RIP Philo

How many kids to have?

I am a smart veterinary student, and my husband is an uncommonly intelligent engineer. We have degrees from prestigious universities. However, diabetes and heart disease run in my family, and my husband has Crohn's disease and a congenital heart problem. If we had three kids, we would contribute to overpopulation, but perhaps (even despite the medical issues) marginally increase the quality of that population (aren't I pretentious!). May we ethically have more than two children?
Permalink Alison Cornwall, Davis, Calif. 
March 25th, 2007 6:34pm
Mah head asplode.
Permalink John Haren 
March 25th, 2007 6:38pm
Repost Dildo.

(Someone's gotten ahold of a first-year philosophy text.)
Permalink Send private email Ward 
March 25th, 2007 6:40pm
Two similar (ethical) posts in quick succession from people we've never heard of.

Or just someone who recently watched "Idiocracy" ?
Permalink Send private email xampl 
March 25th, 2007 6:40pm
You are so modest too.

In case you hadn't noticed, there is a severe underpopulation problem at the moment. There is a declining birth rate amongst the quality, educated people such as yourself, and the difference is being made up by immigrants. If you don't want the country to be overrun by ignorant peasants, your duty is to have as many children as possible.
Permalink Send private email bon vivant 
March 25th, 2007 6:43pm
It would be best to get sterilized and then put all your efforts into your career. Any extra cash you have, donate to charities helping feed people in the third world.
Permalink Practical Economist 
March 25th, 2007 6:50pm
To be honet, if I were you i'd be thinking of creative ways to kill myself.
Permalink what are you reading for? 
March 25th, 2007 6:54pm
Permalink son of parnas 
March 25th, 2007 7:01pm
Implying that one social class is more entitled than another to have children tiptoes toward the goofball eugenics that should be an ugly anachronism. Even as a matter of nurture, not nature, those who attend "prestigious universities" have no greater moral right to reproduce than those at community colleges. Or no college. In fact, one might argue that it is in nobody's interest to replicate Harvardians. And by "one" I mean me, and by "Harvardians" I mean Robert McNamara. Or do I mean Henry Kissinger? Or is it the jealousy talking? If there is a strong chance of your passing on a serious malady to your children, you might forgo having (but not adopting) kids. How great a chance? That's something for you and your husband to discuss with your doctor.

There are, as you suggest, economic and social arguments against having a third child, but they need not automatically preclude your doing so. What's critical is that in the country as a whole, and on the planet as a whole, the fertility rate does not exceed the replacement level, which in the United States is just over two kids. Some families will have one or no kids, and thus others may choose to have three.

One key factor in achieving this global average is to raise the standard of living for all. Families in wealthier places like the United States or Western Europe tend to be smaller. (Other significant factors include the empowerment of women and increased access to education.) If you are committed to not increasing the population, to not risking passing on a serious health risk and to having a big family, consider adoption. It's not just DNA that determines how kids turn out.