Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Overpopulation and Kant

The moral imperative - adopt a maxim and if you can universalize this maxim -then it becomes a moral imperative. Something like that.

This was a thought I had over the weekend while admiring the architecture of Mies and Rem at IIT in Chicago.

procreation and the environment

basically the earth is suffering from a depletion of resources, perhaps we are procreating too much...

if i make it a moral imperative not to have children - i adopt it and everyone else will adopt it - then humanity will cease to exists.
So obviously this is not ethical according to Kant.

but if i have children, and so everyone has children- then we will have overpopulation - again bad .

Number. So we need to include numbers. it is not an either/or question but an amount question. How many children is it ethical for one person to have according to Kant's moral imperative.

Perhaps every person who wants can procreate 1 person - to keep population constant - or reduce it a bit.

This is one of the reasons we need to empower women in developing countries - educated women engage in family planning -
then we wont have to resort to Kant

Some links for the day:


  1. Hi there,

    I'm writing a paper on this now, and just a heads up, kant would actually allow people to "act on a maxim" to have no kids. For kant it always comes down to reason and consistency. If everyone has 0 kids, then everyone can still continue to have 0 kids. The people who don't get born as a result obviously can't have 0 kids, but they don't exist so they are excluded anyway :)

    consider the example of cutting in line. I can't act on a maxim to cut in line. Because if everyone cut in line, there would literally be no line to cut!

    Thanks for the entry though, helped me flesh out my paper a bit :D

    ~Hadrian from Halifax

  2. Doesn't Kant say the ends don't justify the means, and therefore would not put a limit on family size because on what the potential consequences would be?