26 January 2021

The Empowerment Strategy to Reduce Fertility Rate

Reducing fertility can be achieved through draconian policies such as forced abortions found in the One Child Policy or under policies implemented by Nazi Germany. However, the problem with these policies is that they cause suffering and are generally not popular today. 

However, empowering women has been found to work ie educating women so they can be educated and have independence and autonomy and to have family planning clinics allowing the woman to have contraceptives and abortions. These can be implemented through government policy. 

Another way fertility can be reduced is through empowering children. Basically this means giving children what they want, giving them safety and education. For example, in the past child labour was legal which meant that children suffered, but it also meant parents were able to make money by having children because they can put their kids to work to earn money for themselves. Laws that banned child labour effectively made having kids more expensive and so people had fewer kids. Another example of child empowerment are regulations on childcare. In some countries there are safety laws on childcares requiring them to be staffed by suitably qualified people or to have certain health and safety standards. This raised the price of these childcares thereby making having kids more expensive but the result is that kids have better childcares. The same applies with schools as well as things like child seats in cars. There have been studies done that show that higher child car seat requirements reduce fertility rate. This is a win-win because fertility drops which reduces suffering but also the children experience more safety in cars. 

Another area where "empowerment" may apply is for animals. Efilists are concerned about animal suffering and rightly so as animals suffer considerably especially in wildlife. However, the Calhoun rat experiment shows that if you give a population of mice infinite food then over time the population will dwindle. Another famous experiment is the rat level experiment that shows that when rats press a lever and are rewarded and become addicted to that reward then they will continually press that level even if it means they forego reproductive opportunities. 

Empowerment even applies to old people. If you make old age more pleasant eg give good healthcare, then many people may be happy to grow old and have the government help them rather than their children. Government spending on welfare for the old eg pensions also help give the old a better lifestyle with less suffering. However, a consequence of all this is also that more government spending on the old means more taxes on the young in order to pay for the old which means that prospective parents will need to work even more. Money that goes to old people via the tax system is money that is likely diverted away from young people who would otherwise have used that money to have a baby. 

My main point is that there seems to be a pattern here that "empowerment" tends to reduce fertility rate. This is important because "empowerment" is an easy sell. Why not educate women? Why not make childcares safer? Why not feed animals? By focusing on empowerment, you give immediate relief from suffering, you give beings what they want, and the result is less procreation, which leads to long term reductions in suffering. 

14 January 2021

Antinatalism and the Non-Vegan COVID-19 Vaccine

Many vegans (including myself) face a moral dilemma because the COVID-19 vaccine has both animal products and is tested on animals. Vegans are faced with a choice between using the non-vegan vaccine which causes harm on animals or not using the vaccine which would cause harm on humans e.g. it would cause the spread of COVID-19, which could cause an old lady in an aged care home to die.

In my opinion, this is a difficult situation, and it is hard to know how to reduce harm, but this is nothing unusual and, in my view, backs up the argument that antinatalists make that all humans cause harm.

Antinatalism is a philosophy that assigns a negative value to procreation. The reason why antinatalisms advocate against procreation is because life is suffering. When you have a child, that child is exposed to suffering. He or she may grow up and suffer from old age or from atrocities such as rape or even milder suffering such as depression. Furthermore, that child that is born will cause others to suffer. A great example of how many humans cause suffering is meat consumption. Human consumption of meat causes animals to suffer. However, even if someone is vegan, there are other ways that they cause harm. For example, if you buy a t-shirt, there is a good chance that there is slavery in the supply chain. As a result, more demand for the t-shirt causes more supply for slave labour, which increases suffering. 

Now we have another source of suffering, which is the vaccine. Life, in order to sustain itself, consumes and exploits other life. This is why, throughout evolution of life by natural selection, there has been a considerable amount of competition, aggression and suffering. Life is suffering, and so in order to reduce life we must reduce life. 

Testing medicine on animals works because many animals are similar to humans biologically. If medicine is tested on animals and if it doesn't work on animals and it is toxic for animals, there is a good chance it will be toxic for humans as well. However, even more effective than animal testing is human testing. If the COVID-19 vaccine were tested on a group of humans, many people who believe in the goodness of humanity would still take the vaccine even though it is tested on humans, but it doesn't necessarily mean they are racists. 

Is Urban Sprawl Vegan?

The documentary below is about urban sprawl. At the beginning of the show, it describes how a farming family is forced to sell their farm because of pressure for property development. However this farmer killed cows and chicken, so it made me wonder about the role of urban sprawl in reducing animal slaughter.

The argument is that urban sprawl is bad for the environment because it uses up more land. However, by using up more land would this increase the cost of raising animals or growing the crops needed to feed animals? This would increase the cost of meat and may lead to fewer animals being slaughtered.