Friday, October 2, 2009

The Immorality of Child Adoption

Originally written July 2007

In 1785, the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, released his book called "The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals." In it, he introduced a term called the "Categorical Imperative." According to Kant, this means that one should "act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."

So basically, if you are going to do anything, first imagine that that action were a universal law. And if that action was still ok, then go ahead and do it.

So lets say you are going to take a candy from the store. Not that you want to steal it, you just want to see if its any good. What you need to do is ask yourself "if everybody took a candy, would it still be ok?" The answer is obviously no, since all the candy would be eaten up, the store would have no candy to actually sell, it would go out of business, and then no one would get any candy. No candy, oh no! So according to Kant, we can confirm this action as immoral.

Likewise, say someone drops their wallet and you see it, and go to pick it up, and return it to its owner. What would the consequences be if everyone did this? Well… it would be a good thing. So according to Kant, we can safely say that this is a moral action to take.

So this Categorical Imperative idea seems pretty good. And I think that everyone would agree that if you follow this basic concept, you will do alright.

So now lets get to the beef. Many people claim that they would rather adopt children than have their own. Reason being, there are already a lot of kids out there, so why bring another one into the world if you can help one that's already here? Sounds pretty good if you ask me. But lets break it down…

What if this became a moral law, and everyone decided not to have children, and instead adopt? Well… pretty soon, there would be no children to adopt, because no one would be having babies! There might be the occasional accidental pregnancy, but the numbers of babies would decrease so much that it would threaten the survival of our species. And if something threatens the survival of our species (more specifically, our genes), it is immoral.

Therefore, adoption is immoral.



  1. It's a nice theory although 1/2 of all pregnancies in the US are unplanned making it tricky to really cause a massive decrease in the population. This would also vary significantly in areas where contraception is limited vs. areas where contraception is an over the counter option. Just a thought!

  2. Would it still be immoral if a couple could NOT have children?

  3. Why would human extinction be immoral? No circular arguments, please.

  4. Elnoa,
    Because according to the categorical imperative, it would not be a desirable or beneficial thing to happen to us.

  5. Therefore, adoption is immoral if one prescribes to Kant's categorical imperative.
    I'm afraid that this can rather be used as an example of where categorical imperative fails...

    1. I absolutely agree. That was the entire point of the post.

    2. WOW the depth of your ignorance is astounding , your so called Moral argument against adoption misses the mark from a moral and procreation stand point. 1. if you follow any of the world's main religions , you need to read a little farther than 2 pages . All speak of adoption as the duty of its followers. 2.Genetically the diversity of the gene pool is only enhandanced by a random infusion of fresh dna to it's main pool . All but the most bigoted geneticists have shown that in the future the only DNA pools that will survive are the more diversified pools IE: what some people would call mixed race children . In light of the advent of super bacteria ( drug resistant ) & super viruses( resistant mutant of human immunodeficiency virus )will wipe out most closed gene pools leaving only the broad spectrum pools on the plant. When adopting a child you bring a source of DNA out of it's common base and 9 times out of 10 will incorporate into the new DNA pool . Please broaden your mind to see what the big picture is , or at least a factual assessment of the wider picture of life on the planet. Humans are only one small life form on this planet and has been preceded by at least 4 other DNA pools which are all but extinct with the exception of Microbes ( which have been here for approx. 3.5 billion years ). Free your mind .

    3. Chris, Chris, Chris. Don't let your jimmies get too rustled--this was satire. The point was to show how Kant's Categorical Imperative isn't THAT great of a moral guideline. If that wasn't clear by the sheer ridiculousness of the argument, I had hoped that the winky face I put at the end would make that obvious. However, it seems that you not only missed that, but missed my past comments where I clearly explained that this post was satirical.

      Regardless of all that, your comment misses the mark by quite a bit.

      1. I don't follow any religion, and I have never heard of any religious teaching that it is some duty to adopt children. But even if they do, that does nothing to say it's the right thing to do.

      2. This point makes absolutely no sense. Genetic diversity is indeed good... but that doesn't have anything to do with adoption. You get genetic diversity by reproducing with people who you aren't closely related to.

      All in all, it seems you have failed to make the case that adoption is moral (you missed the OBVIOUS answer of "adoption gives a child who might not have a shot at a good life, a better chance"), or even come close to refuting my satirical argument.

      If you are an example of a "free mind", then count me out.

  6. This is nothing more than a misguided attempt to morally justify why brownish people being raised by pinkish people makes you uncomfortable, nothing more.

    As an adopted person, and as someone with adopted family members, it offends me that you would even consider this as a logical (or even moral) viewpoint. No one understands the value of family in the same way that an adopted person does, as no one but an adopted person has lived without one.

    1. Fax, you got me. You nailed it right on the head. I applaud your astute observation and careful reading of this blog post. Clearly, this is NOT satire, and is NOT designed to show why Kant's Categorical Imperative fails. I am especially impressed that you were able to see through my winky face at the very end, knowing that that was just to throw people off from my actual hatred of "pinkish" people raising "brownish" people.

      Well done, sir.

    2. As the mother of adopted children, I am confused by Fax's comment "as no one but an adopted person has lived without one" Does that statement refer to an adopted person being abandoned by his or her's "real" family and having no family, thus making the adopted family null and void?
      Please clarify.

    3. Even if this was satirical, there are things you do not joke about: among them are children who do not have families.

      As for "no one but an adopted person has lived without one", it is more of a statement indicating that most non-adoptive people are unaware how much their family impacts their lives: adopted children, on the other hand, frequently consider such things as 'what if I had had different adoptive parents' as a very real possibility of something that could have changed their entire lives, even if it is a decision made by people who they've never met and will likely never meet.

    4. I am not joking, it's satire-- which is designed to show the absurdity of some position (in this case, Kant's CI). In no way am I making fun of children who don't have families. If anything, I am making fun of Kant.

  7. And once again, there are certain things you just don't touch. If you had used, say, genocide as your example case, I have no doubts that some people (Holocaust survivors, perchance?) would equally find it offensive.

    1. Let’s use the holocaust. Let’s say I make an argument along the lines of: “might makes right” is a moral view. Hitler was a person with power, therefore, according to might makes right, what he did to the Jews was ok.

      Is this a jab at the Jews? Of course not. It is a jab at the idea of “might makes right”, to show just how messed up such an idea is. If someone were to say “this is offensive to Jews”, they just doesn’t understand the point being made. And I am afraid I would have to say that the same goes for you in terms of my actual post.

      Though, in terms of people being offended by something, too bad.

  8. So basically, if you are going to do anything, first imagine that that action were a universal law. And if that action was still ok, then go ahead and do it.
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  9. Likewise, say someone drops their wallet and you see it, and go to pick it up, and return it to its owner.
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  10. There might be the occasional accidental pregnancy, but the numbers of babies would decrease so much that it would threaten the survival of our species.
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