Rationality and being child-free

It strikes me as on-topic for a blog about rationality to describe my thinking processes concerning working out why I wanted children.

The urge is eminently biologically plausible - I come from a long line of successful replicators, after all. And just because this manifests itself as "I want sex" doesn't mean I don't also want the abstract result of sex. I also like the idea of bringing up a child.

But I had to justify the urge to myself, as the social circle I found myself in (punk-descended indie rock in Perth in the 1980s) tended to be very ne... (read more)

(This was the last decade of the Cold War, the feeling of which I find almost impossible to actually explain to almost anyone under thirty. We were young, but we seriously expected we could die with minutes of notice and were powerless to stop such a thing happening

This is worth noting. Contrary to the hindsight-ridden narrative of the Cold War that is common nowadays, according to which it had already wound down by the 1980s, there was in fact serious anxiety about a USA-USSR nuclear conflict almost right up to the dissolution of the latter country.

(Th... (read more)

0CronoDAS9yTwo thousand zero zero, party's over, oops out of time... [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63z7dFcgraA]
2[anonymous]9yMy thinking was that since I obivously like anyone I decide to have children with and since the child's genes will be a mix of ours and the child is more likley to carry similar memes than a random one it serves my other values to adpot and promote "having children until indefinite lifespans or cryorevival are available" as a value. However my adopting "having children" as a value hasn't yet resulted in me having any children. Unfortunately I have a feeling that the loss of ability to consistently use contraception is much more robust than a positive desire to not use it when optimal, evolutionary speaking and that in the long run we can't really run away from this as long as agents keep replicating.

Rationality and being child-free

by InquilineKea 1 min read20th Nov 201064 comments


So I found this post quite interesting:


(I'm quite sure that the demographics of this site closely parallel the demographics on Gene Expression).

Research seems to indicate that people are happiest when they're married, but that each child imposes a net decrease in happiness (parents in fact, enjoy a boost in happiness once their children leave the house). It's possible, of course, that adult children may be pleasurable to interact with, but it seems that in many cases, the parents want to interact with the children more than the children want to interact with the parent (although daughters generally seem more interactive with their parents).

So how do you think being child-free relates to rationality/happiness? Of course, Bryan Caplan (who is pro-natalist) cites research (from Judith Rich Harris) saying that parents really have less influence over their children than they think they have (so it's a good idea for parents to spend less effort in trying to "mold" their children, since their efforts will inevitably result in much frustration). And in fact, if parents did this, it's possible that they may beat the average.

(This doesn't convince me in my specific case, however, and I'm still committed to not having children).