site banner

Culture War Roundup for the week of April 10, 2023

This weekly roundup thread is intended for all culture war posts. 'Culture war' is vaguely defined, but it basically means controversial issues that fall along set tribal lines. Arguments over culture war issues generate a lot of heat and little light, and few deeply entrenched people ever change their minds. This thread is for voicing opinions and analyzing the state of the discussion while trying to optimize for light over heat.

Optimistically, we think that engaging with people you disagree with is worth your time, and so is being nice! Pessimistically, there are many dynamics that can lead discussions on Culture War topics to become unproductive. There's a human tendency to divide along tribal lines, praising your ingroup and vilifying your outgroup - and if you think you find it easy to criticize your ingroup, then it may be that your outgroup is not who you think it is. Extremists with opposing positions can feed off each other, highlighting each other's worst points to justify their own angry rhetoric, which becomes in turn a new example of bad behavior for the other side to highlight.

We would like to avoid these negative dynamics. Accordingly, we ask that you do not use this thread for waging the Culture War. Examples of waging the Culture War:

  • Shaming.

  • Attempting to 'build consensus' or enforce ideological conformity.

  • Making sweeping generalizations to vilify a group you dislike.

  • Recruiting for a cause.

  • Posting links that could be summarized as 'Boo outgroup!' Basically, if your content is 'Can you believe what Those People did this week?' then you should either refrain from posting, or do some very patient work to contextualize and/or steel-man the relevant viewpoint.

In general, you should argue to understand, not to win. This thread is not territory to be claimed by one group or another; indeed, the aim is to have many different viewpoints represented here. Thus, we also ask that you follow some guidelines:

  • Speak plainly. Avoid sarcasm and mockery. When disagreeing with someone, state your objections explicitly.

  • Be as precise and charitable as you can. Don't paraphrase unflatteringly.

  • Don't imply that someone said something they did not say, even if you think it follows from what they said.

  • Write like everyone is reading and you want them to be included in the discussion.

On an ad hoc basis, the mods will try to compile a list of the best posts/comments from the previous week, posted in Quality Contribution threads and archived at /r/TheThread. You may nominate a comment for this list by clicking on 'report' at the bottom of the post and typing 'Actually a quality contribution' as the report reason.

14
Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

How about a pallet cleanser?

In the other thread a few people brought up surrogacy, and maybe I've spent too much time with TERFs, but am I the only one that overwhelmed with the feeling of Lovecraftian horror whenever it's brought up? The feeling is even more uncanny, because it's like I slept through some great societal debate where everybody decided it's actually a lovely thing that should be celebrated. Although maybe it's not all that bad, there's a certain "how it started, how it's going" quality to the NYT headlines. In any case the casual way it's supporters talk about surrogacy freaks me out even more than militant pro-choicers.

Then there's the whole slippery slope thing:

  • Love is love, we have a right to get married just the same as you! - Yes I agree!

  • We also have a right to adopt! - Sure! I mean I have my issues with adoption in practice, but in principle if there are kids without parents, and willing gay couples to adopt them I don't see an issue.

  • We also have a right to biological children! What? Do you expect us to be ok with not having children?

Wait what? Yes I do! I'm all for tolerance, and living and letting live, but you're not going to make me see this as a lovely family moment, and anyway I don't remember signing on to turning a fundamental human experience into an industry when I supported the gay rights movement. Accept the limits of your biology, and move on.

Which brings me to Dase's idea "postrat «don't mean-spiritedly dunk on a rationalist» challenge (impossible)". Indeed, I can't help myself, and even though I used to be rat/rat-adjacent, I find myself having growing disdain for the entire philosophy. There's a meme that's slowly gathering momentum, that all the trans stuff, and 72 genders is just a foot in the door for transhumanism, and after I heard the idea for the first time, I can't seem to unsee it. This twisted ideology will drive us to throw away our humanity, turn us into a cross-over between Umgah Blobbies and the Borg, or trick us into committing suicide, because there's a subroutine running on some GPU somewhere, that's somewhat similar to the processes in our brains. Given the utter dominance of the trans ideology, the vindication of the slippery slope argument, and the extrapolated trajectory of these ideas, I believe we have no other choice - Transhumanism must be destroyed!

I'm curious about how this relates to biblical institutions with similar qualities. There appear to be at least two things of that sort: levirate marriage, and maidservants, who would have children in the place of the other wife.

So something like this has been around for a while. That does not, of course, mean that it is great.

Levirate marriage doesn't seem related to me. The brother isn't buying anything, he's being forced to take care of the dead husband's family. Extreme, but at first glance rates the same as arranged marriages.

The maidservents thing is more on point. Might be less cruel to the child if the mother gets to raise the child as the mother, but in that case it's cruel to the wife. One of the cases where I'd also say take the L, and accept the limits of your biology.

The fact that the child counts as the offspring of the dead brother, though, seemed analogous—people having sex with the intention of having children but not intending the children to be considered theirs.

Transhumanism must be destroyed

Oh Them's fighting words. And-

There's a meme that's slowly gathering momentum, that all the trans stuff, and 72 genders is just a foot in the door for transhumanism

Oh hey, I've even posted that meme on The Motte before. I'm in full agreement. Let's pry that door open.

look. I agree that that picture is creepy. Why is the pregnant woman in the background? Isn't this a maternity shoot? The person growing the baby is out of focus... It feels belittling even if it's not meant to be. Actually making the baby is a crucial Job here.

That said,

This whole fear that we'll lose our humanity... What parts do you want to keep?

Most of the transhumanists I am aware of agree that Love, Ambition, Pleasure, and even Pain are things they'd enjoy keeping around. At least in some of their forks.

We don't want less. We want more and more variety with it.

Our ideological vision mostly amounts to immortality, complete morphic freedom (I wonder how many of us grew reading Animorphs?), dyson spheres, forking ourselves... I know more than a few who dream of Living as spaceships as we soar across the stars, soaking in the starlight and interstellar medium. Maybe even populating a neutron star or two if Dragon's Egg pans out to physically possible. We get confused when someone tries to belittle someone with the Attack Helicopter meme. (I mean. Have you tried being an attack helicopter? Don't knock it till you've tried it man. And are you saying you wouldn't want to be friends with a human mind in the body of a badass attack helicopter? I sure would! Too many things that talk share the same bipedal phenotype. It's like eating the same meal every day.)

But an authoritarian singleton hive mind is typically considered a failure state by basically everyone I know. The only tragedy I fear more is humanity remaining basically unchanged for the next 40 millennia.

Although...

'Lovecraftian'. Lovecraft's work has its basis in the fear of the other. We bay area rat transhumanists tend to be high openness individuals. We are less likely to flinch away from the other.

Thus, it's not rare to find transhumanist Rats who are followers of Cthugha

And I know of more than one of us that dreams of life as a squid.

And I know of more than one of us that dreams of life as a squid.

Eclipse Phase gets weird, man.

Funny you should mention- One of those same squids showed off her copy of the eclipse phase artbook to me the last time we were together.

I know more than a few who dream of Living as spaceships as we soar across the stars, soaking in the starlight and interstellar medium.

I refuse to believe that Thomas the Tank Engine in space is the telos of humanity.

I'd be perfectly fine just living for a few thousand years.

But space trains are cool, as per Galaxy Express 999.

(Granted, I guess you could argue that that movie was anti-transhumanism.)

The occultists speak of change and death and personal alchemy of the soul. Their project is to transcend their limits.

The technologists see the limits of what we are and can be, and their first thought is to wonder how to transcend them.

Every student seeks to learn, to transcend the skills and abilities they presently have.

Every athlete aims to break the human limit.

When someone lacks ambition, we call them depressed.

When someone lacks their tools, we call them unprepared.

When someone lacks their vaccinations, we call them unvaccinated.

If we want to go full Natural Law. Sure. I won't argue Tomas the tank engine in space is the sole telos of humanity. And I certainly wont tell you that you have to like the aesthetic. If we ever reach my future. I promise to do my best to make sure your neo-amish aspirations are respected.

But my point is. If humanity has a telos, it is to become more that what they are.

I would argue that, throughout history and the lives of every human, the human telos has been to transcend, and to integrate the products of that ascension into the self, to prepare for the next ascension.

we call them unvaccinated.

No, that's BigPharma-centered language.

In people-centered language they call themselves People of pure-blood or pure-bloods.

Embrace your inner Clan warrior and send the trueborn to a sibko (sibling company where the strong become warriors and the weak wash out to civilian life).

There are many examples of technology coming before its time. The Puckle Gun was an attempt to make machine-guns during the 1720s, the era of flintlocks. People mostly sneered at it: "they're only wounded who hold shares therein" went one satirical pamphlet. There were also the Kalthoff Repeaters in the 1630s, they had a good rate of fire but were difficult to maintain since they hadn't figured out interchangeable parts yet. If there were any problems with the powder fouling, if a single part breaks, you had to take the whole thing back to a master gunsmith to be fixed. For over 200 years attempts to make rapid-firing firearms all failed!

But then people figured out interchangeable parts, rifling and smokeless powder. There were improvements in machining and metallurgy. Unlike all its predecessors, the Gatling Gun was pretty decent. Another few decades of refinement and we got the Maxim Gun. Machine guns became practical and extremely lethal. They dominate infantry combat to this day, every infantryman has some kind of automatic weapon. If you go out on the battlefield with a flintlock musket, you'll be sneered at as it's totally pathetic, totally impractical (imagine spending at least 30 seconds reloading and you can't even go prone, you have to stand up!)

Transhumanism is the same. Right now it's dominated by weirdoes and a very impractical, forceful approach. Its full potential has not been seen. We're talking about people doing pretty primitive surgical procedures. We're talking about people doing weird roundabout manipulations of existing biology. We're not talking about emulating the brain progressively, neuron-by-neuron, ensuring continuity of consciousness. We're not talking about the speed, strength and power machinery can give you. At this stage it all seems like science-fiction, airy abstract words thrown around by people who have no proof to back it up, no concrete knowledge of all the myriad problems...

At some point, we'll hit the Gatling Gun stage where the future becomes visible and concrete. Maybe that'll be if or when Neuralink fulfills its promise. Neuralink's bogged down with the FDA over safety concerns before they can start human testing. We could imagine a more ruthless country like China whisking off a 1,000 political dissidents to rapidly iterate testing. They might choose not to do that but it's only getting easier. If not Neuralink then its successors.

But certainly, eventually we'll be forced to throw away our humanity as we perceive it now. Can you imagine walking onto a battlefield with a flintlock musket today? What about walking onto a battlefield in the future at all? Can you fly at Mach 20, withstand 30 G acceleration, react in machine-time, track thousands of objects simultaneously, brave the cold of deep space for months on end? Can you clone yourself 50 times in a month, such that you're all aligned with eachother? Can you design an automated factory, an automated mine, an automated power plant, manage an entire robotic supply chain such that it's durable to full-scale nuclear war?

Maybe there are limits to replication or whatever. Maybe we all get wiped out by machines or a few monopolistic posthumans.

But if you're just a base-human in the future, your life will be decided by others forever. You won't have the brainpower to understand what's happening, the speed to react in time, you won't have the firepower to resist, you'll be completely surpassed in every aspect. And this trend cannot be stopped. Everyone wants to be smarter, richer and more capable. Everyone wants more ______ whatever that might be. Those with better technology will overcome those with lesser technology. Just look at what happened to the pastoral nomads! They might have had great fun, their lifestyle might be more 'human' (out in nature, authentic skills, having fun around the campfire, personally inflicting violence) than industrial city-slickers but industrial armies wiped the floor with them. They have no control over their own destiny but what modern, urban, sedentary civilization gives them. Genghis could never win, no matter what he did. Even if he conquered the whole world, his successors would get moulded and slowly turned by degrees into urbanites and lose their nomadic skills (as they did in China).

rifling

Even rifling was invented back in like the 1500's! It just took a lot of other technological developments (such as interchangeable parts, industrial machining, and probably also metallic cartridges) to finally get to breechloaders.

Good point. I recall elite units were using rifles in the Napoleonic wars but they weren't quite practical yet, they were very slow to reload since they were still muzzle-loaders.

Until the urbanites turn gay and they're too busy bio-engineering innovative STDs to breed and keep civilization going.

Who won in Afghanistan?

Keep in mind, the main users of surrogacy aren't gay couples, but infertile straight couples.

As for transhumanism - surely video games, phones, and AI are doing a thousand times more than 'surrogacy for gay couples' ever would? When half of your day-to-day activity is on a computer, does surrogacy makes you any more transhuman?

Keep in mind, the main users of surrogacy aren't gay couples, but infertile straight couples.

Why is that relevant?

surely video games, phones, and AI are doing a thousand times more than 'surrogacy for gay couples' ever would? When half of your day-to-day activity is on a computer, does surrogacy makes you any more transhuman?

I didn't criticize surrogacy for gay couples, I criticized surrogacy. As to other forms of technology, I'm also against their excesses, but surrogacy takes the cake for now. Childbirth is a fundamental human experience, screwing around with it, turning it into a for profit industry impacts our nature way more than spending too much time on Twitter.

Surrogacy for gay couples is transhumanism in the sense of "Redefining the limits of what humans can be and do and how they can interact."

The word is sometimes used like this, but in this broad sense it applies to a vast variety of cultural changes.

Gender transition is vastly more Transhuman than surrogacy.

I want you to know that I read the whole first of your post thinking it was Lovecraftian horror that had been proclaimed lovely and worthy of celebration. That you were getting existential dread every time the NYT treated Lovecraft as an aesthetic touchstone rather than a cause for gibbering horror. It wasn’t until I got to the bullet points that I realized what I was missing.

Anyway.

Why isn’t surrogacy compatible with tolerance, with live-and-let-live? A woman should be able to consent to bearing children. So long as she’s not forced into it, not losing her rights to life and liberty, she can have children with whomever she pleases. The men don’t have a right to have children. But I don’t see what woman’s right is violated by an agreement to have them.

Consider the converse. Is it acceptable for a lesbian couple to voluntarily bear an outside man’s children? (I think so, though I am probably biased; my parents are godparents to two such kids.) The same goes for a straight couple hiring a surrogate due to infertility. If she’s willing, and they’re unable, it is a win-win.

The other nice part is that you aren’t forced to see that photo as a nice family moment. It’s kind of unsettling to me, too. Something about the implication that the woman is subservient triggers my chauvinist instincts, perhaps? But I don’t have any reason to believe that it’s actually harmful, except for a bit of secondhand embarrassment for the participants of this awkward photo.

One final note. Transhumanism seems obviously correct to me in the same way as using tools or building personal relationships. I believe we should strive to surpass our mortal limits, and that the fleshy layout of the human body is māyā rather than an essential component of Humanity. Luminous beings are we, not this…crude matter. You may disagree, but I believe that will hold your children back from the stars.

I'd say bodily autonomy is a secondary argument to fetal personhood. But, more importantly, it doesn't keep the mother from choosing pregnancy. She is allowed to accept that imposition and risk. Bodily autonomy is about ensuring she is allowed and not required to do so.

I don't feel like slavery is a very good comparison. It is indefinite, rather than temporary, and it represents a much broader concept of "ownership." Plus it's hard to separate from the much more prevalent nonconsensual slavery. Indentured servitude is a better fit, and my objections against it are weaker. Both slavery and indentured servitude involved further acquisition of rights over the worker, such as allowing transfer or extension of contract, than surrogacy.

It is worse than disgust and lovecraftian horror. It's cringe. I am talking about that specific picture.

I am fine with surrogacy as long the surrogate mother and the mother providing the egg cell are different persons.

But the way the new kids on the block caricature the spaces they have been allowed in is cringy. Also true for the new-ish breed of MtF (the ones that put videos on tiktok for periods and breast pains)

On the other hand probably this new cringe is pervading everywhere - everything now is not about the end result, it's about the performance.

Cringe is in the eye of the beholder. I find this comment cringe.

My favorite take on cringe is JrEg's schitzopost on it.

"'Cringe!' they choke out at the TikTok kids. Do they care that they are cringe? No! they share the cringe they like the cringe they comment on the cringe and then only then do they replicate the cringe themselves. And if no one's cringing then is it cringe?"

Cringe, JrEg goes on to explain, amounts to an emotional box erected by societal norms. Placing yourself subservient to the cringe of others, he argues, leaves you unable to remain consistently based in your own ideals.

Cringe, JrEg goes on to explain, amounts to an emotional box erected by societal norms.

I think I made a similar point a while ago.

I’m trying to parse why I have such a strong reaction towards gay men using surrogates.

I mean, obviously there’s the ‘if you want kids, there is an obvious way to do that’ factor where going for a lifestyle that excludes having children then gets corrected back. But I don’t react in the same visceral way to gay adoption, or lesbians getting pregnant through whatever method(Craigslist rando, IVF, sperm donor).

I think it’s the buying people. Child trafficking in adoption is a serious problem that all sorts of people put effort into avoiding, albeit not particularly successfully. On the other hand, the homosexual men using surrogates are blatantly buying a child.

The linked photograph doesn't do anything to dispel that notion either — the woman is shot to be functionally anonymous, an interchangeable rent-a-womb in the background. You get the feeling that as soon as she gives birth, she'd be shoved out of the picture entirely, possibly before she's fully recovered. But she's the most important part of the whole thing! None of this happens without her, and so instead I see a celebration of two men's narcissism, and have the uneasy feeling that the impending new life is going to be treated like a teacup dog or other fashionable accessory.

And there are enough examples of pairs of gay paedophiles adopting children to abuse them or rent them back out that it pattern-matches in unfortunate ways. Example 1, example 2. This is culture war red meat and Chinese Cardiologist stuff, so it's hard to draw well-founded conclusions in either direction. However, it is interesting that the couple in the second example were written up by Australia's national public broadcaster in a very flattering article on gay parenthood-by-surrogacy and "can you believe it's this hard for them to be parents"? (The author of the Quadrant article in example 2 was unaware of the wayback machine — archived ABC link.) When the "happy dads" who get the fawning news article turn out to be child abusers, you can see why some people jump to conclusions.

” can you believe it's this hard for them to be parents"?

Well duh. Do these people not know how babies are made? Compensating for biological impossibility is difficult and expensive.

It’s the fit-throwing about that aspect, which there really isn’t a solution to other than government subsidies, that rings alarm bells, and the ‘buying a child’ thing that justifies them.

I think it’s the buying people. Child trafficking in adoption is a serious problem that all sorts of people put effort into avoiding, albeit not particularly successfully. On the other hand, the homosexual men using surrogates are blatantly buying a child.

What? This gay couple compensated a woman for use of her womb, why are you comparing that to child trafficking, which involves a child already born and taken for typically immoral purposes (sex, forced labor, etc.)

Oh, this is a bit old already, but since you expressed genuine confusion, I figured I'd address it. Trafficking is engaging in trade of other humans, and surrogacy fits that definition perfectly.

This sounds like one of Stevenson's Persuasive Definitions i.e changing the meaning of a word without changing its elicited feelings. If this is trafficking, then trafficking is now not inherently immoral, as is typically implied (no one talks about traffickers as ethical people). For you to get to that point, you would have to demonstrate that surrogacy was immoral. Which is your view, I realize, but no one in this thread has put forward a convincing argument for that.

I was under the impression that it always was defined as the trade in human beings. My objection to it is that buying and selling other people is inherently immoral. Asking what's wrong with it is like asking "what's wrong with sexual exploitation?".

No, I don't think that the common usage of the term.

From DHS:

Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.

Wikipedia:

Human trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation.

and Merriam-Webster:

organized criminal activity in which human beings are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited (as by being forced into prostitution or involuntary labor)

So no, human trafficking by common usage is not considered to include any and all instance of people buying other people. The key point is the coercion by various means and intention to use the purchased human in forced labor or prostitution.

In my defense, in my language "human trafficking" would literally translate to "human trade".

Anyway, you're really ok with people just purchasing children? If Bill Gates started buying up kids of all ages by the thousands, it would be fine as long as he just wants to become their legal guardian, and not to force them to do anything that's not expected of kids?

I reject the use of "purchase" in both the surrogacy context and this example. It strikes me as the non-central fallacy.

In any case, if Bill Gates were to pay for surrogacy or adopt kids until he had 1000, I would be skeptical that he could provide the kind of fatherly relationship I think many people expect a father to have with his children, adopted or otherwise. More likely, he just pays for their schooling and housing and lets them grow up as if he just had one kid. Does giving 1000 kids a great shot in life negate the probably less-than-ideal fatherly relationship he may have with them? That might be an interesting conversation, but it certainly would not make sense to try and apply the negative connotation of "human trafficking" to such a situation. Not to me anyways.

More comments

Anyway, you're really ok with people just purchasing children?

A counterpoint: Westerners traffic purchase children from far poorer countries all the time, as in Western countries the demand for kids to adopt far exceeds the supply (whereas the opposite is true in the host country).

This is done openly and their activities are usually portrayed positively, even though children are generally considered possessions (their involuntary labor is your right as a parent or guardian) in the West for the first 18 years of their life.

What's the difference between this kind of remote adoption, enslaving workers from foreign countries (for labor or prostitution, which is what people usually mean by "trafficking"), and domestic surrogacy? Because I don't think there's a difference at all, and the argument against those things can be made, but is not defensible on strictly utilitarian grounds (because if it was, human history wouldn't contain the amount of slavery that it currently does).

More comments

Even as a lefty ass lefty I find the idea of paying someone to have your kids ickky. Thing is, you can't argue with it without nibbling out another little caveat in the market and in free association.

In our current framework, a woman's labor vis. babby being formed obviously is quite and imposition, and you can't just ask someone to do something for nothing.

The existential proposition of the market: if it exists, it has a value. If it has a value, it can be bought. If it cannot be bought, it has no value. If it has no value, it doesn't exist.

I'd possibly add onto the market proposition the clause "if it can be bought, the price can be driven down" to represent commoditization. Digression aside, good comment.

You yourself commented a few months back about doing a 'double-take' when reading some of my recent writing, suggesting (in different language) that I was becoming 'radicalized' on a few topics. One area you've counter-radicalized me is the conversation around falling birthrates in the west, and frankly, I'm coming to align more with the TwoXChromosome worldview that it's just a trojan horse for social control.

Don't get me wrong, I'm more concerned about the birthrate than I was. I'll even grant that surrogacy makes me uncomfortable, though more because I dislike the idea of disempowered people (surrogates in the third world are even more gross) being exploited in yet another way.

However, in the last 24 hours, we've had two comments explicitly shaming people who want to have children, specifically because the way they're trying to have children is aesthetically displeasing to you.

Wait what? Yes I do! I'm all for tolerance, and living and letting live, but you're not going to make me see this as a lovely family moment, and anyway I don't remember signing on to turning a fundamental human experience into an industry when I supported the gay rights movement. Accept the limits of your biology, and move on.

The limits of our biology are changing by the year. Will you make your children accept the limits of their biology and watch them be crippled by polio, or something? As Doglatine put it when seeing the reflexive support amongst locals for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, your position is boiling down to a reactionary rejection of anything the left and/or mainstream like, rather than a prospective, constructive worldview. So with that in mind, I have to ask: If, tomorrow, I invented a way to boost the birthrate comfortably above replacement (or to whatever arbitrary value you want), it's eugenic, it's whatever you want it to be - but it doesn't involve traditional, cis-het men repeatedly sticking their penises inside conventionally attractive cis-het stay-at-home tradwives followed by 9 months of pregnancy discomfort and childbirth - are you going to be joyful that we solved our demographic problem and charted a course towards our brave new future of eugenic John Von Neumanns? Or are you going to be upset that we didn't do it the way you wanted and those nasty degenerates are still having buttsex and dying xir hair blue?

If your answer is the latter (and I suspect for many of the Katja Grace haters it is), then yeah, I have to say TwoX are probably right about you.

Given the utter dominance of the trans ideology, the vindication of the slippery slope argument, and the extrapolated trajectory of these ideas, I believe we have no other choice - Transhumanism must be destroyed!

Still reactionary. Have you ever laid out a positive vision for what you want the future to be, since you don't like mine? I'm curious to hear what you actually want as opposed to talking about those awful people doing things that you don't like.

I'm coming to align more with the TwoXChromosome worldview that it's just a trojan horse for social control.

There are two ways to read this, which are endlessly and intentionally confused in popular politics (not that you are). One is like "conservatives are having a moral panic about birth rates because they're confused, and it'll result in more social control, which is bad". Two is "conservatives don't really care about birth rates, but they do want to impose social controls, so they're lying / posturing about birth rates to achieve that" (and maybe that posturing is structural or unconscious).

The former is arguable, but doesn't fit the "trojan horse" metaphor. The latter seems less likely, population declining is a facially reasonable worry, one can come to it via "human lives are good so decline means fewer happy lives", "CHINA will win if our population declines", "in 1000 years there won't be anyone left!!!", etc. It can still primarily, as a concern, function to impose social controls, maybe even ones that don't solve the original problem, but there isn't really any deceptiveness that 'trojan horse' would imply, imo.

The limits of our biology are changing by the year. Will you make your children accept the limits of their biology and watch them be crippled by polio, or something?

You two seem to have an underlying philosophical difference that is causing this confusion. I would hazard a guess that Arjin, whether explicitly or not, has a Natural Law understanding of humanity. Curing children of polio is good, because humans are supposed to be healthy. Giving children tentacles and an extra set of eyes that can see infrared is bad, because humans aren't supposed to have tentacles or infrared eyes. If you give them tentacles and infrared eyes, are they still human?

Those who don't understand things in terms of Natural Law don't see the problem. To them there is no way humans are "supposed to be" so we can do whatever we want and be just as human as ever. Curing polio is the same kind of thing as transforming someone's body shape radically, or whatever. To someone with a Natural Law understanding, it is not at all the same kind of thing. One is fixing something that is wrong with someone, the other is creating things that are wrong with someone, insofar as wrong is deviation from what it means to be a human. Polio is a deviation; transhumanism is a deviation.

Similarly, humans naturally form families where a child has a mother and a father, because both sexes are needed to procreate and humans are the kind of creatures that care about their kids. If you don't care about your kids, then somethings wrong with you. If a kid doesn't have a mother or a father, then something's wrong with that family. Similarly, mothers are supposed to get pregnant, carry their child, and then care for it and raise it and be part of its life. If for some reason she can't (if she died in childbirth, if she's an unfit mother, if she is unwilling to care for the child) then adoption can happen, but adoption is not ideal. It's a deviation from how it should be. So deliberately creating situations where mothers bear children that aren't their own, for the purpose of giving them to someone else, is pretty "un-Natural" in the Natural Law sense.

Your primary disagreement is philosophical, that's where the debate would be most fruitful.

Curing children of polio is good, because humans are supposed to be healthy.

Are they? Assuming Natural Law then Polio existing in its natural state and infecting humans is part of it right? Humans either surviving or not based upon their fitness is what is natural. Interfering with that is unnatural.

Your interpretation only makes sense in a version of Natural Law where humanity is special for some reason. That us not being infected by X is the natural thing and therefore us wiping out X is natural.

The other argument is that our brains are natural, our inventiveness is natural, our ability to transcend what "should" be by using our brains is natural. Outside of a supernatural descriptor (this is how humans should be because God says so) what things should be and what is natural is very hazy.

Are humans supposed to want to defy their nature?

If not-

then clearly I'm already not human. So I'm free to follow my nature.

If so-

then excuse me while I go follow my nature.

Curing children of polio is good, because humans are supposed to be healthy. Giving children tentacles and an extra set of eyes that can see infrared is bad, because humans aren't supposed to have tentacles or infrared eyes

... are infrared goggles anti-nature? If they are, computers and agriculture are too, and much moreso.

This "natural law" approach dissolves into nothingness when it touches evolution - species are always adapting to their environments, evolving, and "nature" is that. So to say something that hasn't happened yet is unnatural, and therefore circularly, bad, rules out every existing adaptation. Single cells weren't supposed to come together into multicellular organisms and throw their genetic lot in with their clones, until they did. Multicellular organisms weren't "supposed" to have light-sensitive cells, until one randomly gained slightly-functional light sensitivity. Baby animals weren't supposed to develop inside their mothers' bodies and drink fluid secretions ... until they did. And monkeys weren't supposed to talk to each other, until, slowly, it developed ...

Even from your perspective, what are the natural laws? Is it natural law that all humans should live happily and peacefully? Or that they should fight and die in war for their nation/kin/religion? Attitudes on this have changed over the past few centuries - as they've simultaneously changed for those with other moral theories.

I think you've hit the crux of the problem.

Natural Law [...] polio

But this is a weird example of "against Natural Law" to use, isn't it? The polio virus isn't artificial. It's been infecting people for thousands of years. It doesn't even seem to have a zoonotic reservoir (one of the reasons why eradicating it is possible, ironically), so Mother Earth or Nature's God or whatever specifically pointed that bomb at millions of human targets. This is all about as far from "unnatural" as it gets.

In fact, for decades polio could have been used as a cautionary tale against trying to fight Natural Law! Historically most poliovirus infections were in infants and toddlers who had better odds of recovery, but we started being much more careful (dare I say unnaturally so?) with our sewage and cleaning up our drinking water, so we lost our early exposure and our population immunity, and then we started seeing epidemics in older age groups with much higher risks of paralysis. It would have been a clear case of hubris and nemesis, except we were able to follow up the sanitation improvements with vaccinations not too long afterward.

You don't really understand what Natural Law is, if you think that just because something happens in nature it is Natural, in the Natural Law sense.

It's an understandable mistake to make. English is a terrible language for these things. Natural used to mean according to something's nature, but now it also means "not artificial" or a vague "animals and plants and stuff".

I explained this once already over on ACX, so if you don't mind I'll just copy over my comments from there:

It is "natural" for people to get sick in the sense that getting sick is a thing that happens.

It is "not natural" to be sick because a living things "natural" state is to be well: the only way we recognize a difference between sickness and health is that sickness is an abnormality that is different from the "natural" functioning of an organism.

Natural in this sense means "According to somethings nature" and not "the oppisite of artificial." So, for instance, a dog "naturally" has four legs because part of the nature of a dog is that it is a four legged animal. The fact that some dogs are born with two or three legs doesn't change the fact dogs are "naturally" four legged.

...

You will better understand "natural law" if you interpret "natural" to be "best possible state", although that goes a smidge too far in the other direction.

A dog is "naturally" a creature with four legs, eyes, nose, digestive system, waggy tail, etc. If the dog gets cancer and his digestive system is blocked and no longer functions he has moved away from his "natural" state into an "unnatural" one. One way we know this is that the purpose of the digestive system is to turn food into nutrients that the body needs, and if cancer is blocking his intestines so that the food cannot pass and the nutrients cannot be absorbed then the digestive system is being frustrated in accomplishing it's "natural function".

...

...if you think of "natural" as meaning "intended" you are getting close to understanding what "nature" means in terms of "natural law" philosophy.

Natural law comes from ancient philosophy, later refined by medieval philosophers. It fits with the "four causes" understanding of how change can occur and what things actually are that was first laid down by Aristotle. Everything that exists has "four causes" or four "things that make the thing what it is and not something else". Formal cause is the form the thing takes, material cause is what the thing is made out of of, efficient cause is what caused the thing to exist, and final cause is what the purpose of the thing is. So a digestive system has the formal cause of consisting of a stomach and intestines and all the other "blueprint" type data, a material cause of being made of flesh (a variety of animal cells, if you want to be more specific), an efficient cause of having grown from the zygote over time through a variety of biochemical processes, and a final cause of digesting food to provide nutrition for the body. A violation of any of these causes could be seen as "unnatural": a digestive system with the wrong form (if the small intestine was missing, for instance) would be "unnatural" even if that defect might occur sometimes in nature, for example.

...

...even moderns treat things as if they had a final cause: just think of the term "digestive system": it's based completely on what the "purpose" of the organ system is, namely digestion. Strictly speaking you don't need a designer for things to have a purpose, a function, etc. Even if evolution did not "intend" anything it remains a fact that the digestive system is aimed at a particular end, the end of turning food into nutrition. Jettisoning final causes makes it harder to say what things are, exactly: if final causes aren't real then you could never meaningfully say that someone's "heart failed" (failed at what?), or that there is "something wrong" with their eyesight or hearing. Wrong compared to what? Without final causes, even unintentional ones, such judgements are nonsense.

What does Natural Law have to say about population-specific human traits, or individual mutations, which are adaptive in one environment but maladaptive in another. For example: dark-skinned descendants of American slaves, after moving to the northern half of the United States en masse during the Great Migration, found that they and their children and grandchildren were suffering high rates of Vitamin D deficiency and related debilitating conditions such as rickets; their highly-melanated skin, optimized by thousands of years of evolution to block out the oppressive and omnipresent African sunlight, could not effectively absorb the far more limited sunlight available in the cloudy and dark Northern winters. What had been an extremely advantageous trait in one context became an equally disadvantageous trait in a different context. And in the mirror-image counterpart to this scenario, Israel, until very recently, had the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, as a result of a largely Ashkenazi Jewish population - genetically mostly descended from pasty-skinned Central/Eastern Europeans - being transplanted to a very sunny climate. To this day, Australia does have the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, for very similar reasons.

Another example is something like the cluster of mutations that make someone like Yao Ming, or Giannis Antetokounmpo, two very abnormally-tall NBA players. Yao Ming’s extreme height, and Giannis’ massively long arms and enormous hands, make them ideally-suited to play modern NBA basketball. However, these same mutations would come with debilitating drawbacks in a different environment; firstly, the massive caloric load needed to feed them would make them extreme burdens in a harsh environment where food is scarce; their height would also be a massive disadvantage in, say, the Amazonian jungle, where they would constantly be smacking into trees, alerting predators and prey alike. In Yao Ming’s case, he also suffered from a number of injuries to his feet and ankles due to the extreme pressure out on his lower body by his height, significantly shortening his career. These men are very fortunate that they live in a period of human history wherein their atypical qualities could be harnessed into blessings, instead of being life-threatening curses. And on the flip side, the vast majority of Yao’s countrymen in China evolved to be significantly shorter than the global average, since they evolved in the frigid climates of Siberia, where a short and compact body allows for the optimal distribution of body heat. (The “yellow” complexion we associate with East Asians is also a result of the evolutionary pressure created by this same environmental history; it’s due to a thin layer of subcutaneous fat optimized similarly for preserving body heat.)

So, is it “natural” for humans to be dark-skinned, or to be light-skinned? And is it “natural” for them to be tall, or to be short? These questions are unlike questions of the type “is it natural for humans to be healthy, or to be sick?” While some human traits/conditions are purely negative - it is strictly worse to have a flu than it is to not have a flu, and it is strictly worse to have no legs than it is to have two legs - many traits and conditions provide complex sets of tradeoffs, and sometimes whether or not a trait is good or not is entirely context-dependent. Autism, at least of the high-functioning “Asperger’s” variety, is another extreme example of a particular way that some humans are, which provides both massive benefits and significant penalties, both at the same time. I don’t really have a good idea about what Natural Law has to say about those sorts of things. Maybe the sorts of traits and mutations that would be extremely advantageous for human beings trying to survive the ravages of long-distant space travel would be horrendously disadvantageous - even monstrous - here on earth.

I also think it’s amusing that you brought up dogs in the context of Natural Law, given that *nearly every extant dog breed in existence is the profoundly unnatural result of a millennia-long project of directed/molded evolution orchestrated by humans, which has produced bizarre chimeras which could never have emerged in Nature, and which bear essentially no resemblance to their ancestors of even a century ago in some cases. There are no wild pugs or lhasa apsos. The bulldog and the chihuahua are nothing remotely like wolves, nor are they all that much like each other. Do advocates of natural law look at a dachsund and feel existential Lovecraftian horror at the blatant perversion of the natural order which such a creature represents? Think what had to happen to turn a wolf into that!

sickness is an abnormality

You're hitting another of English's terrible ambiguities here - do you mean "abnormality" in the positive or normative sense? If the former then it's easy to think of counterexamples (again, including polio exposure!). I'd guess from

interpret "natural" to be "best possible state", although that goes a smidge too far in the other direction.

that you take a normative meaning, which lets us escape from nature red in tooth and claw, but then that other commenter's "Anyone can claim Natural Law is whatever they want" criticism suddenly sounds quite fair. Infrared vision doesn't sound better than Mark 1 eyeballs to you, but it does to me. I'd need technological help to get it myself, but I also needed that help to escape thousands of years of polio. Which of us is right?

Whether we think of "best" or

think of "natural" as meaning "intended"

the question jumps out: in whose judgement? Perhaps this made immediate sense in a polytheistic world, where a God of Humans might intend them to be healthy while a God of Disease intends polio to spread, and "naturally" we humans want to side with the first guy? But a monotheistic God made that poliovirus too, and in that world "He must have intended it" would seem to be a far safer assumption than "He might not have been paying attention that day". In an atheistic world we could almost get back to the polytheistic case, but not quite - we might try to anthropomorphize evolution, but we still don't end up with an Evolution of Humans that we can side with vs Evolution of Disease; we only have an Evolution of Particular Currently-In-Some-Humans Genes, which isn't universal enough or, ironically, human enough, to form a basis for a Natural Law. Even if Darwin won the argument in one sense, that only suggests that we were asking the wrong question.

Even the "Currently-In-Some-Humans" category gets fuzzy when you look through prehistory. I'm may only be a few dozen trivial mutations from a selection of my parents' genes, and so on with each stage of their ancestors, but do that a million times and we're looking at tree-hopping monkeys. The nature of my ancestors at that point was that they were four-legged animals! At what point did their increasingly-bipedal descendants become "unnatural", and then "natural" again?

Yeah, you're still not grokking Natural Law.

Set aside whether God intended humans to get polio. Lets focus down to ground level here. What does it mean for a human to be sick? How do we know if someone is sick?

Well, we know someone is sick because we have an idea of how healthy humans are supposed to be, and sick humans differ from that. Healthy humans breath easily, humans sick with a chest cold hack and cough and wheeze. Healthy humans are about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit: if you're much hotter or colder than that, you're sick. If you found someone whose leg is black and putrid with necrosis you say to yourself "That doesn't look right. This person is sick."

Yet all of these judgements require us to have an idea of how a human is supposed to be. What a "natural" human is like. When we compare sick humans to the "natural" human, we can see something is wrong. What's more, we believe that it a bad thing to differ from the "natural" human. We don't consider having a leg that is black with necrosis to be just as good as having two legs that are operating normally. Without our conception of a "natural" human, distinguishing sick from healthy is impossible. They're just different kinds of humans that have different ways of being.

Yet it doesn't seem that our idea of healthy and sick is arbitrary. Our concept of the "natural" healthy human seems to correspond to something real. It does seem that humans are "supposed" to have two legs, and that our digestive system is "supposed" to provide us with nutrients, and that our heart is "supposed" to pump blood through our body. It doesn't seem that a heart that stops pumping is just as good a heart as one that keeps pumping. Regardless of whether the heart was created by a mind or by blind evolution, it isn't arbitrary to say that the heart's "purpose" is to pump blood. Or that human's have two legs. Or that eyes that see are better than eyes that are blind.

So in that sense, regardless of whether God intended humans to get polio or not, we can say that a human sick with polio has something wrong with them: to be sick with polio is not "natural" to humans.

I hope that helped.

You've glossed over the question of "how do we define 'humans'" - even repeating "human's have two legs" after my questions about bipedalism. "Humans have two legs" sounds right from my point of view, just like "neohumans have infrared vision" would from theirs, but an Ardipithecus ancestor might think I was just an unnatural change, hopelessly bad at palm walking on my dwindling forelegs. From my ancestors' point of view, am I a natural human, or a deviation from Australopithecus? This question is isomorphic to "will any transhuman descendants of mine be natural transhumans, or deviant humans", save for special pleading.

If we're going to focus on the ground level, look at what we literally find in the ground. Fossils, of a connected web of species, none of which exist except as a series of changes to their ancestors. "Don't make biological improvements" is positively false, and normatively it isn't a "Law" that would preserve some definition of human, it is a rule under which humans would never have existed. Setting aside God(s) doesn't make this idea of Natural Law more defensible, because even just setting aside Young-Earth Creationism begins to make it incoherent. "What is natural for humans" is a dissolved question once you realize that the implicit presupposition of a well-defined "humans" category in space-time is a false premise. Anthropocentrism might have been a reasonable null hypothesis, before we knew any better, but at this point "why are nearly-human creatures so unnatural" makes about as much sense as "why are the stars so tiny". The stars aren't tiny, but realizing that for all but one of them requires perceiving things so far away in space that it requires careful thought for us to realize the exception is just another star rather than a special singleton category of "sun". Non-homo-sapiens hominids aren't unnatural, but realizing that for all but one of them requires perceiving things so far away in time that it requires more careful thought for us to realize the exception is a single link in a chain rather than a special singleton category of "human".

Even "how do we define 'healthy'" isn't a trivial question either.

we have an idea of how healthy humans are supposed to be

Do we? Not a rhetorical question - has the Hygiene Hypothesis been definitively refuted? Last I heard, there was evidence that "never get an infectious illness", even aside from increasing the dangers of any later infection, might also increase the risk of asthma and other autoimmune disorders.

And that's just counting the microorganisms which generally cause illness - breeding completely "germ-free organisms", with no microbiome at all, is even more fraught. For some for the very same microorganisms which cause illnesses in rare excess, the absence of those microorganisms seems to cause autoimmune inflammatory disorders if they're removed. Animals have evolved with asymptomatic infections of dangerous bacteria for so long that we don't actually have the capability of remaining healthy while uninfected! Are pathobionts' presence mandated by Natural Law? Is the answer immutable, or contingent on whether we can discover a safer artificial substitute to expose our immune systems to, like we did with polio?

It doesn't seem that a heart that stops pumping is just as good a heart as one that keeps pumping.

I strongly agree, and since human hearts have a distressing tendency to stop pumping before the rest of the human is ready, I hope neohuman hearts are more capable. By your definition, that would make them more "natural" than us, right? Similarly, it also doesn't seem that an eye whose sensitivity stops at 750nm is just as good as one that can see to 800nm or 850nm. We might thus conclude "neohuman eyes and hearts are more natural than human ones", or at our most justifiably parochial we might say "neohuman eyes are natural to neohumans, human eyes are natural to humans", but for us to say "neohuman eyes are unnatural" would make about as much sense as a non-primate mammal saying "primate eyes are unnatural" (does anyone really need a third visual opsin?) and less sense than a typical bird or fish saying so (wouldn't you agree that losing two independent dimensions of color vision wasn't just as good as keeping them, even if we eventually reevolved one dimension back?).

Maybe a pithy way would be to say "it's natural law, in the sense that it's in the scorpion's nature to sting frogs".

I sometimes see "Natural Law" brought up, the problem is that it's not a consistent framework. Anyone can claim Natural Law is whatever they want - and indeed the entire idea of what's in and out constantly changes!

I'm sure women being outside of the kitchen would've been against "Natural Law" a couple of centuries ago.

Can you provide a reason why I should consider Natural Law as anything other than a justification for arbitrary aesthetic preferences?

I sometimes see "Natural Law" brought up, the problem is that it's not a consistent framework. Anyone can claim Natural Law is whatever they want - and indeed the entire idea of what's in and out constantly changes!

The people claiming "Natural Law" is a thing explicitly reject the idea that they are merely "claiming that Natural Law is whatever they want." You can claim they're wrong, but assuming that their construction is mere whim is assuming the conclusion.

Would you agree that if "Natural Law" is, in fact, just "whatever people want", that our historical record of the formal conception of Natural Law should look like a random walk as peoples' desires shift and change over time?

If the historical record does not look like that, is it a problem for your thesis?

Can you provide a reason why I should consider Natural Law as anything other than a justification for arbitrary aesthetic preferences?

Because if followed, it delivers superior outcomes, presumably.

Clearly I misunderstood what Natural Law is - my experience is mostly idiots on reddit invoking it like some sort of catch-all argument-winning technique.

Well, for one, Natural Law is the philosophical setting out of which all modern Western societies came. It has a profound impact on our current institutions and cultural values, even if you reject it as being truthful. In that particular sense it is not arbitrary but conservative: not just anything can be considered Natural, there is a long tradition that is drawn on. You may think the tradition is arbitrary, but understanding what that tradition in is very useful to understanding where a great many people in the West are coming from, whether they know it or not.

Beyond that practical consideration, Natural Law seeks, at least, to be the opposite of arbitrary. The whole point is that things have a real nature, one that they can conform with or deviate from. That nature is rooted in what they are as a thing, and things are not arbitrary. For instance, Natural Law would say that humans have two legs. If someone is born with one leg, they have something wrong with them. Is the standard "humans have two legs" arbitrary? Did someone just decide it one day? Clearly not. Saying that humans have any number of legs would be far more arbitrary than that.

Most people, likely yourself included, have a lot of Natural Law built into your thinking already. If you say a bicycle is broken, it is because you have an understanding of what a bicycle is supposed to be, and comparing the broken bicycle to the Natural bicycle is how you know that the broken bicycle is broken. The same for a broken leg. If someone asked you whether we should vaccinate a child against polio, you likely wouldn't say "Why? Kids with polio are just as valid as kids without polio." Similarly, if your cat gave birth to a fish you would be surprised and dismayed: if someone told you "Why shouldn't a cat give birth to a fish if it wants?" you would think they were crazy.

Where disagreement occurs is outside the realm of the concrete. We can agree that kids aren't supposed to have polio, and that humans have two eyes, but when it comes to how a society should be we likely come into sharp disagreement. Natural Law comes from the perspective that since humans have a specific nature, human societies have a limited number of ways they can be structured for humans to flourish in them. Just as a human can't flourish if you stab it in the guts, because of the nature of the human body and digestive system, so to it can't flourish if society metaphorically stabs them in the guts. You are not free to structure society, or your life, any way you want to because the reality of what it means to be a human means that some choices are unavailable to you and some choices are really bad ideas (just as it's a bad idea to stab yourself in the guts: saying you shouldn't stab yourself in the guts may be trying to limit your freedom, but its good advice nonetheless).

Now people can disagree on how society should be structured, given the nature of what it is to be a human. That doesn't make those disagreements arbitrary. If someone is working from a Natural Law background then their arguments should be grounded in what it means to be a human. If you disagree with them you can use that grounding in human nature as support. You may be able to defend a great many positions on Natural Law grounds, but you cannot defend any position you like. You can't say that blindness is as good as seeing, or that humans by nature love to be tortured, or that if we pass this specific law people will suddenly start working together without incentive.

Without Natural Law at your back things get more arbitrary, not less. You might argue that transhumanism will prevent disease; without Natural Law I can retort "What's wrong with disease? Why should we value being healthy over sick? Sickness is just an arbitrary category that society puts on those who do not conform to it's expectations." If you argue that transhumanism will increase human ability I might respond "Why should humans have more power? If we have more power we will destroy the Earth, and every living thing on it. We should de-industrialize instead, and fade away until none of us are left." If you argue that transhumanism is a great step forward in human progress, I could respond "Progress is a meta-narrative designed to hide the crimes of industrialists and tyrants, and has no meaning beyond that."

Yet, as a follower of the Natural Law, if you argue to me that transhumanism will prevent disease I may be swayed, for humans are supposed to be healthy. If you argue that transhumanism will increase human ability I might support you, for it is the nature of humans to improve themselves and seek excellency. If you argue that transhumanism is human progress I may or may not disagree, but I would at least agree that there is something to progress towards. You might convince me that transhumanism will allow us to be more fully human than before.

TL,DR: You should take Natural Law seriously because deep down almost everyone in the West, including you, believes in Natural Law, and if you don't then there's nothing left but arbitrary narratives and you become the kind of ghoul who is mad the people are curing the blind because blindness is just as valid as seeing.

without Natural Law I can retort "What's wrong with disease? Why should we value being healthy over sick? Sickness is just an arbitrary category that society puts on those who do not conform to it's expectations."

And we arrive at the bonkers ideology of fat acceptance.

I think a compounding (and also, maybe somehow, complementing?) factor here is that Natural Law is implications in the direction of morality and moral absolutism. In the same way that arbitrariness creates more chaos and leads to negative outcomes for society, moral relativism creates far more pain, chaos, and evil than it "defeats" through its message of radical acceptance. A dirty trick that a lot of intellectually dishonest folks play is to intentionally conflate something amoral with something definitely moral(istic). Take for example the fat acceptance movement...he/she isn't a bad person for being fat! Of course. No one is disagreeing here. But a doctor will tell you you are an unhealthy person for being obese. Unhealthy? How dare you.

But excessive moralism has always been a favorite safety blanket of folks of all stripes. People have always traded social status for anything and everything else for more than they ought to for all of time. Being "right" may, in fact, feel a million times better than being independent and self-sufficient.

But, to quote the noted bard, Tyga, "I don't want to be famous / I just want to be rich."

It sounds like Aristotle’s telos and Plato’s Forms repackaged into a different system. I absolutely respect those ideas I just hadn’t seen that sort of framework before.

I’d argue it might better suit you to go back to the arguments of Aristotle and Plato for the sake of aesthetics and avoiding the No True Scotsman problem at the least. I appreciate the write up and agree with what you’ve spelled out as Natural Law, but I’ve seen so many others use it to arbitrarily justify what they like I honestly have trouble taking it seriously.

Are there any significant differences from Aristotle and Plato’s thought that are unique to Natural Law?

That's an excellent question, and one I'm not fit to answer. All I can tell you is a potted history of Natural Law. Aristotle and Plato are considered some of the first writers to expound on Natural Law, and the Romans (particularly Cicero) expanded on their ideas, particularly as they apply to society. Natural Law got refined further through the Middle Ages and beyond, particularly by Aquinas. A lot of Enlightenment thought was explicitly based in in Natural Law. I'd skim the Wikipedia article on it for more details. Beyond that, you'd have to ask a philosopher.

I have never felt so misunderstood in my entire time in this community. Are you mixing me up with someone else? I did mention doing a double take on your opinions in a past conversation, but when have I ever expressed anything positive about eugenics?

it's just a trojan horse for social control.

Have you ever laid out a positive vision for what you want the future to be, since you don't like mine?

Are you an anarchist? If not, can you explain to me how to lay out a positive vision for a society without resorting to any social control? If you are an anarchist, don't you see how it's a purely negative vision of rejecting any sort of structure?

I've seen this "you guys don't have a positive vision at all, you're just reacting to our glorious progressive revolution" going around, but I don't get how you can say it with a straight face. Remind me again who came up with the whole concept of "deconstruction" and was madly applying it to every positively created social institution we had over the past 50 years?

but it doesn't involve traditional, cis-het men repeatedly sticking their penises inside conventionally attractive cis-het stay-at-home tradwives followed by 9 months of pregnancy discomfort and childbirth - are you going to be joyful that we solved our demographic problem and charted a course towards our brave new future of eugenic John Von Neumanns? Or are you going to be upset that we didn't do it the way you wanted and those nasty degenerates are still having buttsex and dying xir hair blue?

If your answer is the latter, then yeah, I have to say TwoX are probably right about you.

What's that bit about conventional attractiveness supposed to imply? Do I still win if we keep our current sexual dimorphism, 9 month pregnancy and childbirth discomfort, but everybody's really really ugly? How is this supposed to be any kind of dilemma to me anyway? When have I ever expressed a preferences for a race of Von Neumanns running around? Yes, I side with dysgenic trads fucking themselves back to the stone age, and it's not even a contest! But it's not really a test of my principles, whether or not I have positive vision, or whether I'm just reacting to you. If you wanted to set one up, you'd make me chose between blue-haired neo-agrarians reproducing exclusively via butt-sex, and a traditionalist Borg Collective. Setting aside that I don't even know what a "traditionalist" Borg Collective means, and uncomfortable questions about how the neo-agrarians got to reproducing via butt-sex, I will always side with the group that rates lower on the trans-humanist scale.

However, in the last 24 hours, we've had two comments explicitly shaming people who want to have children, specifically because the way they're trying to have children is aesthetically displeasing to you.

(and I suspect for many of the Katja Grace haters it is)

I know you noticed, and I know it surprised you, so why didn't you stop and reassess your view of us, and the implications of our beliefs, when you saw that the people actually expressing any kind of discomfort with the whole Katja Grace thread were Dase, Hlynka, FCfromSSC, SouthKraut, and me? You didn't even say a bloody thing yourself, until you saw Dase speak up!

The limits of our biology are changing by the year. Will you make your children accept the limits of their biology and watch them be crippled by polio, or something?

Oh god, why am I the only one that has to answer reductio ad absurdums around here? Sure! Fuck it, I'll take one for the team!

Are you going to let a giant cyber-blob assimilate the planet because you don't want to stand in the way of progress, or something? Do you have a positive vision, or are you rejecting the blob just because you're such a reactionary?

I'll even grant that surrogacy makes me uncomfortable, though more because I dislike the idea of disempowered people (surrogates in the third world are even more gross) being exploited in yet another way.

Finally, back to the main topic - yes, let's pull that thread a little bit. Like I said, we now know for a fact that the slope is slippery, and as one of the people who made ruthless fun of conservatives for even bringing up the idea in the past, and someone who's horrified by the world around me, I would very much like to know what makes you think this whole thing is going to stop here? You don't like exploiting third world women? How about brain dead surrogates? They can't get any more disempowered than they already are. Please you give me the positive principle that is supposed to stop this insanity.

that the people actually expressing any kind of discomfort with the whole Katja Grace thread were Dase, Hlynka, FCfromSSC, SouthKraut, and me?

What am I, chopped cabbage?

brain-dead surrogates

Contemporary standards of consent cover this pretty handily.

but when have I ever expressed anything positive about eugenics?

I was trying to head off anyone who might be upset about X so we could focus on what I think is salient for the discussion. I don't know what your views on eugenics are, but my base assumption is that most people here believe in HBD and most of those people support some form of eugenics.

Are you an anarchist?

Nope. I'm just here for the music.

If not, can you explain to me how to lay out a positive vision for a society without resorting to any social control?

I'd suggest you go on the internet, join a community (it could even be this one!) and just write. Try and convince your fellow (wo)man of your vision for the world without being a hater. You could also start a substack, write op-eds for legacy media, be one of those youtube influencers, talk to people in meatspace. Tell me about your tradwife utopia in good faith, how you want to get there, and engage in a respectful dialogue.

I've seen this "you guys don't have a positive vision at all, you're just reacting to our glorious progressive revolution" going around, but I don't get how you can say it with a straight face. Remind me again who came up with the whole concept of "deconstruction" and was madly applying it to every positively created social institution we had over the past 50 years?

'No u' isn't a particularly convincing rebuttal. Moreover, it papers over the fact that your specific contribution is at least 90% complaining about 'bad thing my outgroup did this week.' Your idea of a palate cleanser, because the previous conversation was too toxic, is 'look at these gay fucks trying to be happy in a way I dislike. Major Cthulhu/body horror vibes here guys amirite?'

But alright. Come on, arjin. Whip out that meaty, utopian vision of yours and slap my dirty deconstructionist face with it. I'm ready for it.

I know you noticed, and I know it surprised you, so why didn't you stop and reassess your view of us, and the implications of our beliefs, when you saw that the people actually expressing any kind of discomfort with the whole Katja Grace thread were Dase, Hlynka, FCfromSSC, SouthKraut, and me?

Because you turn around and write the exact same thing as yesterday about a different group and are somehow blind to the fact that you're doing it! It's frankly hilarious that you think you're somehow morally superior to the trolls who were shitting on Katja for trying to be happy yesterday, even as you're turning around to shit on gay people trying to be happy today!

It doesn't surprise me at all that there's discord between the Rights who are sympathetic to rationalists and the Rights who aren't, and of course there are plenty of people here who I believe do have good moral character. In fact, I believe most people here probably are perfectly fine (almost certainly far above the median) in real life. The beliefs expressed here are just a small facet of everyone's personality.

But man, they do suck sometimes.

You didn't even say a bloody thing yourself, until you saw Dase speak up!

Why don't you, @aqouta and gattsuru get together and tell me when and what I'm allowed to write and get back to me. You complain if I say something, complain if I don't and I'm pretty sure the actual operative principle here is that you just don't like what I say.

Oh god, why am I the only one that has to answer reductio ad absurdums around here?

Because you carelessly toss bombs like:

Accept the limits of your biology, and move on...Given the utter dominance of the trans ideology, the vindication of the slippery slope argument, and the extrapolated trajectory of these ideas, I believe we have no other choice - Transhumanism must be destroyed!

without making an argument beyond gay people trying to have children is icky, transhumanists are icky, transhumanists must be destroyed! Which leads 'accept the limits of your biology and move on' to be the closest thing to a principle I can distill from your post. Okay...can you elaborate on how I should apply that principle to the rest of my life? Or if that's not your actual principle, what is?

You don't like exploiting third world women? How about brain dead surrogates? They can't get any more disempowered than they already are. Please you give me the positive principle

Brain-dead surrogates don't bother me any more than organ donation does. Put another box to tick next to the organ donation one for womb donation and problem solved. But moving on:

I don't have any objection to a woman choosing to use her body as a surrogate. I get uncomfortable when a woman is forced to choose between abject poverty, slightly less abject poverty flipping burgers or being a piece of womb-meat for ivy-league educated Chad and Jake who live across town. Even more uncomfortable when the woman is in the third world and faces even worse choices. We don't allow pharma companies to entice homeless people into super risky clinical trials with million dollar payouts, and I think the same principle applies here. On the flip side, we also need to incentivize people to work, so the economic carrots need to have at least some bite.

So...maybe utopia is some form of UBI that allows basic needs to be met while still allowing incentives for people to work if they can? Followed by a world where we could grow babies on command without physically incapacitating women for 9 months? Followed by a range of worlds enabled by speculative technology I can't imagine at the moment. I suppose if you boiled it down to principles, bodily autonomy, consent, general freedom in how you decide to pursue happiness balanced with the Greater Good? And, dare I say it, intersectional analysis when it comes to the dynamics between surrogates and couples trying to impregnate them?

Alright, now how about you tell me your vision?

stop this insanity

You want to stop the insanity? Stop being a hater on the internet. Politely tell other people to stop being haters on the internet. Go grill some burgers.

I was trying to head off anyone who might be upset about X so we could focus on what I think is salient for the discussion. I don't know what your views on eugenics are, but my base assumption is that most people here believe in HBD and most of those people support some form of eugenics.

Oh, they're here, but they tend to be on your side of this particular spat.

Try and convince your fellow (wo)man of your vision for the world without being a hater. You could also start a substack, write op-eds for legacy media, be one of those youtube influencers, talk to people in meatspace. Tell me about your tradwife utopia in good faith, how you want to get there, and engage in a respectful dialogue.

Cool, that's exactly what I'm doing. So I guess arguing against surrogacy isn't social control.

'No u' isn't a particularly convincing rebuttal.

It wasn't meant to be convincing as much as it was setting boundaries. I'm not going to smile and nod as I'm being accused of something your entire movement is based on.

Moreover, it papers over the fact that your specific contribution is at least 90% complaining about 'bad thing my outgroup did this week.'

Oh, it's fair enough as a personal criticism, just not an ideological one. Also I think 10% is a pretty good result!

without making an argument beyond gay people trying to have children is icky

even as you're turning around to shit on gay people trying to be happy today!

'look at these gay fucks trying to be happy in a way I dislike. Major Cthulhu/body horror vibes here guys amirite?'

Fun fact: that's not what I said. I was criticizing surrogacy, and as curious_straight_CA helpfully informs us most of those are done by straight couples. The reason I brought up how we went from gay marriage to surrogacy for gay couples was to criticize the progressive ideology, and how it gets you to sign on to unobjectionable things in the name of tolerance, only to pull you down to agree to practices that are, frankly, horrifying. The best part - which you are currently engaging in - is when it tries to frame your objection to the horrifying practice as attack on an entire group of people, most of who have nothing to do with the practice.

Because you turn around and write the exact same thing as yesterday about a different group and are somehow blind to the fact that you're doing it! It's frankly hilarious that you think you're somehow morally superior to the trolls who were shitting on Katja for trying to be happy yesterday,

I'm not blind to anything, and I'm fully aware of what I'm doing, and yes it is morally superior to criticize a practice not attached to any particular person or group, then it is to generate drama around particular person that - at worst - made some poor decisions in the past.

It doesn't surprise me at all that there's discord between the Rights who are sympathetic to rationalists and the Rights who aren't

But that's my point - this isn't what's happening. I didn't not attack Katja because I'm sympathetic to rationalists, this whole thread is a swipe at their ideas.

I suppose it could be as simple as "good moral character", but I also have to feeling you're fundamentally misunderstanding us.

transhumanists are icky, transhumanists must be destroyed! Which leads 'accept the limits of your biology and move on' to be the closest thing to a principle I can distill from your post. Okay...can you elaborate on how I should apply that principle to the rest of my life? Or if that's not your actual principle, what is?

Now "transhumanists are icky" is something I said, and that is where the major Cthulhu vibes are coming from, and I'll defend every word of it. I take it you're not a fan of the bombastic style, and you'd prefer something more contemplative and precise, but cut me some slack, I was having some fun, and I didn't think you of all people would get so upset about some humor at rationalists' expense.

As to how the principle would impact your life, that's a fair question. Sorry for being flippant before, but sometimes it's hard to tell whether someone is setting you up for a dunk, or asking an honest question. Broadly speaking I think there's a relatively defined line around repair and enhancement, where repair would be completely fine, and enhancement would not. There might be some tricky areas at the boundaries, but there always are some with any principle. There are folks going around saying how that's what Catholics and Natural Law philsophers were advocating for. I heard these arguments when I was young, but I only half-remember them now so I don't know if I can sign under them 100%. Still, that might be something to look up if you want these arguments elaborated on.

On the other hand I think it's a fair question to ask about the other side of the boundary. If enhancement is ok, when does it stop? Is everything ok as long as it's voluntary? A lot of enhancements would probably quickly spread through the human population, because they make things more convenient, but are things that give us convenience always good for us? When I bring up my Luddism people sometimes ask me things like "what, so you would get rid of the Internet? You really don't see any benefit from it?" Sure I do! My career, and a lot of my hobbies are directly connected to it. I met interesting people that I would have never met otherwise... but it's hard to miss the downsides. My attention span got shot. I have way too little patience for normies, when people on the same wavelength are so easy to reach. I'm way less connected to local communities than I used to be before the Internet took off. Even Internet communities themselves went from a relatively flat distribution of many small groups, to an extreme Pareto distribution where a handful of influencers on a handful of platforms command the overwhelming majority of the attention. All of this happened voluntarily, and is now opening the door to tools of surveillance that could only be conceived by crazy mofos like Jeremy Bentham. And protections against state surveillance don't cut it either, if all this power is located at Google or Amazon, it's just as scary, even when it's completely voluntary, even when it's more convenient, even when it resulted from people pursuing happiness.

I could go on, I could bring up the rates of depression and mental illness and ask what if cutting everyone loose to pursue their own happiness just makes them miserable, I could ask what if we end up chasing petty amusements and as a result forget the basic skills required to keep the lights on, but let's bring it back to surrogacy and crazier transhumanist ideas like Neuralink, CRISPR, and whatnot - you really cannot see how any of this could go horribly wrong? Do we have no right to stop it, just because people agree to it? Even if it results in the replacement of the human species with some horror beyond my comprehension?

Alright, now how about you tell me your vision?

On a whim, I recently rewatched all the 90's Star Trek shows, the go-to reference for optimistic SciFi. A thought that struck me, was that virtually all of the optimism actually comes from what you'd describe as a reactionary rejection of progress, rather than "we abolished hunger", equality, rationality, post-scarcity and other reasons people commonly reach for. After all the Borg have all of those things as well.

With all the tech they have, it's a miracle that they're still recognizably human. The crew had encounters with aliens that were rewriting their DNA on the fly, and they only used their technology for a cure, even though the fact they could concoct a cure means they could turn themselves into whatever they wanted. Cybernetic implants and prosthetics exist, but are absurdly benign for their level of technology. Some of the most iconic episodes are about the crew being tempted by some technology or some advanced alien, and them rejecting that temptation. Their society is devoted to a variety of edifying pursuits: science, exploration, art, craftsmanship, and cultivating traditions. A charming thing about it is the rejection of hyper-specialization, it seems like all the crew members make a point to dabble in various arts even when they suck at them.

Then on top of that, a few words on relationships. TNG aside, my utopian society would encourage stable long-term (ideally for-life) monogamous relationships, strong family and community relations, a love as a higher value that goes beyond the warm fuzzy feelings.

Sounds pretty good to me.

You want to stop the insanity? Stop being a hater on the internet. Politely tell other people to stop being haters on the internet. Go grill some burgers.

So... how does that stop things like going from gay marriage to being demanded to clap for 14 year old girls getting mastectomies?

Neither a dedicated HBD'er nor eugenicist, though I would suggest one can be the former without being the latter. Just for your files. There was a raise-your-hand thread in HBD support a while back but apparently this site's search function is failing me.

Why don't you, @aqouta and gattsuru get together and tell me when and what I'm allowed to write and get back to me. You complain if I say something, complain if I don't and I'm pretty sure the actual operative principle here is that you just don't like what I say.

I'm confused why I was invoked here, I did not think I would have left such an impression on you. I have never and would never tell someone not to write something especially if they believe in it. That does not mean I won't criticize what I see as poor arguments like that idea that conservatives need some positive vision to oppose what they see as corrosive ideas. I'm not even really properly a rightist.

Read the post linked before your name, and the comment of yours I replied to.

Ah, well yeah, I quite dislike the shaming tactic of "is this what we've come to?", I disliked it when Dase did it in this thread too despite recognizing the same low quality discourse that inspired it. It is, at the very least, consensus building - which is against our rules here for good reason. If you want to make a criticism I'd rather it be more narrowly tailored to the actual offenders, I think this is a value you'd find useful in other contexts. I've pushed back against Arjin in this very thread, something you don't seem inclined to give me credit for by whatever aggregation method you use to lump all us witches together. It's not even a matter of rudeness so much as a clear sign you are falling prey to Out-group homogeneity bias. I'm sure you are off-put by this same bias in the other direction quite frequently and quite justifiably in this place.

All the interesting discussions that have been had here and you decide that the proper measure that we should be paying attention to are the lowest quality threads you can find. The kind of gossipy nonsense I barely even resisted the urge to collapse and only returned to from a ping. I'm not even saying if you don't like it don't read it or don't criticize it. Definitely do that. But don't attack this place for giving you the opportunity to.

Keep fighting the good fight Chris. Don't have much to add, but I enjoy your comments and your consistency.

Here's a question that I have about that handmaid's tale maternity photo shoot that you linked. Is this gay couple going to include that woman in the child's life as the child's mother? If not, is this weird picture going to be something that the child gets to look at in their lonely moments wondering who the woman was who gave birth to them, and what it would have been like to have her as a mother? Did this couple think any of these things at all themselves?

My biggest problem with surrogacy, as I stated in another comment, is that the child is left being forced to embrace parents who paid their biological mother and gestating mother to go away forever so that they could assume a full parental role.

It seems like that child is sort of compelled from birth to ignore the psychological and emotional implications of having two male parents who paid their mom to go away because they wanted to feel normal. That's why it's not the same as adoption, because the new family that you're supposed to embrace did not contractually obligate your biological parents to give you up.

The surrogate came up with and posted the photo shoot idea (and also isn't the genetic mother?). Her name is public (at least through TikTok) and self-describes as a 'surrogacy advocate', and other photos from the set naming her are in fairly mainstream media. According to this piece, "The Dlugosz family [two men and the kid] still plans Capital Region visits. Zwicker [the surrogate] expects the relationship to wane over time. For her, that’s OK."

Zwicker seems to very strongly object to being identified as the child's mother, and probably not solely for the legal or genetic reasons, but neither does it look like the fathers paying her to go away the second the c-section was over. It's hard for me to read if it's to prevent herself from getting too attached, or because she just doesn't feel it's the same as with her first child and doesn't want to get in the way of the people who are, and she might not be entirely sure herself. Surrogacy clinics claim to do significant prematch screening, and there's a lot of media discussion (and, uh, horror stories with legal snafus) enough that I'd expect any prospective surrogate-seekers to have at least considered it.

More generally, attitudes vary. I'd personally consider it healthier if there's some longer-term relationship, historically this has been favored, and there's some evolving norms around 'surrogate aunts' or similar more euphemistic references. But there are parents (sometimes feeling that they'd be treated as non-parents, sometimes worried about legal trouble if a surrogate mother has regrets) or surrogates (since there can sometimes be financial or legal issues that way!) who prefer a more immediate or direct break afterward.

((And, in practice, as many surrogacies look to involve infertile het (or XY/XX trans-gender-weird) couples as gay ones. Zwicker's photoshoot here was her second surrogacy, with her first going to Zwicker's cousin and that cousin's husband.))

To me it looks like the woman acting as s surrogate here gets a lot of social support and validation from being a surrogate. However, so do many prostitutes, and so would people paid to donate a lobe of their liver or a kidney. I think it should be the same thing. You can have sex for free, you can donate an organ, and you should be able to donate the act of surrogacy, but you shouldn't be able to do any of these things as a paid service because that's bad for society. And yes, for me that does include pornography where the actors are paid to have sex with each other on camera. Commercial pornography is causing a lot of problems. Labor laws (no pun intended) exist to prevent the rich from exploiting the working class beyond what is tolerable or humane, and requires society to create non-exploitive forms of work to continue functioning.

Many jurisdictions place surrogacy in a similar space to prostitution and organ donation, where ostensibly paying for it is illegal. In practice, this largely just converts into a gray market, so just as 'escorts' or 'companions' (who are only being paid for their company, and if sex happens, whoops), 'unpaid surrogates' that are compensated for lodging or lost work opportunity usually sneak through. Zwicker's first surrogacy (for a cousin) was somewhat unusually in being completely unpaid, but it was also unpleasant enough juggling that and her own child she wouldn't have done it for family again.

I'm not convinced that's a better model, or that a hard ban would be (prohibiting adoption where there's sign of collaboration beforehand? clawing back funds? I'm not sure how you'd make that work, but let's assume something's possible, since this is a lot more seeable-as-a-state than prostitution). I could see that sort of policy having some impact on the marginal cases, where someone just on the border of affording to buy or being willing to sell doesn't go through with it, but the marginal cases aren't the ones that bring comparisons to axotl tanks or broodmothers.

But I'm... uh, probably going to have some pretty fundamental values differences. And even experience differences: I recognize how a lot of the bigger commercial vendors range from 'merely' scuzzy drug-addict-optimizers or abusing the bounds of informed consent to overtly ignoring rape or trafficking, but it's not clear how much of that is the commercial porn and how much is California and eastern Europe being the core of modern commercial pornography, and on the other extreme 'commercial pornography' in the furry fandom has a widely different set of problems mostly tied to artists needing better wrist support.

I probably don't have a good model of what you consider the "bad for society" bit here.

To give you a quick hit, bad for society is when your therapist can mention surrogacy as a legal way out of your poverty.

Yes, and the correlated bit where your social worker could mention it right before an SSDI/welfare interview. But I don't see this as something specific to the formal recognition; both therapists and social workers shouldn't encourage outright illegal conduct (uh, shouldn't), but both groups are organizationally and foundationally designed around Not Quite Illegal things. They're not always good at it, but they're usually not that bad, either.

Another example of where it could go bad: where you can be denied welfare because you were offered a job as a surrogate and refused it.

Actually is that a thing? As far as I can tell you cannot currently become a gestational surrogate if you are receiving welfare, so I think it's not. But seeing evidence of that happening at any sort of significant scale would be one of the few things which would turn my opinion against surrogacy as an option.

My concern is more so a push toward commodified bodies. Seeing the poor as simply a collection of body parts and processes to be purchased at the whim of the better off who can afford to buy access if not the body part in question. Or perhaps as technology improves the creation of axotl tanks from human females who are chemically lobotomized and used simply for breeding purposes.

all the trans stuff, and 72 genders is just a foot in the door for transhumanism

Nah; those are the arm in the door. The foot first slipped a toe into the door a hundred thousand years ago.

I wear artificial skins, because otherwise my own skin wouldn't protect me from dying of exposure or being crippled by sunburn.

I wear artificial soles on my feet, because my own can be worn out by too much running on a nice surface or badly injured by one unlucky step on a rocky surface.

I partially predigest most of my food in artificial fires, because my own teeth are too small and my stomach and immune system too weak to handle everything I eat otherwise. My meat is cut up with artificial claws, because my own fingernails are even more pathetic than my teeth.

I wear artificial lenses over my eyes, because my own don't focus well enough at far distances.

In the next decade or two there's a 50/50 chance I'll only be alive due to artificial thyroid hormone; I'm getting close to the age where my father's and grandmother's own natural production went haywire and had to be replaced by pills.

About a third of my countrymen born today came out through artificial incisions rather than their mothers' own vaginas. Within 6 months, three quarters of them get artificial milk in addition to or instead of their mother's own breast milk. About half of them wouldn't have made it past their own birth and childhood if not for post-industrial medical economics and technologies.

Today most of my work time is spent telling silicon artificial brain extensions how to think better, to solve problems much too big for our previous graphite-and-wood-pulp-based extensions, much less our own brains alone. Right now I'm communicating with a silicon "voice", because even if my own voice could shout a hundred times as loudly as humanly possible you'd still never hear it.

On the one hand, I do totally get the appeal of (small-c) conservatism here! In general the proposition "Let's just all try this new X because it's better and it won't have any side effects and we won't change to become dependent on it and it'll never go away" is a train of thought that derailed from "reasonable" to "wait, shouldn't we at least worry about possibly being wrong?" very very quickly. I think we've been pretty lucky with it so far, but even just being a little wrong with each new change is a sobering thought when applied to an unlimited set of possible changes over unbounded time scales. I've certainly abandoned some traditional values that my ancestors held precious, and although I could fairly point out to them "you did the same to your ancestors, who did the same to theirs, so what did you expect?", I can't say I'm happy with all the implications of the expectation that my descendants will do the same to me. At this point I agree that there's even a serious risk of not even having anything I'd recognize as "my descendants", of having everything I value either quickly destroyed or gradually outcompeted by the results of drastic once-unimaginable changes.

But the catch is, for many lifetimes this fact of constantly changing traditions has been a longstanding tradition. It's no longer even logically possible to avoid major changes, because the ability for society to squelch unprecedented changes would itself be an unprecedented change! Trying to use persuasion alone is laudable but just isn't universally effective. How could world culture be so easily imbued with far more overwhelming agreement and totalizing enforcement? (if you think "potential airstrikes against rogue data centers" is hard to popularize, wait until you try "potential police raids of rogue families") But without some mechanism to ensure overwhelming buy-in, even if we were to Retvrn to whatever year N we somehow all agreed had gotten things right, in roughly 2023-minus-N years we'd find ourselves right back here again, because "evolving into N+1" is one of the things that happens in year N. Is there an alternative? Should we come up with some altered revision of older beliefs and traditions, some Neo-N ideology, which preserves the best things about year N while making every change necessary to make Neo-N a stable rather than a constantly evolving environment, maybe even allowing new changes if and only if we're actually sure that they're really long-term changes for the better? It might be a good idea, and we could certainly try. If we're lucky, this new ideology might be better, might not have any side effects, might not change us, and might never go away. Wait...

Do the TERFs you hang out with have problems with women making such claims? For instance, extending government-provided fertility treatment to single women and lesbians? I suspect not, as feminism and especially radical feminism has long been focused on the destruction of reproduction as a fundamental human experience involving a man and a woman into one solely involving a woman by breaking the ties between sex and reproduction, reducing men to subhuman servitors existing solely to provide resources and genetic material to women. Surrogacy is rejected because it would equate women's role with men's, reducing them to a mere cog in the process of reproduction rather than being in control of it.

Disgust? Read how disgusting and unnatural people saw IVF, contraception, organ transplants, blood transfusion, anaesthesia, open chest surgery, autopsy of the dead and other medical procedures we now take for granted when they were new.

Nothing is more arbitrary the disgust, and not only in the medical field.

Obligatory obscure anecdote: I remember reading memoir of 19th century German settler in Russia.

Germans arrived on empty land given them by Tsar, and began to cultivate it according to their customs. This included using animal manure to fertilize the fields.

The local Russian peasants were disgusted, revolted and absolutely horrified.

"These furrin devil worshippers spread animal shit on their fields, instead of throwing in to the river to get rid of it as normal people do! Do they want to poison good Orthodox people with shit bread?"

Few years later:

"See the how big harvests do these swine have, while we good Orthodox people can barely feed themselves! Satan is helping them! Burn down their village, now!"

I remember reading memoir of 19th century German settler in Russia.

Have you read any primary-source accounts by the actual people purported to be doing the hating? If not, why are you confident that this account of ethnic animosity is objective and reliable enough to illuminate your understanding of human nature?

I'm not getting what you're concerned about. The maternity shoot is tacky, I agree. But surrogacy seems like a totally fine thing, and your disgust doesn't really make any sense to me.

"When did society change on this" is one thing, "This is morally wrong" is another. I don't see why we need to accept a limit of biology.

If surrogacy is totally fine, what exactly is tacky about the photo?

Being in the back with her head down and her face obscured makes her look like the "before" part of an SSRI commercial. She's supposed to be looking at the baby, but it doesn't work because the baby isn't the focus of the picture. Either the baby should be the focus and all three of them should be looking at it, or the couple should stay as the focus but she should be looking at them and smiling. As it is, she looks unhappy and disconnected.

I couldn't explain it, probably just a view I have of what makes a good photo which I haven't interrogated. I think one issue is the way in which the surrogate is just hanging around the back. If they had her front and center with them, I think I'd cringe less.

The surrogacy doesn't bother me either, but that photo kind of looks to me like a meme image, maybe you're getting the same vibe. By putting her in the back with her head down, I expect a caption underneath like "I'm having their damn baby and they just keep gazing at each other smdh". It blows my mind that the photo was her idea.

Edit: I mean ffs it's called our "maternity" shoot, inverted commas implying irony and everything, and the pregnant woman is not even in focus, you could even interpret it as saying these two guys don't give a shit about the baby, they only care about themselves and what a baby will give them. Was this chick throwing a master-class in shade?

As a mild transhumanist, I don't like the perspective of a subroutine that's somewhat similar to the processes in our brains either. It's approximately as valuable to me after I perish as 1+ organisms that have genes somewhat similar to some of the genes I had: i. e. not at all.

I resolve to not upload myself until either I'm terminally ill or old anyway, or the uploading technology demonstrates that it can support continuity and wholeness of thought (such as, for example, Ship-of-Theseusing a willing test subject halfway).

I find the photograph rather tasteless, with the surrogate mother reduced to a walking womb in the background. Either treat her as a person or keep her out of your family photos altogether.

There's another problem with surrogacy, that of birth defects, something it has in common with all IVF births. As long as the happy gay couple in question won't give any of their defective babies up for adoption, I don't consider surrogacy itself to be morally wrong, for more or less the same reasons @Astranagant gives.

I find the photograph rather tasteless, with the surrogate mother reduced to a walking womb in the background.

Seems to me like the photograph, like videos of abattoirs, is tasteless mainly in how honest it is about the dynamic that underpins the service.

the vindication of the slippery slope argument

Looks like we have gone from this to this...

Credit to the great @Dramarama for making these....

Low effort, you've been told before to lay off the rdrama memes.

Sure, low effort on my part. But the Marsey's themselves are so amazing they just have to be shared. Doing so brings joy to the world. There is a reason they got over 400 upvotes on Drama.

"The slippery slope is a fallacy!" they say, as they strap on their skis.

I find surrogacy morally absurd, in pretty much the same reaction you do. I have gone back and forth on it with @TracingWoodgrains (respectfully) before, and it is (sadly) one of the best examples of why I can't adopt a 'live and let live' perspective, although I am dispositionally inclined toward that. I think it is a a sister moral issue to abortion, involving the commoditization of children and subordinating the natural family to liquid modernistic relativism.

Where I will push back, is that I don't think it's so much a transhuman issue as another slip of the sexual liberation + LGBT slope and repudiation that gay rights had much more social effect than, people doing their thing in the bedroom. Much like Grindr-> Tinder, this is another social-sexual transformation of norms that really matured in the gay community before being adopted by elite, then PMC straights.

Of course, straight surrogacy has been in the public consciousness for a long time (Phoebe from friends had a plotline around this in the 90s). But it really became trendy in the last decade through wealthy DINKy gay couples using this as an equal access avenue to 'biological children.

You will probably be mocked here and elsewhere for the Lovecraftian horror descriptor, but it fully resonates with me. But let me back it up, and roll back my anti-LGBT perspective here. This is ALL DOWNSTREAM from contraception, socially acceptable divorce and casual sex. I have become less and less patient with people who try to propose some limiting factor to sexual liberation that stops exactly where they want it.

The Catholic view is really the only one that provides a complete and coherent counter framework against this that isn't a bunch of special pleading.

I 100% agree. The choice is between Alphonsus Ligouri and Sam Brinton, and functionally there isn’t a stable middle ground even though everyone wants one- it’s a parabolic slippery slope where if you hit the middle ground you have too much momentum not to launch straight at the other position.

I mean, technically there’s also the position of sheikh al-Wahhab. But the Dar-Al-Islam isn’t exactly compatible with western civilization.

The Catholic view is really the only one that provides a complete and coherent counter framework against this that isn't a bunch of special pleading.

I don't disagree, like I mentioned in the other comments, I've found myself quite receptive to Catholic moral teachings, it's just that I'm still atheist. So whereas you might say "no sex before marriage, no divorce, no abortions, and no condoms, because that's what God commanded", I would say "no sex before marriage, no divorce, no abortions, and no condoms, because if you allow it, the next thing you know some smartass is going to stick Neuralink up your earhole and turn you into one of Jeff Bezos' automatons".

Well Catholicism has the additional advantage of a sub-philosophy that suggests all these morals expressed within Natural Law, which doesn't necessarily have to be founded on "God".

But you're going to run into the pushback you find in the relativism across your other responses. You're framework is dismissed as an aesthetic complain because the moral relativist, the materialist, and the moral liberalist are married in gnawing at an object morality as arbitrary.

A Natural Law view offers a complete and coherent opposite view (while other conservative or Protestant viewpoints don't imho), but it doesn't and can't address why this not that. I suggest biting the bullet and deriving a religious foundation for your moral intuition or accept being homeless in a neighborhood of transhumanists.

Natural law has nothing to do with christianity. It was invented by greek pagans hundreds of years before christianity began, and only became part of catholic doctrine in the 13th century when Aquinas brought it in, and never got baked into the other branches of christianity like it somehow did with catholicism.

Natural law has nothing to do with christianity...only became part of catholic doctrine in the 13th century when Aquinas brought it in

In other words, it doesn't have nothing to do with it.

and never got baked into the other branches of christianity like it somehow did with catholicism.

Which is why I explicitly said that was an advantage of Catholicism over Protestantism, in this sense.

In other words, it doesn't have nothing to do with it.

Christianity is fundamentally about God, right? So given that natural law came into one branch of christianity in the way that it did, the fact that there is no compelling indication that God cares about natural law is an argument against that branch of christianity moreso than it is against my point, unless you think Thomas Aquinas is the second coming of jesus or something.

Which is why I explicitly said that was an advantage of Catholicism over Protestantism, in this sense.

It is an advantage in what sense? Its not like it makes catholicism more likely to be true than protestantism, or the coptic church, greek orthodox church, armenian apostolic church etc.

I suggest biting the bullet and deriving a religious foundation for your moral intuition or accept being homeless in a neighborhood of transhumanists.

I don't mind biting the bullet, but accepting a religious foundation requires faith, and that's something I'm lacking at the moment. Maybe the day will come, but it hasn't yet.

People often defend surrogacy with the idea that people have the right to do what they want with their bodies. I appreciate and respect those willing to stand in a libertarian defense of something I value, but for my part, I strongly prefer a more affirmative case.

For context, my husband and I are currently talking with a potential surrogate and working out some of the many, many logistical challenges on the road to parenthood. We're in early stages, and there is a great deal to be worked out, but we fully intend on becoming parents as soon as realistically possible. Given that, none of this debate is abstract for me, and I am as far from a neutral party as one can get.

While there are cases in which I respect the value of libertarian frameworks legally and I lean far towards "live and let live" from a metacultural standpoint, there is nothing libertarian about my moral approach to life. I do not believe all choices are equally valid or that there is nothing wrong with hedonism. I do not see things like parenthood as neutral choices that people can take or leave. Rather, what is perhaps my most fundamental philosophical conviction is this: life is Good, human life especially so. The most natural things in the universe are death, decay, and emptiness. Growth, life, and creation are fragile anomalies. We belong to an eons-long heritage of those who have committed to building and maintaining life in the face of inevitable decay. Our duty is to do the same.

Becoming a parent and raising children well is, put simply, the most good almost anyone in the world can do. It is a force multiplier: the good an individual can do is necessarily constrained compared to what their descendants can accomplish. People try to dodge around this, and even longtermists like Will MacAskill who intellectually understand the value of parenthood make excuses for it in their own lives. But it seems incontrovertibly true to me. People, particularly if they are in a position to provide well for children, should become parents. It is not a neutral action among many neutral actions. It is a moral ideal that people should pursue.

All of this takes us to adoption and surrogacy. I accept as a given that the ideal situation for a child is to be raised by their biological parents in a stable home. Inasmuch as social science is worthwhile to note, it has mostly backed this idea up. But for the most part, when people pursue other outcomes, the choice is not between "have biological parents raise a given child in a stable home" and "pursue other family structures for that child". For adoption, the value is obvious and non-controversial given the choice: "bring a child into a loving, stable home without its biological parents" or "send the child to an orphanage, toss it to the wolves, or pursue one of many other tragic outcomes for unwanted children". For most cases of surrogacy, the choice is a bit different: "create a child that will be raised by one or both biological parents in a stable home, but whose birth mother is not their genetic mother or caretaker" or "create no child".

Some people's moral intuitions are that nonexistence is preferable to, or not obviously worse than, existence in a less-than-ideal setting. I wholly reject this intuition, and looking at the record of the persistence of life in the face of adversity, belong to a heritage of those who have, time and time again, rejected it. Life is Good.

As for surrogate mothers? There is nobility, dignity, and grace in parenthood. Bringing a child into the world is an act of hope. To do so on behalf of another, even when provided financial compensation, is not a neutral or profit-focused choice. It's certainly not something that could or should ever be demanded of someone. It's a selfless choice both on behalf of the child who would otherwise not be born and the prospective parents who would otherwise have no children. The woman I've been talking a bit about it with is a young mother who feels she is not in a spot to responsibly raise more children of her own, but strongly wants to keep having children on behalf of others. That's a standard profile for a surrogate, and it's one I see as deeply admirable.

On my own behalf, I claim no fundamental right to have children, because I claim no rights that require others to act. But I absolutely claim that a society in which those who are equipped to raise children, and want to do so, can work alongside those who want to give birth to others' children is in a better spot than one that keeps children with potential to lead meaningful lives from being born. For my own part, while I won't claim to any extraordinary personal ability in terms of parenting, I have no doubt whatsoever that my husband is someone who should be a father, and I am grateful to live in a world where that's a possibility.

There are margins at which some of these arguments shift. There are absolutely exploitative and tragic environments that should be understood and called out. There are settings into which it's not appropriate to bring a child, and edge cases to analyze and discuss. My aim here is not to address all edge cases, but to examine the central case, and in particular, the case for an educated, well-off prospective parent in a society with lower-than-replacement fertility and increasing dismissiveness towards the value of parenthood. Life is worth pursuing and preserving to such a degree that you can get very far from the true ideal case before nonexistence is better than existence, or choosing not to become a parent is better than choosing to become one.

Is this all a foot in the door for transhumanism? I won't speak for others, but on my own behalf I eagerly answer: yes. In a universe where the most natural things are death, decay, and emptiness and all of life is in rebellion against that natural state, it is not just acceptable to prioritize what is Good over what is natural, it is correct. While we all must come to peace with limitations we cannot change, the high points of human history have been our collective work to push back against that creeping entropy and the arbitrary, often cruel limits it imposes. We have already become much more than we once were, and we can and should become much more than we are now.

While there are cases in which I respect the value of libertarian frameworks legally and I lean far towards "live and let live" from a metacultural standpoint, there is nothing libertarian about my moral approach to life. I do not believe all choices are equally valid or that there is nothing wrong with hedonism. I do not see things like parenthood as neutral choices that people can take or leave.

This does not resemble my read on the impulse of libertarianism. Or at least no the strong version that I respect and in some ways identify with. Libertarians are not(necessarily) moral relativists. They do not believe that all other ways of being are equally good but they have the humility to realize that imposing morality on others is an arms race for which the victor is not at all guaranteed to be the group that actually has the superior morality, in fact defection and bad morality are likely a competitive advantage in the imposing your morality on others game.

For context, my husband and I are currently talking with a potential surrogate.

Oh man, this was supposed to be a fun abstract culture war spat. The vintage type, before wokeness, like when we used to hate each other about abortion. I don't know if I can do this when real stakes are involved.

I don't suppose there's anything I can do to change your mind? Any alternatives I can get you to consider? How about one of those dating sites for people who want to have kids? I heard they're popular with gay peolple. Anything where you wouldn't literally be purchasing another human being?

Unfortunately, the alternative to "go with a surrogacy service" isn't "find a dating site with someone who enjoys pregnancy enough to do it for free", for almost anyone. Trivially, while there's not a ton of gay couples looking for surrogates, but there's even fewer women with pregnancy (and turkey baster) kinks, and even of those not all want to go through the full process, and even fewer can absorb the financial and workweek ramifications.

((And I'm not sure the objection specified by @Catsnakes_ of "paying someone else to make a baby and abandon it" 'reals'; people have focused on adoption as a comparison, but there's other metaphors that break things. If I found a lady willing to do the initial part of the baby-making for free, but we went with embryo transfer at six days, is that better? What about vice versa, from a paid genetic surrogate to a gratis gestational one?))

I think an easier way to solve this Gordian knot (if you'll excuse the Solomon metaphor) is just to get rid of the 'abandon it' side. There's nothing in surrogacy that requires the gestational mother to be kicked out; to the minimal extent breaking contact has been favored in the past reflected legal concerns. Paying a mother to let you help raise a kid is a lot less fraught, and has a much longer historical background.

Unfortunately, the alternative to "go with a surrogacy service" isn't "find a dating site with someone who enjoys pregnancy enough to do it for free", for almost anyone. Trivially, while there's not a ton of gay couples looking for surrogates, but there's even fewer women with pregnancy (and turkey baster) kinks, and even of those not all want to go through the full process, and even fewer can absorb the financial and workweek ramifications.

I brought it up because I know for a fact that these sites, and these women do actually exist - although not quite in the way you described it. I saw one in my country, but Google turns up a bunch of American examples (1, 2). The big difference is that these women actually want to have a kid, so you wouldn't get to keep it exclusively, but the whole "commissioning the creation of a child, only to yank them away from their mother's loving breast" is part of the horror of surrogacy to me, so having both parents involved in the child's life is the whole point. I find these "quick, anyone, let's make a baby!" "dating" sites, quite morbid themselves, but they're way better than surrogacy.

Aye, that's the trouble with culture war spats, isn't it? None of them are abstract for everyone, and the culture war has real stakes. I want to live in a culture where my family and I can live according to our values and build alongside people who share those values. Emphasizing where surrogacy fits within that frame, and carving out space where people won't look at my family with the sort of suspicion and hissing condemnation @Catsnakes_ below illustrates is a real, important part of that.

To opponents of surrogacy, "literally purchasing another human being" and "providing compensation for the complex and demanding circumstances needed to create a human being" are a distinction without a difference; all I can say is that I see a crucial distinction, and see surrogacy as no more purchasing a human being than IVF or, more disputably, paying a hospital for childbirth. We live in a world where money is inextricably tied up in even intimate human interactions, but that doesn't strip them of their humanity or their worth.

As for changing my mind—look, obviously people stake a lot on major life decisions, and I can't pretend I expect my mind to change on this one. If it were to change, though, it would happen the same way it always does: either by convincing me that some of my values are poorly conceived, or working within the frame of my own values to convince me that my plans don't live up to them. That's why I don't really expect a change, of course—I've spent a long while considering my values and finding the right landing spot, and I suspect I'm mostly past the stage of serious, rather than marginal, adjustments. But the pathway to change is straightforward.

Aye, that's the trouble with culture war spats, isn't it? None of them are abstract for everyone, and the culture war has real stakes.

There's degrees of it though. I can show more sympathy when discussing trans issues with a trans person, and just focus on the facts of the matter. This is a pure values disagreement and it's hard to get around that. It's fun enough discussing those too, but the fun quickly evaporates when you discover the person you're arguing about Roe vs Wade with is getting an abortion next week.

I want to live in a culture where my family and I can live according to our values and build alongside people who share those values.

Yes, everybody does, there's the rub isn't it?

Emphasizing where surrogacy fits within that frame, and carving out space where people won't look at my family with the sort of suspicion and hissing condemnation @Catsnakes_ below illustrates is a real, important part of that.

Funnily enough Botonds comment could be interpreted as poking fun at either one of us, but I'm going to use it to support my argument here. Yes, what you want is understandable, again that's what everybody wants for themselves, but your comment is written in a weird way that seems to imply your values are best values. If you found out your next door neighbor is a cannibal - not a murderer mind you, everybody he eats is some weirdo he met online that wants to be eaten, you see stories like that every once in a while. Oh and let's say he doesn't even eat the whole person, just their hand or something, and the other guy is completely happy about it afterwards - wouldn't you let out the least bit of a hissing condemnation? Would you want the practice to be against the law? Would you want him to still be your neighbor? What would you make of the cannibal's pleas for wanting to live in a culture where he and his family can live according to their values?

The other thing is, while I find the dead-eyed "yes, I'm for surrogacy" attitude somewhat admirable, I can't help the resentment building up upon hearing the charming gay couple down the street, whose rights I helped fight for, tell me "what did you think was going to happen, bitch?". Thankfully there's plenty of gay people who are against surrogacy, so it's not all that bad, but Jesus, this has been a disturbing experience.

all I can say is that I see a crucial distinction, and see surrogacy as no more purchasing a human being than IVF or, more disputably, paying a hospital for childbirth. We live in a world where money is inextricably tied up in even intimate human interactions, but that doesn't strip them of their humanity or their worth.

I'm not really a fan of IVF either, but even it doesn't involve taking a child away from their mother, and paying for the hospital bed is in a completely different universe.

Well, of course everybody wants that.

I feel like you're reading my comment as saying "I, uniquely, want a values-driven society, and cruel people like you prevent that."

I'm not saying that. I'm saying that the rubber meets the road with values differences at some points, and that's where the culture war becomes most complex and most serious. It goes without saying that I believe my values are correct. They are, after all, my values. Others disagree with them, and the truce of liberalism is the most stable way I've seen to deal with those clashes up to this point, but the culture war stops being an abstract chat when your decisions cross someone else's line in the sand or vice versa. I condemn or criticize some choices. Some condemn or criticize my own. I have strong feelings about who is right and who is wrong in most culture war conflicts, but the stakes are high for everybody. At some point, conflicts or no, people decide what sort of life they want to live and find allies where they can. The value I have chosen to make my own stand on here is that bringing people into the world, becoming a parent, and working to raise children well is a good that should be pursued even as circumstances fall short of the most ideal.

The resentment you describe is understandable but a bit peculiar. There was no slippery slope from gay marriage to surrogacy. Gestational surrogacy has been legal in (most of) the United States since long before gay marriage was allowed. There was no carve-out in the push for legal marriage saying "we want to have all the legal rights straight married couples do, except for the option to pursue already legal surrogacy options". Marriage and surrogacy aren't even directly connected, except for questions like who the parents listed on birth certificates are: single men can pursue surrogacy, just like single women can find sperm donors.

Not to lean too much into the villain role in your story, but... what did you think was going to happen? Did you think all gay men who wanted to get married simply saw marriage in the shallower modern "if two people love each other very much..." light and not as the best option for stable, happy family formation and child-rearing? Did you see the collection of legal rights attached to marriage, routes to adoption and surrogacy that straight couples were already using, and assume gay people were simply uninterested; were you treating the idea as primarily symbolic rather than a specific legal change that would open up specific doors for people?

There was no slippery slope from gay marriage to surrogacy. Gestational surrogacy has been legal in (most of) the United States since long before gay marriage was allowed.

So part of the misunderstanding probably comes from geographical distance. Things look a bit different worldwide, and even in places where it's currently banned, we still get the western Blob's drumbeat about wonderful surrogacy is. From that perspective, surely it's more understandable how it looks like a slippery slope.

Not to lean too much into the villain role in your story, but... what did you think was going to happen? Did you think all gay men who wanted to get married simply saw marriage in the shallower modern "if two people love each other very much..." light and not as the best option for stable, happy family formation and child-rearing?

Since you asked the question directly, I've been trying to interrogate if I'm misremembering something. Is it that I was young and kids weren't on my mind? Maybe that was a part of it, but I distinctly remember adoption by gay couples being part of the controversy, and I assumed that that was going to cover the issue of gay people who want to start a family. Especially since gay people I knew were saying adoption isn't even that important to them (they were on the younger side as well though).

I'd have a hard time looking back on marriage equality advocacy and thinking that it was intended legitimately for family benefits. But I'm open to being corrected.

Family benefits were always part of the package. Andrew Sullivan's landmark 1989 argument, to my understanding the first major advocacy article on the topic in the US, is worth reviewing:

Marriage provides an anchor, if an arbitrary and weak one, in the chaos of sex and relationships to which we are all prone. It provides a mechanism for emotional stability, economic security, and the healthy rearing of the next generation. [...] Legalizing gay marriage would offer homosexuals the same deal society now offers heterosexuals: general social approval and specific legal advantages in exchange for a deeper and harder-to-extract-yourself from commitment to another human being. Like straight marriage, it would foster social cohesion, emotional security, and economic prudence. Since there’s no reason gays should not be allowed to adopt or be foster parents, it could also help nurture children.

Andrew Sullivan, one can point out, is for a gay man unusually conservative in his sensibilities and was making an unabashedly conservative argument in favor of gay marriage. But gay marriage has always been more the purview of the more conservative-minded in the subculture.

You're right that it's comparatively uncommon for gay couples to have kids, but it's more that their kids often don't enter the sphere of Public Discourse. I didn't know Neil Patrick Harris had kids. Looking it up, I see Anderson Cooper, Dan Savage, Jared Polis, and Perez Hilton have kids as well. Dave Rubin is a new father. It's not wildly common, but it's not an anomaly.

Aye, that's the trouble with culture war spats, isn't it? None of them are abstract for everyone, and the culture war has real stakes.

Back before the SSC-Motte split happened on Reddit, among the resident disaffected leftists on SSC was some guy with an Arabic-sounding username. I forgot what it was, and he deleted the account a long time ago, or it got suspended. Anyway, one time he posted the usual and frankly boring leftist complaint of SSCer quasi-incel garbage humans tolerating the online presence of literal Nazis and even getting into discussions with them. He based his complaint on the argument that ‘if this side wins in the culture war, many of my buds will get executed as degenerate gays, so for me this all is deeply personal, I’m not just here to hang out etc.’

Needless to say, it seemingly never occurred to him (at least there was no sign of this) that if the OTHER side wins, then, according to the same logic, many people will get executed/gulaged for being landlords, venture capitalists, GOP officials, for supporting Proposition 8 or whatever it was, for opposing the toppling of Confederate monuments, for denying that gas chambers were used in Majdanek etc. It just didn’t register on his radar. Weird.

Neither IVF nor paying the hospital for delivering the baby involves paying someone else to make a baby and abandon it. Helping a woman give birth to her own child does not permanently deprive that child of their mother. Surrogacy does. Have you grappled with that?

Wait, why does surrogacy amount to depriving a child of their mother? If a hetero couple did surrogacy but raised that child as their own, there's a mother as far as the child is concerned. What exactly is the child losing if brought into the world via surrogacy that is irreplaceable?

Hetero surrogacy is just as bad. There is an important bond which is lost. A child carried in the womb for 9 months knows its mother. It already knows her voice and is familiar with her. This is not insignificant.

To go somewhat off topic for a moment: I am disgusted by the transhumanist fascination with artificial wombs for the same reason. A mother's womb is more than a growing medium. Nothing we can construct is going to be able to replicate it-- the entire thing is a wire monkey with extra steps.

A child carried in the womb for 9 months knows its mother. It already knows her voice and is familiar with her.

Gonna have to call bullshit on that one unless you have evidence. Children don't remember stuff that early, and certainly not from before they were born. To be clear, the evidence needs to be that it's typical for unborn babies to remember this stuff, not that it happened once in an exceptional case. I don't believe such evidence exists but if you have it I'll concede the point.

I wasn't talking about long term memories. There seems to be a consensus amongst experts that the fetus recognizes the mother's voice and heartbeat sounds, and recognizes her scent via exposure to amniotic fluid. This recognition continues when the baby is born, and it is believed that these familiar senses calm the newborn among other things. I'd prefer to give you links to research, but you'll have to settle for the deluge of popsci articles I can find on google, and knowing that this is what we were told by doctors as well. Here's one link [1], it's not an isolated example and there are tons more. Most of them seem to have at least some kind of citation at least. That said, expert consensus and common wisdom via experience is a kind of evidence of its own, even if there's not bulletproof research papers on the topic.

There's also evidence that skin to skin contact with their mother immediately after delivery results in lower stress, better ability to regulate body temperature, and other improved outcomes. I sincerely doubt that this suddenly stops being important after a week. This is easier to find research on, as well as a wealth of consensus online and it's standard practice in hospitals. [2]

It's also known that while obviously the mother goes through hormonal changes, even the expectant father in a pregnant couple goes through pre-partum hormonal changes that have an impact on parenting outcomes. [2] I can't find research on the topic, but it seems reasonable to assume that this is due to chemical signalling between mother and father and requires proximity, and not something that is likely to materialize spontaneously in the couple waiting to be handed a baby.

Frankly, I don't even think the burden of proof is on me. You want to deviate from a state of nature and the common wisdom, so you prove there's no harm. What do you think is more likely: the mother's womb is a sterile vessel, bonding with the mother that birthed it has absolutely no impact on life outcomes, and the hormonal changes that mothers and fathers go through are just for laughs? Or that the complex auditory, chemical, and physical signaling and bonding between newborn and mother throughout early infancy have a purpose of some kind that has a relevant impact?

[1] https://www.romper.com/parenting/how-does-a-baby-know-its-mother-it-comes-down-to-the-senses-25678

[2]