Re: virus: Abortion, etc.

C. David Noziglia (
Wed, 13 Mar 1996 17:07:22 -0800

>Ike Hall (by way of David McFadzean <>) wrote:
> Having read all of Dawkins books and a couple of Dennett's, I feel like
>taking a stab at the Viral stance on abortion (and perhaps a couple of
>other issues).
> Following Dawkins' selfish gene theory, the purpose of biological organisms
>is to replicate their genes. If one does not wish to do this, one must
>figure out a way to interrupt the cycle. Any method of interrupting the
>reproductive cycle is essentially equivalent to any other, as the results
>are the same.
> Celibacy, contraception, sterilization, and abortion are therefore one and
>the same - interruptions of the natural reproductive process. Celibacy is
>perhaps the most extreme as its practice denies the practitioner's basic
>biological programming. Abortion is perhaps the most short-sighted, as it is
>a painful and expensive procedure that, in all honesty, can be avoided by
>thinking ahead. Certainly it makes no difference which method one chooses,
>but one can certainly see that contraception or sterilization have slight
>Reason tells us that humans no longer have the luxury of total reproductive
>freedom if the planet is to support a great diversity of life.
>I'm not a hypocrite, at least. I've had a vasectomy and my wife and I have
>no children.

This is in fact a topic on which many have have been thinking. You raise a
number of interesting issues.

1) Neither Dawkins, nor E.O.Wilson, nor most of the other so-called "genetic
determinists" have claimed that genetic predisposition is the end of the
matter. Yes, human beings have to pay attention to genetically determined
modes of behavior, but no, that's not all we are. We are, indeed, different
from other animals. We think.

For that reason, actions to drastically reduce the total population of the
Earth, violating the "selfishness" of our own particular gene packets, are
both rational and, I hope, possible. We can see beyond both the narrow
behavioral patterns of gene propogation, and even the mathematics of kinship
altruism, and act on behalf of the planet as a whole.

2) Of course, this isn't easy. Even if our goals are global, our actions
and payoffs are still local. It is on this level that population reduction
strategies must focus.

My own proposal -- impossible to impliment of course -- is that everyone be
"reversably steralized" some time before puberty. Then, if two people wish
to have a child, they can get the process reversed. The conceptual advantage
of this is that childbearing becomes a positive choice, instead of the lack
of the negative choices Ike mentions. The drawbacks are all practical: it
must be simple, cheap, reliable, and universal. The other choice facing us
all is wholesale famine, plague, and bloodshed, combined with worldwide
ecological disaster. What fun.

C. David Noziglia
Wellington, New Zealand

"Blessed are those who have no expectations, for they will never be disappointed." Kautiliya Shakhamuni Sidhartha Gautama Buddha

"Things are the way they are because they got that way."