Abstract realities

Professor Christine Overall recently called on individuals to view childbirth through a lens of ethics instead of biological destiny during a talk she gave at Queen’s. Many of the concerns she raised are inapplicable to real life and, ultimately, don’t explore some of the more tangible nuances of the debate surrounding the ethics of childrearing.

Overall argues childbirth raises ethical concerns, as one is bringing a child into the world that didn’t consent to be born. Furthermore, she claims that parents never know what kind of impact their child will have on society.

While philosophizing on these questions can be interesting, Overall’s argument ultimately has very little sway in the real world. She’s put herself in the same position that many academics do — she philosophizes in her ivory tower while remaining out of touch with the more specific questions that matter on the ground.

In reality, the ethics of having children rely heavily on the circumstances of the parents and on the resources available to them — one has to ask more specific questions relevant to the given situations instead of simply philosophizing on large ideas

There are of course those parents who are ill-equipped and ultimately too irresponsible to raise kids on their own, but many parents who make the conscious decision to have children are well-equipped with the resources needed to raise a child safely, healthily and responsibly.

At the end of the day, this debate is too full of grey areas. Of course one can’t predict what their child will do once they’re born — there is an inevitable element of uncertainty in parenting.

There is value to philosophizing on certain topics, and there are undoubtedly ethical questions to having children, but the arguments presented by Overall are too abstract and inapplicable to carry any significant weight in modern society.

—Journal Editorial Board



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