Carn: What about an atheistic argument why infanticide is wrong, was always wrong and will be always wrong?

Heres my argument.

  1. I am the standard of right and wrong

  2. Therefore, what i define as right and wrong is decided by my standards.

  3. I have decided that infanticide is wrong
    **
    Conclusion:** Therefore infanticide is wrong, was always wrong, and will be always wrong.:smiley:

Who’s this ‘I’ that set the standard?

Has ‘I’ always been there?
Will ‘I’ always be there?

If the answer is ‘no’, then the conclusion is false.

Any foundation for this assumption?

-]He/-] ‘I’ said so. :rolleyes:

I hate to mess up the wackiness that this thread will contain, but that’s the exact question many theists have when atheists claim they have objective moralities without God.

The real question therefore is: Can atheists really do much better than that?

I do not know, in my personal attempts i got stuck at concluding from:
“enough” “humans” should “survive”
("" because there are still potential definition problems with these terms)
that:
every “human” should “survive” for as or “nearly” as long as his body allows

From that one could get to a prohibition of infanticide. But history shows that the individual human fate has often no influence upon a society or man in general, so i cannot bridge the gap.

Presumably, even if the whole of humanity ceased to believe in any gods, if enough individuals decide that their conscience cannot support infanticide, they won’t commit it, and the human race will persist.

Most religious moral arguments seem based on the idea that if there isn’t some almighty power to punish the people who transgress, then there is insufficient weight to any argument that things just might go better for most people if we behave in certain ways in preference to others. The desire for retribution is a very strong factor for most humans. Many of us need to feel that there is someone who can deliver punishment when we, for whatever reason, fail to do so. Even if infanticide is committed for reasons of parental psychological instability, severe disability of the infant (in which case - euthanasia or infanticide?), or sheer parental inability to support the child with sufficient quality of life - as opposed to the purely selfish reasons certain people imagine - some still take comfort in thinking this ‘wickedness’ will receive its comeuppance.

Let us also not forget that there are plenty of people in the so-called Pro-Life movement who don’t bat an eyelid at the obscenely high infant mortality rates in poor communities and developing nations that have absolutely nothing to do with active infanticide - as far as they are concerned, it is not, after all, a matter of entrenched injustice, but a matter of individual conscience as to whether wealthy individuals and nations offer support - redistribution of wealth means communism and irreligiousness; and it’s only a matter of individual wickedness if particular parents practise contraception, abortion or, in extreme cases, infanticide rather than let their child endure a life of unbearable suffering.

As usual, things are a bit more complicated than the black-and-white moralists imagine…

But some infanticide is not detrimetal to survival of human race. Many cultures allowed infanticide and did not see anything wrong it in and still “flourished”. Examples: Baylonians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese (except for last 35 years), Aztecs.

Only excessive infanticide is a problem (or excessive abortion if one wants to see a difference there) . Therefore norms protecting the individual are not necessary. If 5% are killed that is not a problem at all. No need to worry about each individual.

But when you look in any constitution of civilized countries, things are black and white:
Every individual human has at latest after birth an individual right to live.
And in every criminal code of such countries, things are black and white:
Infanticide is always a crime and in most countries carries a jail sentence. (Though in many countries the sentence is reduced due to situation of mother, but its still a crime.)

If one sees the foundation of those societies in religion, its obvious why they have such laws unlike for example the romans, who had different laws/customs regarding infanticide.

But as modern countries should not have their moral basis in religions, i am curious how this ban of infanticide can be justified. For adults and elder children these laws are not necessary. They are also not necessary for the society as a whole, especially as most women have an abortion instead of infanticide.

Therefore the question of mine, which is in the thread title.

I think that is what I intimated, in saying that there are some situations in which infanticide cannot be seen as an absolute wrong - there are other factors which feed into the action, and although it is not an ideal (if it were, we would advocate it as a preference over and above having and raising children), it is not as undoubtedly heinous as “always” wrong. There are worse circumstances that it might prevent.

But as modern countries should not have their moral basis in religions, i am curious how this ban of infanticide can be justified. For adults and elder children these laws are not necessary. They are also not necessary for the society as a whole, especially as most women have an abortion instead of infanticide.

Therefore the question of mine, which is in the thread title.

I think anyone who cared to do the research would find that a majority of humans simply are inclined to protect and nurture infants. Those who are not so inclined probably shouldn’t be compelled by social or religious pressure to reproduce. If such an inclination demonstrably exists, why claim - as some religious folks do - that is has no ‘objective’ reason to exist or to be followed?

The fact of the matter is that life is necessary for any further achievement that might matter to human beings. Yet it is plain that other circumstances exist that can and do actually prevent any achievement of any proposed human potential. Until these circumstances are abolished, it seems a bit naive to limit the prohibition to infanticide.

A further question might be - is infanticide any more disadvantageous and destructive to harmonious human communities than murder at any stage of a person’s life?

Or in other words, the absolute ban of infanticide, part of all constitutions of western countries and of the UN human rights charta, cannot be justified and is therefore up for change, if one day circumstances change?

I am curious because i somehow got the impression that the charta and constitutions are based on secular humanism. If secular humanism cannot justify ban of infanticide, then something is wrong about that statement.

If i was a women who was aware that objective moral values don’t exist, then my choosing to give birth to new life is purely dependent on whether or not i see any emotional or utility-value in having the child; and my identifying a pregnancy as something which should be preserved to full term will be dependent on how “i” feel. If i feel that a baby will be a burden to my agenda, then i will not bestow any imaginary value on a pregnancy and will terminate “it” with out remorse. Since if my atheism reflects true reality, it is not true that i ought to value a pregnancy and bring it to full term or perceive the object growing inside of me as having any value apart from what i choose to imagine it as having. And the same is true also of a child that is born, and even a grown adult. There value is purely dependent upon my agenda.

Will having this new life make my life feel better in some way

That is the only meaningful question that a pregnant atheist can ask her self.

All the Christian can do is watch in horror.

I do not need to be christian to watch that in horror.

However you do need to believe in objective moral values (a transcendent moral law), otherwise the fact that you are watching in horror is based purely on the imaginary value you place on a pregnancy and not the true value that a thing has. No true horror is taking place; there is only a delusion that there is.

As the ruler of a great and wonderful tribe, I assert that every child born among us is intrinsically valuable. It’s intrinsic value comes from the very fact that it is born to our tribe. All those born to our tribe are of great value because they make our tribe bigger and stronger and they reflect the glory of who we are. Therefore, even if a woman decides she doesn’t particularly wish to carry around and nurture a child, once she is pregnant, I demand she does indeed carry it, give birth to it and nurture it. If she does otherwise, her actions are anathema to the tribe and an insult to all members of the tribe, who carry the same genetic material. Such a woman shall be punished dreadfully. She should have been aware of the consequences of making sweet offerings to the spirit father who makes babies and desisted if she does not want to look after babies and be a part of our tribe. Our tribe needs babies so it will become bigger and better than other tribes and safe from invasion. Its DNA is a celebration of our superiority and very existence. I have spoken.

Might makes right, but it doesn’t make moral truth.

yawn I’ll give this a shot, just for the heck of it. I just wanna see whatcha guys think.

  1. Sex is a natural, driving instinct. That is, sexual reproduction is something that all but the most primitive forms of life take part in, and do so by their chemical impulses. When a dog is in heat, it desires sex, and has it if it can find a mate.

  2. Sex - this instinct, or impulse, or whatever you call it - has is a reasonable impulse, for by it the species is continued. While this is not important on an individual scale, this is. You who are currently young and virile, will get older. And if you have offspring, you will have someone young and virile to support you in your elder years.

  3. There is also a natural impulse for survival. We do not do things that make survival less likely.

  4. Considering 2 and 3, it is logical to conclude that infanticide goes against our basest instincts, and therefore is, from a natural standpoint, counter-productive to survival and thus wrong.


Afterthoughts:

therefore, by this postulation, it makes more sense to have more and well-raised children who can aid you when you are aged and less able to care for yourself. Abortion, contraception, fornication, and sodomy are all counterproductive to natural human survival, and indeed are the bane of some our most basic survival instincts.

And as it is impulse based, getting pregnant is not always well planned. Furthermore even if it is well planned, circumstances can change in 9 months. So at the time of birth it could be realized that this pregnancy was an error.

For the offspring to support one, it must be the right number, with the right timing, under the right social cicumstances and of decent quality. If for example its female and male would be preferable for supporting, discarding the female and get pregnant again soon is more efficient, than keeping the female alive, as it might prolong the time to the next pregnancy and it will cost resources not avaible for the hopefully next male child.
Or the social circumstances are such, that the long term prospects are reduced, e.g. pregnant although promised to some “good” husband and the quality of avaible husbands is reduced if someone knows about the child (therefore auctioning the child is not an option).

So on the individual level a lot of survival optimizing reasons for infanticide exist.

For the whole society infanticide is only a problem, if it happens to often. The romans build an empire, while infanticide was legal.

No, survival instincts only work, in case of direct danger. In case of indirect or long term danger (e.g. smoking) survival instincts have reduced importance.

If survival requires certain qualities, which can be identified at birth, infanticide is beneficial for survival, as the resources wasted on unfit off spring is reduced, this was the approach of Sparta.

The resource investment between birth and productive age is big compared to the prior investment. So opting out of the deal suggested by the child (feed me and you can educate me into being your supporter later) can be rational.

Lets discuss infanticide only. While more and well raised children are good, for this prohibition of infanticide is not necessary, the romans objectively had enough sons to conquer the mediterran world, as the greeks had enough sonds 200 years prior to conquer persia.

Furthermore the need for “quality” children would indicate infanticide of handicapped children is preferable.

All societies and religions accept the killing of children in some circumstances. The Catholic church allows soldiers in a ‘just war’ to shell a village with the intent of killing the enemy even of they know children will certainly be killed as an unintended side-effect proportional with the ‘good’ of killing the enemy. As long as the enemy thinks they are fighting a just war, it’s ok for them too. In this case, the Church says the killing of children is acceptable. In this same case, some atheists would find it unacceptable, and would reject ‘just war’ theory. As a non-believer I have no difficulty concluding that some things are in general good for society, and others bad. But I am able to avoid the extremes of religious thought that lead to, for example, the Catholic belief that it is ok to remove a fallopian tube, killing the ectopic fetus inside it, but it is not ok to remove the fetus, leaving the tube, repaired, behind. Hundreds of millions of people in the past few decades have ceased to believe in the Christian God. Not many of us have become mass murderers.

Do you reject the just war theory? If so why?

As a non-believer I have no difficulty concluding that some things are in general good for society, and others bad.

On what basis?

But I am able to avoid the extremes of religious thought that lead to, for example, the Catholic belief that it is ok to remove a fallopian tube, killing the ectopic fetus inside it, but it is not ok to remove the fetus, leaving the tube, repaired, behind.

When do you think abortion is justified?

Hundreds of millions of people in the past few decades have ceased to believe in the Christian God.

Source of information?

Not many of us have become mass murderers.

Most people don’t have the opportunity! There have however be mass murders of unborn children…

I think the Just War theory includes some interesting and useful concepts but as a package it is plainly ineffectual and impossible to implement. Centuries of believers i the theory blessing opposing troops should be a good enough indication of its futility. Have the Bishops of any country ever plainly stated that a particular war their nation was involved in to be unjust?

I assess good and bad for society on the basis of what maximises happiness and freedom (including democracy)

well, certainly in the case of ectopic pregnancies threatening the life of the mother.

39.7% of statistics are made up and this has been one of them. It is just a guess based on the population of the formerly Christian world, and the decline in Church affiliation and attendance.

I think you will make more progress if you use words like ‘abortion’ for abortion. as soon as someone points out that Catholics think IUDs and the morning-after pill are the same as abortion, people who talk of ‘mass murder’ loose their audience. I am pretty confident I would refrain from mass murder if given the opportunity, but I will continue to support strong gun control in case I am wrong!

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