is allowed to reproduce as they so desire, but if they do so unlicensed then they do so with the clear understanding that they will not be allowed to keep the child. The goal is to prevent people who are unfit to raise children from doing so, not to prevent anyone from reproducing.

One of my stipulations for practical implementation of licensing would be readily available contraceptives, birth control (male and female), reproductive counseling and abortions. Beyond that, those who become pregnant without a license would have multiple opportunities before and during pregnancy to apply for a license. If unable to meet the bare minimum conditions multiple times, then the child would be up for adoption by those who are licensed.

I hope that addresses your question. Feel free to ask more if you feel so inclined.

What happens to a species if breeding is controlled in order to keep only the individuals with the most desirable, i.e. the most evolved, attributes around (those that the majority of its members agree as being nice to have - symmetric features, being healthy, strong, and intelligent, and so on - simple and unambiguous stuff like that)?

Have we not seen this taking place and do we not already know the results conclusively? Is that a desirable goal or are there some counterarguments, particularly unobvious ones? Does selective breeding help increase anything worthwhile in the universe or not? Can it be harmful or is it always harmful?

I can imagine—easily imagine—many people, intelligent and moral people, refusing to go along with this license business, then they have a child, then the authorities burst in and take the child away, and then images are plastered on the internet reminiscent of the seizing of Elian Gonzalez.  Can’t you?

Eugenics now has a new name. H+

If I’m not mistaken, you’re talking about some kind of get-rid-of-the-undesirables-quick scheme? Ethically, of course, or your money back.

I’m sure there are lots of people supporting this. For the kids, you know.

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