Re: What It's Like To Have Kids Is Unknowable Until You've Been There. How Does That Differ From Anything Else?

1

I was right!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 7:40 AM
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I assume that part of it is that--unlike most novel experiences--having children is supposed to change you in a way that actually changes your criteria of evaluation about what's good/bad, important/not. Having not read their paper (and only skimmed the blog post), it sounds a lot like an incommensurability argument.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 7:46 AM
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I assume that part of it is that--unlike most novel experiences--having children is supposed to change you in a way that actually changes your criteria of evaluation about what's good/bad, important/not. Having not read their paper (and only skimmed the blog post), it sounds a lot like an incommensurability argument.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 7:47 AM
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I should reread the paper with more care, but while I think that's an implied argument, I didn't see anything that would help you distinguish new experiences that make you into a different person from new experiences that don't. She goes through an example about a scientist raised in a sealed monochromatic environment who knows everything possible you could know academically about color without ever having seen the color red -- if that example is meant to be on point, it seems clearly either to be about the sort of experience that doesn't make you into a different person, or to say that any new experience does make you into a different person.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 7:50 AM
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Is it really that different from trying to decide if you want dessert before you've eaten the appetizer and main course?

I know I'm a very different person when I'm hungry than I am after I've just eaten.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 7:50 AM
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1: no you weren't! I'd skimmed the paper before, but I didn't want to post until I'd actually read it and could say something more or less thoughtful about its contents. I didn't do that last night because I didn't get home from work until late, and then I was preoccupied with an unrelated problem. I was not deliberately temporizing.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 7:53 AM
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Haven't read the paper and don't intend to, but this reminds me of a column that Ellen Goodman wrote many, many years ago. She was discussing a particular writer's discussion of the considerations involved in making a rational decision to have a child.

If someone took those considerations seriously, she said, nobody would ever have a child.

Goodman's ultimate point was that having a child isn't a rational decision in the sense that the author was talking about. The decision to have children is all about desire. I think that's right.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 7:54 AM
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Imagine a young lady who ends up bringing up a younger sibling from shortly after birth due to the death of the parents. How can one say she doesn't have the information needed to make a rational choice? The only difference is that she hasn't actually squeezed the little bugger out.

The argument strikes me as both stupid and condescending in a particularly irritating way.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 7:56 AM
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6: You couldn't let peep have a little victory, could you? No, I suppose you couldn't. That was my point after all.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 7:56 AM
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The whole CT conversation has made me think a lot about how my experiences keep me out of step with people who have children biologically. For me at least, I think the idea of being open to having a child is different from the decision to parent a specific child with a history and experiences and all of that and it's so hard to try to figure out how to make an appropriate decision. (It doesn't help that we get calls like one Lee got the other day where the person asking if we'd take the kids didn't know their names and "knew one was 2 and the other was either older or younger." Obviously we declined.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 7:57 AM
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Does having children change people so dramatically they become more willing to spend time wading through this kind of philosophy paper in search of interesting content?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 7:58 AM
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Well, the thrust of this OP is slightly different than the one that I will argue against, which is that sure, parenting is transformative. But not surprisingly transformative. Predictably transformative. I bet all commenters who are about to (or recently) became parents have a very clear, accurate idea of how their life will be transformed.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:00 AM
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I was musing last night that my belief that parenting isn't magically transformative might be connected to my belief that life isn't meaningful and that's fine.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:01 AM
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Imagine a young lady who ends up bringing up a younger sibling from shortly after birth due to the death of the parents. How can one say she doesn't have the information needed to make a rational choice?

This is an excellent example, but I think it actually reinforces the point that most people can't make a rational decision here. Normal decision making is made by analogy, but for most people there are very few good analogies to being a parent. It isn't really that much like taking care of a dog. In fact, the only good analogy I can think of is the one you name, an older sibling forced to provide almost all the care for a younger sibling.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:04 AM
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Haven't read the paper yet and only skimmed the CT thread, but this seems to me like a better argument against any kind of model that assumes rational actors than against parenting. Parenting is almost manifestly irrational, and everyone believes that parenting even changes who you are (not quite everyone, but let's go with it for now) in ways that affect your priorities unknowably. The Econ 101 understanding of rationality is disproved by the fact that parents exist. (But then, the transformative nature of parenting isn't the only thing about it that does so, either.)


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:07 AM
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The Econ 101 understanding of rationality is disproved by everything everywhere at all times. That doesn't necessarily hurt its value as a model for economic forecasting (doesn't necessarily, but does actually) but of course it's not a valid description of individual behavior in general. I wouldn't think that Professor Paul was arguing from that definition of rationality, though?

That said, if she's not arguing from that definition of rationality I don't know with any precision what definition of rationality she is using which (along with not having read the paper or the entire CT post) makes it difficult for me to evaluate her argument.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:14 AM
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I agree with 12. But the degreee to which someone is going to be surprised by anything is going to depend on how thoughtful they are. And, I guess, what they spend that time thinking about. Parenthood (the ordinary way) has a long lead time, during which expectant parents are inundated with information: being surprised by anything would require a particular temperament, I'd like.

One of my son's DC friends had a transformative experience climbing a mountain with us on a summer visit. Really. It was wild, no one expected it, and now, more than 2 years later, he's still talking about it.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:16 AM
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think!


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:17 AM
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It does seem to me that the conclusion on p. 14, that "your choice in Scenario is neither theoretically nor practically rational in the intended sense.", crucially depends on an additional premise not in the description of Scenario on p. 1, but which is only mentioned in passing on p. 13: "The way the story is supposed to go, consistent with our cultural norms, is that when you sit down and think about whether you want to start a family, you contemplate the value of the results of your choice, evaluating the costs and benefits to you and your partner if you have your own child versus the costs and benefits to you and your partner if you remain childless."

Actually even that isn't sufficient, AFAICT, to generate the conclusion, you also need the assertion later on p. 14 that "we want to use information about our future phenomenological states about what it would be like to have one's own child to make the choice". (This is actually substantially clearer in CT post, I now see.) But nothing in the original statement of the scenario says that that has to enter into our deliberations at all. Even reference to the value of the results of the choice doesn't guarantee that we're assessing value based on our future emotional, etc., states; one could think that it just is valuable to have children of one's own. (I think my mother thinks something like this.) Or one could base one's decision purely on one's present desires. (Couldn't one? It seems to me that many decisions to do something that take the form "it'll be fun to try something new", where we don't really know what it will be like to experience the new thing (and perhaps it's new enough, or taste-dependent enough, or unknown to those we know enough, that we can't even form minimal hypotheses about what it will be like for us) are like that. One makes such a decision aware that, when actually trying the thing, it may not be fun at all.) Neither of those possibilities seems to be on the level of wanting to have a child just to pass on DNA* or wanting not to have a child because of overpopulation concerns, both of which are pretty impersonal and, in the former case, downright bizarre.

* which anyway could be done by donating sperm/eggs.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:18 AM
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Which is to say, I could imagine a relatively mathy definition of rational decision making which is "choosing the optimal path based on the expected value (across all definitions of value) of future choices", under which definition it would be impossible to make a rational choice if it was impossible to make a meaningful estimate of the value of some future event if, I guess, the distribution of possible values you predict for that event was described by a distribution without a useful mean. But I don't think that's quite what she means.

Likewise, I could imagine a definition of rational decision making where you were judged to be rational if you acted according to the best possible estimates of the future value (across all definitions of value) of a given action or set of actions, but in that case no decisions would ever be rational, so that's probably not it either.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:20 AM
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I thought that the best point in the CT thread was made by ... Ogged(!), who pointed out that's what's actually unique in the case of having children is not so much the fact that the future is unknowable but that you've entered into both an unknowable future and an almost completely unbreakable* commitment. The former is pretty common (what will college be like? Will it transform me), but we deal with that by assuming** that commitments can be modified if need be. What's unique about parenting -- at least for the modern, educated affluent, WEIRD types the CT post refers to -- is that you've got an inherently very unpredictable future state combined with a uniquely unbreakable commitment.***

*I bet Thorn has interesting things to say about this.
**Although this assumption is often not correct.
***And this is actually recognized by the law -- you can divorce out of a marriage, you can default on a contract, but once that kid shows up you have an obligation of support that is nonwaivable and inescapable.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:25 AM
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re: 4

The only-monochrome-life-experienced colour scientist example is a fairly standard one in the philosophical literature on qualia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualia#The_knowledge_argument

It doesn't amount to much more than 'there's some different about having an experience, that isn't captured by any means other than the having of that very experience (or a relevantly similar one).'

I don't see how it's relevant much in this case. Unless you buy the idea that parenting is a unique experience that one can't capture in other ways. Yet, most of us know familial love, the experience of intimacy, the feeling of being needed or depended upon, sleeplessness, stress, or whatever. So I'm not really buying, 'this is an experience the likes of which you can't anticipate'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:25 AM
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Getting hooked on crystal meth is a transformative experience, which you can't really understand until you've done it. And, like having a kid, meth will keep you up all night, drain your resources, and is a commitment that lasts for years.

That still doesn't mean people can't look at it from the outside and rationally judge for themselves "hmmmm..... maybe that's not for me."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:27 AM
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21 makes an excellent point.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:27 AM
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Also the whole premise of rationality is so stupid. I bet most parents here thought something like "On the con side, kids are expensive and tiring. On the pro side, I really want one/the experience/cute photos." Then you just pick.

You're choosing to do something irrational, because being rational isn't the biggest gold medal prize in the universe.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:29 AM
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I guess I should have read all the way to page 15 in the paper before posting the above.

On the 15 tip and continuing the thought (if there is a thought!) of 19, if we defer to the claim that "the value of having your child, at least as it is standardly understood, depends on what it is like for you to have her" and to the implicit claim that the person reflecting on whether ot have a child also partakes of the standard understanding, then a whole lot more seems to come into the argument's scope. E.g., can I, someone who has never heard any opera or much classical music at all, rationally choose to attend a performance of Das Rheingold? Let us suppose that I believe people who tell me it's different in the opera house and I shouldn't bother making my decision on the basis of a prior listen to CDs. "I'll try it, because I might like it" apparently isn't good enough, so can I just not rationally choose to attendance or nonattendance at all? (Having now made it to p 17, yes, this does fall under the argument, just as does—the example of p 17—trying Vegemite.)

("try it, you might like it" and "I'll try it, because I might like it" are of course extremely frivolous as advice/decisionmaking principles when it comes to having a child, because you can't leave at the first intermission if you decide it's not for you. But the seriousness of the undertaking doesnt seem to play a role in the argument—pace ogged's comment in the CT thread about the commitment entailed by having a child. REGARDING WHICH I was amused, at a conference-like event I recently attended, to hear one of the participants suggest that the most a Rortyan liberal ironist could be able to make of a marriage would be something like "I love you lots (at the moment) and isn't this a nice ceremony, honey?".)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:29 AM
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I've read only a draft of the paper, but as I recall the argument was roughly:
1) The decision to have a child (in UMC Western cultures) or to refrain from having a child is often thought to be a decision that is made rationally. (Considerations: is this a good time? are we financially secure? are we likely to be good parents? have we had a golden retriever for two years first so we can prove that we can love something annoying? have we traveled everywhere we wanted to travel?, am I established in my career?, this is not a good time for a baby so I should have an abortion, etc.) I'd add that it's thought to be a rational decision to the point that someone who chooses a "bad" time to have a baby, or who chooses not to have a baby, is probably in for some criticism.
2) Having a child is thought by the same group to be transformative. (Witness every conversation where someone says "you'll understand when you're a mother/father" or "it wasn't really transformative, because I totally worked it out in therapy for two years first." [sorry heebie, just teasing. couldn't resist.]) No one says this about sushi, though it may apply to other transformative decisions. Someone who brought up a younger sibling has already had the experience, though not the choice, so they are in a position to know.
3) If it is truly transformative, then one does not have any kind of reliable evidence from introspection about what life will be like after having children. (This is the point of the scientist example.)
4 or maybe 3b) Other people's experiences are not good sources of testimony. (If they've been transformed, we won't understand their reasons from a pre-transformed state; also, people who thought they never wanted kids often are very happy as parents, and we have evidence that shows that while people say they are happy having had children, they're less happy than non-child-having people. And it's not socially acceptable to say "I'd have been better off without having a kid.")
5) So, we wind up in a Pascal's wager sort of state, leap of faith, all that.

Note: this applies to the rational decision not to have children, too.

4) I think is the point that needs the most defense. I suspect we're in a better position that Paul might think -- but I haven't read the most recent version. It seems like a decent way to reason to say something like "I don't know, but other people who are very similar to me in terms of goals and life stage seem to have made it work." But I need to think about this more and re-read the paper.



Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:30 AM
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I bet most parents here thought something like "On the con side, kids are expensive and tiring. On the pro side, I really want one/the experience/cute photos." Then you just pick.

If the point is that you have to pick, then that shouldn't be a problem for Paul. Indeed, those who just picked should congratulate themselves on avoiding a pretense of rationality that wouldn't have gotten them anything anyway.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:32 AM
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On the other hand, I can see being surprised by transformations that come up as you go on. Infants and toddlers present logistical issues, and obviously there's the emotional bonds (which is what I think most people are talking about when they are predicting surprising transformation -- you'll be surprised how deeply you feel). But then when your kid gets old enough to become a Hare Krishna, and you find your attitudes indifference to religion challenged. Or, I guess, also classically, is 14 and brings home a 15 year old boyfriend, and you find yourself playing on the other team with respect to sexual freedom. You find your 10 year old surfing pr)n sites on the internet, etc.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:32 AM
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Predictably transformative. I bet all commenters who are about to (or recently) became parents have a very clear, accurate idea of how their life will be transformed

Right. Bc your children will be exactly how you expected them to be?

I hope you were being sarcastic. I've been unable to work much this week. I did not predict that prior to having children.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:32 AM
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Ugh I hate qualia.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:36 AM
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(4) seems reasonably solid to me, actually.

I wonder what Paul would make of the decision not to have children on the grounds that experiences that are so deeply transformative smack of … objectionable irrationality! ("Try it, you might find yourself really liking children." "But I don't want to really like children, or even just my child, for hormonal reasons! I want to be convinced of their or its merit by argument!") Imagine as a parallel the sort of misologist who thinks that it's really much nicer to be kind of stupid because you aren't, then, plagued by philosophy, but would also object to becoming stupid because, even though once there s/he would have no objection to being in that state, at present s/he does object to moving into that state by rationally disreputable means.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:36 AM
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Right. Bc your children will be exactly how you expected them to be?

Because the pre-parents here think they ought to have concrete expectations about their kids? I'm not guaranteed a healthy 10 year old just because I have a healthy 3 year old.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:39 AM
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So, no, I wasn't being sarcastic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:40 AM
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I wouldn't be so quick to give up on rationality. In our case, I weighed having a kid versus the likely damage to my career, and decided a) I've given enough to this godforsaken discipline and b) also, it's 2013 everyone can get on board with female philosophers having babies already, so c) fuck it. We didn't start trying when I was ABD or VAPing because the instability didn't make it smart.

But beyond that, it's also true that a lot of people I know are comfortable with saying:
a) this is NOT a good time for us to have a kid.
b) this is NOT a good time for me to have a kid, and so I'm having an abortion.

and I at least really don't want to say "Oh, they're just being irrational about their preferences, I'm sure they'll change their minds once they see the sweet little baby."


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:40 AM
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Anyway, I think the paper shouldn't be thought of as an argument that standard decision-theoretic procedures can't help one decide whether or not to become a parent, given certain norms about what is relevant to that decision, but rather that those norms are fantastic (in the derogatory sense), i.e. as a paper focused on the thing that (oddly) doesn't appear in Cala's reconstruction, the importance of one's subjective experiences once the kid is had to one's deliberation prior to having the kid. (The sorts of things in her (1), about one's position in one's career, e.g., are, of course, knowable, or, if not knowable, not relevantly not knowable.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:40 AM
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This thread is just Ogged bait, isn't it? Don't immanentize the eschaton.
Somewhat related to rational child rearing decisions, someone posted this on my FB feed this morning.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:41 AM
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True. The decision to have a kid is not necessarily the opposite of the decision not to have a kid.

(Also, can't it just be an ambiguous mushpot? Philosophers, feh.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:41 AM
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35.1: You decided to get a PHD in philosophy? How can you even presume to talk about rationality?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:43 AM
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30 -- Obviously.

21 -- Right. This is why rationality is just right out the window. It's kind of like trying to use math to figure out the likelihood of life on other planets. The uncertainties loom so large that the calculations become completely meaningless.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:43 AM
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What Is it Like to Be a Parent?


Posted by: Thomas Nagel | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:44 AM
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21 and 26 hit the nail on the head. The almost completely irreversible nature of the commitment you make by having kids is what makes it different from other potentially "transformative" experiences.

Skydiving may be a transformative experience, but if you decide you don't like it you don't have to keep on jumping out of planes every day for 20 years.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:46 AM
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26: E.g., can I, someone who has never heard any opera or much classical music at all, rationally choose to attend a performance of Das Rheingold? [...] you can't leave at the first intermission if you decide it's not for you.

Joke's on you, Nosflow, Rheingold doesn't have an intermission. You'll stay till the end and like it.


Posted by: A lurker, being unhelpful | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:46 AM
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Because the pre-parents here think they ought to have concrete expectations about their kids?

I wonder how many pre-parents have conrete expectations that their children are going to be gay or disabled (or religious!). I doubt very many.

I do not believe that many pre-parents have a very clear and accurate idea.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:46 AM
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As CC said,

But the degreee to which someone is going to be surprised by anything is going to depend on how thoughtful they are. And, I guess, what they spend that time thinking about.

Also, to paraphrase the other stuff he said: parenthood lasts a long time. Birth is momentous, but it's not necessarily the big giant moment of transformation. Life unfolds unpredictably, but maybe Year 4 of your kid's life is transformative - and maybe Year 4 post-abortion is transformative. Life just unfolds.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:49 AM
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31: Ugh I hate qualia.

I think I hate your hate, but I'm not really sure I understand what you meant when you said that.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:49 AM
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43: Actually I'm nearly positive I would not like it, but only because of having attended a different part of the Ring cycle.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:50 AM
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Anybody else notice that I'd make a super terrible philosopher?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:50 AM
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48: Or the best one!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:51 AM
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46: I find "qualia" as a philosophical concept irritating in that they are used to muddy debates about consciousness that I find not all that muddy. Note that I cannot rigorously back up the previous statement.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:54 AM
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Lock the qualia in the chinese room and set it on fire, I say.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:54 AM
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As per my 22 above, I'm not sure I completely buy that parenting is such a unique experience that we don't have a bunch of prior experiences that we might draw on to make our decisions.* It may be uniquely transformative, but I'm not sure it's such that one can't engage in any kind of thought about what it might be like.

*Not that I/we went into any kind of rational decision making process at all.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:55 AM
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The other thing I keep forgetting to say is that simulation is really only a small part of the decision-making process for anything, and to hinge rationality on the realism of simulation seems to not have that much to do with how people usually decide things.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:56 AM
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22: I had seen the monochrome-environment scientist example before -- I was bringing it up to say that I don't think the argument in the paper can depend on anything uniquely transformative about having children. Seeing red (or eating Marmite, another example in the paper) doesn't seem to me to be that sort of transformative experience except in that it changes you from someone who hasn't seen red to someone who has. Pretty much any sort of new experience is transformative in that sense.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:00 AM
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50: I was not attempting to play a constructive role in the discussion. Or at least not a directly constructive role.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:02 AM
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47: I didn't mean you would like it. I meant you would like it in the same sense that you are going to eat that spinach and like it. Finish your spinach, Nosflow.


Posted by: A lurker, still being quite unhelpful | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:03 AM
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56: I know that!

Note that I cannot rigorously back up the previous statement.

You can't rigorously back up your own claim that you don't find certain debates muddy? You think that, in fact, you might find them muddy?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:05 AM
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36: Those things are knowable, but what isn't knowable is how to weigh them against the utility of having a kid (because that isn't known.)

39: Oh, aren't you cute.

45:There's a difference between saying "I know exactly what having a child is like" and saying "I am confident that I am the sort of adaptable person who will manage to cope with having a child."


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:05 AM
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21.*** If both you and the child's other parent want to default on your commitment to parenting, you are able to abandon your child to state care and after 15 months of paying child support to the state while not making any effort to regain custody, they'll terminate your parental rights, after which they can't bill you anymore. IME, it's neither awesome for the child nor for the parent, but it is an option.

I don't know if the things I have to say are interesting. We got a little reprieve on having to decide whether we're going to adopt Nia, though there's basically no hope her mom can keep delaying past April unless she changes in a ton of ways she hasn't been able to in the last 11 months. Lee and Nia get on each other's nerves and Lee doesn't have the same bond with Nia she has with Mara. Honestly, I don't either because that's just the difference between a child who's been with you 2+ years and whom you taught to talk and one who's been with you 8 months and still says "care-ons" for "crayons" no matter how much I model alternatives.

I am way too much of an introvert to give Nia the kind of social life she desires and I'm just never going to be able to do that, though at some point when she's a little older and not in foster care she'll be free to just go out and play. Mara and Nia adore each other and I have a hard time imagining how difficult it would be for both of them if they had to split up, though I think it would be easier on all of us if it were because Nia went to someone in her family and outrageously hard for at least Mara and me if she went to another foster home to be adopted there.

With Mara, it was pretty clear that we were a really awesome fit for her. With Nia, we are a great fit in some ways and a more awkward one in others. But I've seen her grow so much these past months and I love her so deeply and know it would hurt me terribly to have to say goodbye to her. And yet if a magical relative showed up who could give her some of the things that are hard for me or for Lee and who was literate and loving, I think I'd feel a little relief at that along with my sadness because I do feel bad about the ways I'm not as good as I could be for her and for Mara, but more for Nia because Mara's stuck with me and my inadequacies.

Anyway, breakable commitments are not necessarily easy or unproblematic, or at least not for us.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:05 AM
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Those things are knowable, but what isn't knowable is how to weigh them against the utility of having a kid (because that isn't known.)

Yes, but that's what I'm saying; the idea that we should weigh the utility of having a kid at all is presupposed. (Or relegated to "standard understanding" status.)

Someone—for example—who all h/h life long has known that s/h will or wants to have a child—like someone who all h/h life long has known that s/h will or wants to have a fairy-tale wedding—isn't making that kind of weighing at all.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:07 AM
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54: VEGEMITE! Lewis was Australian!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:08 AM
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The qualia links are interesting. I was underwhelmed by Nagel's bat essay, but hard-pressed to say exactly why, nice to have a way to follow up.

Aside from irreversibility, kids are dependent on parents, less self-sufficient than pets for the first few years. After that, the kids pay attention to what you do. Since it's easy to lead a basically isolated life in a usually apathetic world, that attention is a big change. Possibly for people embedded in a caring or rigorous environment (that is, big happy families or the military), the new attention is no big deal.

But to the extent that we're discussing parenthood in particular rather than experience in general, IME those two aspects were particular properties that distinguish parenting from say a career change or a new and dangerous sport.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:08 AM
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I think the folk surprise transformation is bullshit, yes. But, really, heebie, you can't claim to be unsurprised by transformations that have not yet taken place. Life is uncertain, and you can certainly know that. What you can't know is how big ticket uncertainties are going to affect you when they play out.

I'm not going to read the paper or the CT thread. But really now, while it's perfectly normal, I'm sure, for people to decide that this isn't the right time to have a child, there's little rational process that would result in the conclusion that any given time is the right time. No one can know enough about the future. What happens nearly all the time, I'd guess, is people deciding that there isn't a 'known known,' and going 'fuck it, let's just go for it.'


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:09 AM
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57.last: an apt summation, yes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:09 AM
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61: Whatever. Strange brown pastes. I've never actually tried any of them. I suppose if I wanted to become a fundamentally different person I could.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:11 AM
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I think I don't really find "rationality" a terribly useful framework for talking about human decision-making. Either it's ill-defined, or it's defined so precisely that I don't quite know what it means, or it is defined sufficiently generally that it's never true of actual decision making.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:11 AM
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45:There's a difference between saying "I know exactly what having a child is like" and saying "I am confident that I am the sort of adaptable person who will manage to cope with having a child."

So—again—why should the former, rather than the latter, be what gets deliberative play? If I'm held back from wanting children of my own, despite quite enjoying the company of the many young children I've spent time with, it's because I'm far from certain that I'd cope well with having one that's, you know, mine, from whom I can't excuse myself, whose very excreta I have to clean up, etc. (I might, on the other hand, have gotten such confidence had I, like ttaM, had to deal with the day-to-day of childrearing when I was a teen. I would, in that case, know more or less what it all involves.) I'm also far from certain exactly what having a child is like, but I'm not sure why that uncertainty should play a role.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:12 AM
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66: I agree with this completely.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:14 AM
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it's defined so precisely that I don't quite know what it means

The possibility of giving something so precise a definition that another doesn't know what it is is one that should be kept in mind!! This comment is not facetious!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:14 AM
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69: well I mean I didn't say it was not a useful framework for discussing human decision making. I said it wasn't a useful framework for me. There are many terms that, used technically and precisely, can be illuminating, but which are generally not used in that manner are not illuminating. Insofar as the same precise, technical meaning is understood by all of the people using the term, then, it is useful. I do not find that to often be the case for the term "rationality" or, at least, insofar as it is the case I am not within the cohort that has ready access to that specific shared, precise and technical definition.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:18 AM
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I said I wasn't being facetious!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:18 AM
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re: 67

I'm fairly confident I know what the practical experience is going to be like, and how I will or won't cope with certain things. But, at the end of the day, as per Ogged's point at CT and Halford in 21 (among others), I had an out. I wasn't his parent, and I could (and did) go and do something else. And even when I was caring for him, it was a few hours at a time (often), with longer periods (whole days or nights) intermittently (one or two days a week at most). It wasn't 24 hours a day, seven days a week, forever. So I have no experience of that kind of commitment.

Knowing what it's like spending time with a small baby/toddler caring for them? Yes. Knowing what it's like spending forever as a parent and caring for them all the time. No.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:21 AM
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Facetiousness is a tricky framework for evaluating comments.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:21 AM
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And, while I can't think of an example offhand, I think very precise definitions like that often tempt the users to shift thoughtlessly back and forth between the technical sense and the folk sense of the word: proving something is true of the technical sense and then applying it to the natural language sense.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:23 AM
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This article makes in some ways (in the ways that are interesting to ME) for a nice counterpoint to part of the paper Knowing What One Wants, by [a member of my committee]. Before I left UCSB I was working on a paper that I privately thought of as my anti-[said member] paper, but all of the part that I actually wrote was actually devoted to working out a basically minor point of disagreement with [someone completely different].


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:30 AM
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There's a difference between saying "I know exactly what having a child is like" and saying "I am confident that I am the sort of adaptable person who will manage to cope with having a child."

I agree with this entirely. And I'd say that thoughtful, well-informed people are only ever saying the latter. But then you have the kid, and you're still only saying the latter. Nothing has been transformed - it's still the best you can say.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:34 AM
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I like the bagel chips best in Gardetto's but can't quite bring myself to buy the bags that are pure, unadulterated bagel chips. Take that, economics!

The thing that's weird about these discussions if you have never in your life considered having kids is the seeming assumption that whether or not to have kids is the central decision in everyone's life. I don't know if this paper carries this assumption. I didn't read it.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:36 AM
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Rheingold is the shortest but most tedious Ring opera.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:46 AM
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I think the folk surprise transformation is bullshit, yes. But, really, heebie, you can't claim to be unsurprised by transformations that have not yet taken place. Life is uncertain, and you can certainly know that. What you can't know is how big ticket uncertainties are going to affect you when they play out.

Mostly it's the folk transformation that irritates me, yes. So we're on the same page.

I'm as unequipped for the next five years as I was for the past five, though. (Which is to say, well-equipped for somethings and not for others.) Being a magical-unicorn-parent! isn't protective. Life still unfolds, same as it does for people without kids.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:49 AM
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is the seeming assumption that whether or not to have kids is the central decision in everyone's life.

Well, it's both a very common decision (that is, more people than not have kids, and way, way, way more people than not at least seriously consider having kids) and a very unusually irrevocably life-transforming one, for all of the reasons giving above. So any discussion about irrevocably life-transforming decisions, it's the obvious one to go for.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:50 AM
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70, 74: Yes, the term "rationality" has been rat-fucked out of usefulness for most anything else by its use in microeconomics and game theory (see the centipede game discussion thread). A nomenclature fiasco of the first magnitude.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:55 AM
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My impression from most of the committed straight couples I know is that the breeders who view reproduction as a decision to be made (with all the rational weighing of pros and cons) end up NOT having kids. The couples who reproduce don't actually make a decision, they just act on the assumption that they'll have kids because that's what people do.


Posted by: good enough cook | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:56 AM
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Somewhat related, is it not in fact extremely dickish to express official interest in adopting a child without having consulted one's partner in the slightest? At the level of the stadium marriage proposal? The rest of the story is nice, of course, as witnessed by its sharing far and wide.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:57 AM
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80: I think there's a heternormative aspect too (duh, Sifu) in that people who have spent their entire sexual lives contemplating how to avoid a particular irrevocably life-altering outcome have therefore, you know, thought about it a lot.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:58 AM
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37 is 83's baby daddy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:59 AM
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37. That link. I cried.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:59 AM
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83: I'd vote yes and no, and I do see committing to a child as different from committing to a marriage. I do know people who've taken on children, often as in the "older sibling raising orphaned younger sibling" hypothetical above, when their partners didn't want to but they felt their commitment to the children outweighed that, which generally has had pretty negative outcomes for the relationship but only sometimes for the child. If what he was saying was "I'm ready to adopt this child and I'll do it whether it costs me my relationship or not," then I guess he didn't have to get buy-in ahead of time.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 10:06 AM
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Also, sometimes spouses come with kids.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 10:08 AM
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Apropos to nothing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 10:14 AM
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83. Yes, dickish. It would have been possible to say, "As far as I'm concerned, very much yes, but I haven't yet discussed this with my partner. Can I get back to you?"


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 10:14 AM
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I cut people slack for their responses when surprised -- if he hadn't been expecting the question, responding with a yes before he thought about the other stakeholders seems very forgivable. (And even if he were a little more coldblooded about it -- springing the question on him like that was a nutty thing of the judge to do. If I were him, and wanted the baby, I would be worried that a nutty judge would respond to even sane caution by snatching the opportunity back: that anything less than an absolutely affirmative response would lose the kid.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 10:19 AM
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I cut people slack when their responses make for a really cinematic moment.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 10:20 AM
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91: The judge should have been smacked silly, of course, for doing it in public. Bad judge.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 10:25 AM
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I mean, it's not like the judge said "no takebacks".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 10:25 AM
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That's true, it was spur-of-the-moment; also, he could have been thinking of "interested" in the sense of wanting to have the opportunity and start thinking about it. And it's not like all the regular procedures to let people start by fostering and have time to change their minds were bypassed.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 10:26 AM
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90: There's also always the worry that once you say "partner" they're going to snatch the appealing baby away from you. I'm not thinking of any specifics here, but I know there have been times I didn't elaborate with someone in a position of power because I didn't want to have to deal with the potential for bigotry if I thought I could work around it successfully. Plus, obviously the judge was being outrageously weird.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 10:30 AM
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I am confident that I am the sort of adaptable person who will manage to cope with having a child.

Perhaps there are people who think it through. After having a first child with special needs, we did a bunch of testing to gather as much information as possible about whether a second child would have special needs. We ruled out some genetic issues as being unlikely, but, in the end, we had to roll the dice and just hope that child number 2 was not going to be disabled.

It was somewhat terrifying.

Most parents adapt to the circumstances thrown at them. But you sure dont jump into it with a full appreciation of it.

I love my daughter dearly. But, I would not recommend coming into her life as a step-mom or even a step-dad. Run away.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 12:03 PM
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Perhaps an appropriate article:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/09/not-wanting-kids-is-entirely-normal/262367/


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 12:05 PM
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I dunno, Thomas Jefferson and I decided to pursue IVF after we found out that he's infertile without serious assistance. We thought very hard about not having kids, but the idea just made us both really sad (depressing drunken nights watching West Wing sad).

And yet I am utterly enraged and unprepared for the possibility of twins after the damn doctor put in two embryos instead of one. To the point of seriously contemplating abortion.

I know I can do one. I know that that one has a good shot of having autism, Asperger's, schizophrenia, and almost a certainty of ADHD.

Two? In NYC? No.


Posted by: Sally Hemings | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 1:37 PM
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Wow. He implanted two embryos after being specifically instructed to just do one? I'd be livid.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 1:39 PM
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99, 100: Yes, that's a colossal violation of what I hope would be IVF-related rules of informed consent, etc.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 1:41 PM
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I said "One. Implant one."

Apparently the paperwork said two (after I said one), and part of the procedure is to sign it before they insert. However, they also make you drink a ton of water until you're out of your mind with needing to pee.

They gave me the paperwork at THAT point.


Posted by: Sally Hemings | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 1:43 PM
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Your lawsuit could go to the Supreme Court!*

*In NYC, I guess it would automatically. Your lawsuit could go to the Court of Appeal!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 1:46 PM
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Wow. I'd be fucking furious. I'm super curious about what you decide to do. How far along are you?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 1:57 PM
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Christ, that's appalling. Is it possible to reduce to one, or does that jeopardize the remaining one's viability more than you're comfortable with?


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 2:08 PM
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I'm 8 weeks along today. At the ultrasound nine days ago, we found out that a) they inserted two, and b) only one has a heartbeat.

So. I don't know. Maybe it'll work out? I spent the next two days traumatized and crying and raging--not just over the two vs one, but also the fact that he chose to talk about selective reduction during my transvaginal ultrasound. Also, apparently twins are great!, according to said doc, and it's industry standard to implant two!

And then we got notice of a $5K tax bill and that my father in law had a malignant cancer removed. At this point, I'm surprised I'm able to form complete sentences.


Posted by: Sally Hemings | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 2:19 PM
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I'm 8 weeks along today. At the ultrasound nine days ago, we found out that a) they inserted two, and b) only one has a heartbeat.

So. I don't know. Maybe it'll work out? I spent the next two days traumatized and crying and raging--not just over the two vs one, but also the fact that he chose to talk about selective reduction during my transvaginal ultrasound. Also, apparently twins are great!, according to said doc, and it's industry standard to implant two!

And then we got notice of a $5K tax bill and that my father in law had a malignant cancer removed. At this point, I'm surprised I'm able to form complete sentences.


Posted by: Sally Hemings | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 2:19 PM
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Dammit.

It will probably jeopardize the other one, and also it makes me squeamish to think about. Doesn't mean I won't do it.


Posted by: Sally Hemings | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 2:21 PM
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Good lord, what a series of events. So you're in the hold-your-breath stage, to see if the situation resolves itself without interference.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 2:22 PM
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Wow. Time to change doctors with extreme prejudice.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 2:23 PM
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97: No doubt.

Sally, that's really awful and completely unacceptable.

108,109: I think it's reasonably common for such situations to resolve themselves. But I'd find a new doctor first. Christ. How horrible.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 2:32 PM
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I'm a bit late to this... but I've found the discussion very interesting. Thanks! Anyway, to respond to the OP, I want to make a sharp distinction between new experiences that are similar to previous experiences in ways that the experiencer can know or predict, and transformatively new experiences. For example, most philosophers agree that, if you've never seen color, you can't know what it's like to see red before you've ever seen it. And this is true even if people try to explain what it's like to you (before you've seen it). When you see color for the first time, it is a transformatively new experience in the sense I intend to be focusing on.

If what it's like to have one's first child is similarly transformative (and I think it is), then choosing to have a child based on what you think it will be like for you is a decision based on a leap of faith, not an informed decision (not even just an imperfectly informed one). That's OK with me--my point is that we should recognize the decision as a leap of faith.

At the end of the paper, I discuss how this point should apply to some other experiences, such as the experience of hearing for the first time after one has had a cochlear implant. I think, in general, we underestimate how hard it is to know what it will be like for us (phenomenologically speaking) after we undergo some intense and far-reaching truly new experience.


Posted by: L. A. Paul | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 3:03 PM
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That sounds horrible, Sally. I hope the doctor gets their arse kicked (legally/ethically/whatever).

---

Our own tale of woe:

J' and I have been planning to have the birth in the midwife led birthing centre. Which seems great. After visiting last night we discovered that the last midwife we saw for a routine antenatal, as well as being rude and incomprehensible, didn't fill in a bunch of paperwork. They told us we could ring today and sort it out. But it turns out she didn't fill in the paperwork that gets J' signed off as a birth centre candidate. So we can't get referred to the birthing centre until an obstetrician signs off on it because of a minor medical condition that the obstetricians have already indicated in consultations won't be an issue. But without the paperwork formally reviewed and signed off in person by a consultant, no birthing centre. The earliest they can get us in to see the obstetrician is end of next week. Which is basically about 2 days before the due date. So if J' goes into labour before then, it's off to the medical ward for us. No nice birthing centre, you must lie down and wear a monitor, no water birth, no husband staying overnight.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 3:10 PM
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similar to previous experiences in ways that the experiencer can know or predict, and transformatively new experiences.

That's interesting. I'm not sure I understand the opposition there -- that is, it seems to me that a new experience might be completely dissimilar to anything ever experienced before (while I've never tried it, I've heard that Vegemite falls into that category), but not transformative (in that I'd expect myself to be pretty much the same person after trying some). Without thinking about it too hard, I'd think of 'seeing red' as being like Vegemite in that regard -- that the monochromatic scientist wouldn't be a different person after seeing red in any regard other than having had that particular experience.

What do you think of as making an experience transformative? Just dissimilarity from prior experience, or is there something more to it than that?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 3:15 PM
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114 to 112, and man, that stinks to 113. Have you exhausted the possibilities of whining to sympathetic office staff to speed it up?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 3:17 PM
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And a first baby is likely to come late than early, so even if not, good chance next week will be in time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 3:23 PM
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I was thinking of epistemically transformative experiences, where you have an experience with a genuinely new phenomenal "feel." But discussion with others, like Eric Schliesser over at NewApps, suggests that there's a related notion of a kind of transformation of the self that might also happen in some cases and would also be relevant. (A kind of transformation where one becomes a new kind of person, or has a new personal point of view.)


Posted by: L. A. Paul | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 3:32 PM
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PS: "new" implying, for me, radical dissimilarity, a true break from the past.


Posted by: L. A. Paul | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 3:33 PM
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112: both the color example and the cochlear implant example are primarily perceptual, though; insofar as a transformative experience involves novel perceptual modalities I don't know if I'd have any easy time arguing that you could simulate that. But while parenthood and child-rearing is no doubt transformative, it seems at first blush more amenable to simulation, because the components of the phenomenal experience are familiar, if not in their combination and intensity, at least in their approximate form (I have been extremely tired; I have been in situations of extreme emotional stress; I have had responsibility for people with no ability to control themselves; I have felt deep emotional bonds; etc.). So insofar as simulation is necessary for the effective evaluation of future states (which, maybe? I don't know that I have a dog in that fight) it seems like it's going to be possible with child-rearing in a way that it is not with a cochlear implant, even if the experience is as manifestly different from childlessness as hearing is from deafness. Note that none of the preceding particularly requires that any of the experiences be remotely similar to having a child, only that they have occured somewhere along roughly the same vectors of perceptual or emotional salience.

A point no doubt nimbly dealt with in the paper, but anyhow here we all are.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 3:46 PM
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re: 115

Yeah. The consultant who has to sign off [who specialises in a particularly family of conditions] only runs his/her clinic on a Friday. Nothing we can do. J' phoned, and then I phoned later and tried to be a bit more assertive. The midwife was really sympathetic [it was a completely different team who fucked up] but she had no options she could offer us.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 3:59 PM
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I was thinking of epistemically transformative experiences, where you have an experience with a genuinely new phenomenal "feel."

I'm still unclear on this (of course, only if you have time to keep talking about it, and also welcome to Unfogged. I'd offer you a fruit basket, but I think we've lost the link and it was a terrible fruit basket anyway) How were you thinking of sorting new experiences into ones that are genuinely new and ones that aren't, though? As Sifu says, new sensory perceptions are pretty clear -- if you haven't seen red, nothing's like it.

But all sorts of things are like having children in parts -- being overworked on a pressured job can give you some insight into involuntary sleep deprivation, owning a pet can expose you to responsibility for another animal's bodily functions, any loving relationship with another person is in some way similar to feelings of parental love. What makes having children necessarily transformative, in that similar experiences can't give you good information about what it's like? The long-term irrevocability of the relationship, or just that most people tend to report it as transformative?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 4:00 PM
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re: 117

I don't (as per comments above, 22.last, for example) buy the idea that it's phenomenologically or epistemically distinct from experiences we've already had in ways such that it's genuinely unknowable or unpredictable.

Perhaps it's uniquely transformative in terms of its effect on the self, but I don't really buy that there's a what-its-like-ness that we can't anticipate. Tweety makes the same point in 119.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 4:02 PM
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120: Well, when I was trying not to go into labor with Sally, the only advice my midwives had was to stay well hydrated. I pass it on for what it's worth.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 4:03 PM
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113: no husband staying overnight
Say what? The basic labor-and-delivery floor of our hospital had this as a standard feature. I mean, it also had yoga balls, so it was at least a little SWPL, but really.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 4:05 PM
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I've been dubious about having kids my whole life because we're pretty sure that for several people in my family it wasn't transformative. You can do an objectively fine job of raising kids using duty and mild affection instead of selfless love, but it seems a little hard on all parties.


Posted by: Silent Cal | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 4:12 PM
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109, 110 et al: Thanks. It hasn't been a wonderful couple weeks. (which I resent because I want to be excited!)

We're just going to have to find a new doctor, get a second ultrasound, and proceed from there. Pet the dog, eat too much cheese, lust after alcohol, ignore the alarmist articles my mother sends me--you know, go through the pregnancy motions for a while.


Posted by: Sally Hemings | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 4:16 PM
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Another issue: I don't see how the unknowability/unpredictability/leap of faith thing isn't also subject to massive variation, both individual and cultural/historical. Someone like Ttam with considerable experience taking care of little kids really is in a different position w/r/t degree of transformation than someone who didn't have that experience. A woman entering into a marriage in a culture where women don't work and are primarily confined to the home will view the appearance of a child differently than the hypothetical SWPL/WEIRD professional woman we're generally imagining in these discussions.

Which suggests to me that we're not talking about something inherently unknowable and transformative; a leap of faith, sure, but not one radically dissimilar to, say, starting a business or going off to college for the first time. You definitely don't know what will happen, but based on your past experience you might have a pretty reasonable idea of at less some parameters of the experience.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 4:24 PM
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Disclaimers: I haven't read the paper, and am generally kind of an idiot.

Thinking about the issue generally, not the paper specifically, I also wonder if the "this was so transformative" thing is something that people mostly feel in the first 0-3 years of their first kid. I remember having something like that feeling for a while after my kid was born. Now that my kid's a bit older and the shock has worn off a bit, I just feel like just plain old me, but I happen to have a kid -- there doesn't feel like a fundamental transformation of the self, just a different person in my life, different set of responsibilities and activities, etc.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 4:30 PM
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Someone like Ttam with considerable experience taking care of little kids really is in a different position w/r/t degree of transformation than someone who didn't have that experience.

Even more so someone in a large, multigenerational household with shared child care, who moves from being responsible for and doing childcare tasks for younger siblings and cousins continuously until having their own children with respect to whom they share responsibility and childcare tasks with their own parents and siblings.

Or, on the other hand, someone who doesn't do any of the child care and doesn't have much contact with their children: think of a fictional nineteenth century aristocrat who ignores his children in the care of servants until they go away to boarding school.

Generally, it seems like having children is the sort of thing that might be transformative depending on the circumstances, and is likely to be transformative for a typical middle class person from a western country, but isn't going to be necessarily transformative for everyone, in the same way that the first sight of red would be necessarily transformative.

(Man, we need Labs back. I liked this blog more when there was more philosophy shop talk than lawyering shop talk.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 4:32 PM
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For some people, having a child is so transformative they move from Brooklyn to suburban villages on the Hudson.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 4:33 PM
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Thinking about the issue generally, not the paper specifically, I also wonder if the "this was so transformative" thing is something that people mostly feel in the first 0-3 years of their first kid. I remember having something like that feeling for a while after my kid was born.

This seems right to me. Parenting babies was very different from any earlier life experience. Having teenagers/preteens lurching around the house covered in eyeliner and surliness is much more like, you know, having relatives, which I've had since I was born.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 4:34 PM
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Sally, like everyone else I'm appalled by your doctor's behavior. I just want to put in a little plug for parenting kids at risk for ADHD/autism/schizophrenia(/bipolar disorder/heart disease/addiction/OCD/who knows what when I only know about one parent at best) because knowing the odds doesn't let you know anything about what child you'll actually be raising. I would put Mara and Nia up against any of the other unfogged kids in a competition for cuteness or awesomeness and their challenges are almost entirely from rough early experiences rather than things they're predisposed to. (I know I might say something different when they're teens, but both Colton and Rowan had done some really unfortunate things as teens and were at risk for bad outcomes and I still love them so much.) I really appreciate what will has said above about how mindful he and his ex-wife were in planning for their son, but I also feel like I have to speak up for the unwanted outcomes not necessarily being things you'll regret either.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 5:23 PM
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119, 121:
OK, now we have moved to the next controversial claim of the paper, that having a child is truly transformative. Sifu Tweety, in the paper I argue that the experiences of having a child grow inside you, of giving birth, and of seeing and holding your newborn child, along with the phenomenal effects of hormonal and other biological changes, cause a phenomenal difference. All of these effects are perceptual in a broad (but what I take to be acceptable) sense. Beliefs and other mental states may also change, but what would matter for my claim is the change in phenomenal feel associated with those mental state changes. LizardBreath, it isn't that other sorts of experiences can't give you some information about being a parent, but I don't think they give you the information you need to determine what it is like, for you, to have your very own child. (So, it *really really* matters how you define what the phenomenal outcome is that we are trying to assess.)

Now, all that said, I recognize that there can be a range of transformativeness of experiences, and some will be more transformative than others. I think there is a hard-to-specify line that we cross at some point, where the experience is transformative enough that we cannot with any reasonable amount of accuracy assign a value to having it, since it is too foreign to us. There is vagueness here, as you would expect with any real-life case, but I think that the cases of having a child, and seeing color for the first time, etc., fall on one side of the line, whereas, say, trying some slightly darker sort of chocolate falls on the other (assuming that experience is pretty similar to previous chocolate experiences).


Posted by: L. A. Paul | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 5:26 PM
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119, 121:
OK, now we have moved to the next controversial claim of the paper, that having a child is truly transformative. Sifu Tweety, in the paper I argue that the experiences of having a child grow inside you, of giving birth, and of seeing and holding your newborn child, along with the phenomenal effects of hormonal and other biological changes, cause a phenomenal difference. All of these effects are perceptual in a broad (but what I take to be acceptable) sense. Beliefs and other mental states may also change, but what would matter for my claim is the change in phenomenal feel associated with those mental state changes. LizardBreath, it isn't that other sorts of experiences can't give you some information about being a parent, but I don't think they give you the information you need to determine what it is like, for you, to have your very own child. (So, it *really really* matters how you define what the phenomenal outcome is that we are trying to assess.)

Now, all that said, I recognize that there can be a range of transformativeness of experiences, and some will be more transformative than others. I think there is a hard-to-specify line that we cross at some point, where the experience is transformative enough that we cannot with any reasonable amount of accuracy assign a value to having it, since it is too foreign to us. There is vagueness here, as you would expect with any real-life case, but I think that the cases of having a child, and seeing color for the first time, etc., fall on one side of the line, whereas, say, trying some slightly darker sort of chocolate falls on the other (assuming that experience is pretty similar to previous chocolate experiences).


Posted by: L. A. Paul | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 5:26 PM
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In the far-future Golden Age series, the threshold for a personality copy becoming legally a new person, instead of a deletable extra instance, is when they change enough to make decisions that the source-person can't predict given all the information.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 5:31 PM
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I am sorry, Sally.

I have some friends who were fairly staunch Catholics. Then, after IVF, they were looking at having six babies. They reduced to 3. Very traumatic for them. They were very displeased with the doc.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 6:27 PM
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, in the paper I argue that the experiences of having a child grow inside you, of giving birth, and of seeing and holding your newborn child, along with the phenomenal effects of hormonal and other biological changes, cause a phenomenal difference

This is where I admit that I am a very poor reader of philosophy -- while this is clearly in the paper (section 4, starting on page 10), I completely failed to process it as important to the argument. (What I thought it was doing in the paper if it wasn't important I have no idea. In my defense, I read things written by lawyers all day, and that's mostly a process of sifting through piles of words looking for the sentence or two that matters.)

Mostly, I think it failed to sink in because it seems so wrong to me. The experiences of pregnancy, childbirth, and becoming attached to a newborn are certainly intense and not much like anything else, but they also seem like a very small part of the overall experience of having children, such that evaluating "what will it be like for me to have children" in terms of pregnancy, childbirth, and neonatal care seems to miss most of the point.

I suppose you can argue is that having had that set of intense experiences affects the rest of the parenting experience in a way that makes it unaccessible to the person who hasn't had children, but it would never have occurred to me to think so.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 6:38 PM
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134: I think there is a hard-to-specify line that we cross at some point, where the experience is transformative enough that we cannot with any reasonable amount of accuracy assign a value to having it, since it is too foreign to us.

I confess I find it hard to argue with the proposition that having a child is deeply transformative for some people, but the considerations in 127.1 and 129 shouldn't be ignored: for some people, having a child is just going to be a continuation of/variation on things they've known before (in a way that becoming able to hear for the first time is not quite so culturally conditioned).

I ultimately don't know what's at stake in extending the arguments for the transformativeness of child-bearing (-rearing?) to the rationality, or lack thereof, of decision making.

I will say that discussions of experiences so transformative that one is as though *a different person* in the aftermath remind me most of what people who go through extreme illness or injury report. (Of course, in the vast majority of cases, there is no rational decision making involved, except to the extent that one might decide to, e.g., keep a limb rather than excise it. say). There is in common an irrevocability that rocks our worlds.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 6:55 PM
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"I suppose you can argue is that having had that set of intense experiences affects the rest of the parenting experience in a way that makes it unaccessible to the person who hasn't had children."

I think of that set of intense experiences as the causal kick-start for an extended experience of having one's own child that is inaccessible to the non-parent, perhaps because one becomes a different person, in the sense of realizing a new self-perspective.


Posted by: L. A. Paul | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 7:20 PM
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I had a long comment and then I deleted the whole thing, which is too bad because it had a whole extended thing about the universality of hormonal changes, but anyhow the gist is that it still seems to me that showing the existence of an indivisible having-a-child qualia is a tougher row to hoe than a, for instance, experience-of-hearing qualia, and I'm still not sure (given the ways I can imagine carving off the various hormonal, biological and emotional changes involved) that I buy it. Past that, I think that -- given the multifaceted complexity of experience -- there is going to be a very high bar for said qualia to clear; it is not enough for it to dramatically reduce the accuracy of one's estimate of the value of child-having (so that, for instance, it could have the wrong sign, or be off by several orders of magnitude along whatever axis) it has to change the character of that estimate so generating a meaningful expected value is impossible. Given how easy it is for me to conceive of the aggregate change of child-having as constituted in large part of components that are related to (but translated, or oppositely valent, or whatever) fairly common experiences, I am not sure what it would to convince me of said bar-clearing.

Maybe it'll be different after my kid is born.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 7:30 PM
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And all that is sort of orthogonal to the decision-theoretic issues, where I feel like things like hyperbolic discounting and social mirroring and whatever are going to gum up the estimatory works for any highly emotionally valent long-term decision well before you get to specific transformative characteristics of baby makin'.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 7:32 PM
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I am not sure what it would take to convince me of said bar-clearing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 7:35 PM
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That seems like something you could look at through adoptive parents. I know you bracketed them out in the paper as having a different ( although explicitly not inferior) experience, but they really seem worth thinking about: do adoptive parents of, say ten-year-olds really seem to be doing something importantly different than biological parents of ten-year-olds? Does it seem much easier for an adoptive parent to make a rational choice to adopt than for a bio parent to make a rational choice to have a kid? Both of those seem hard to defend, but you need to be able to explain why they're not true if biological childbirth is a significant part of what makes parenting fundamentally unpredictable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 7:35 PM
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I should have added, to the list of complicating factors in 141, the relationship between the relative realism of simulations of future events and the validity of judgments about those events seems like it might be neither linear nor even necessarily monotonic, just as counterfactual evaluations of past events are not necessarily rendered more accurate by the plausibility of the counterfactual (depending on the emotional valence of the road not taken, among other things).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 7:43 PM
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139: I think of that set of intense experiences as the causal kick-start for an extended experience of having one's own child that is inaccessible to the non-parent

You'll want to be careful there. As an adopted child, I'm very much aware that my (adoptive) parents were fully committed to me, I changed their lives, etc.

On preview, pwned by 143.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 7:45 PM
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I'm going to take another crack at this:
there is going to be a very high bar for said qualia to clear; it is not enough for it to dramatically reduce the accuracy of one's estimate of the value of child-having (so that, for instance, it could have the wrong sign, or be off by several orders of magnitude along whatever axis) it has to change the character of that estimate so generating a meaningful expected value is impossible

What I mean is that it is entirely possible that, per the paper, you will feel any one of an extraordinary range of emotions on the birth of your child, or during the upbringing of your child. It could produce anything from a continuous state of mindless, beatific joy (I mean, it's not super likely, but maybe you gave birth to the messiah or the baby's made out of pot or something) to life-wrecking major depression. But all that is really necessary to evaluate the decision is that the range of reactions that you can simulate constrains your estimate of the value of child-having as compared to the value of not-child-having, right? You don't need the whole picture in order to have a decision-theoretic basis; you only need two differentiable outcomes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:00 PM
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Also I have now learned that the singular of "qualia" is "quale". Thus transformed, I will attempt to be more grammatical with that concept in the future.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:01 PM
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Babies don't crap pot. No matter how green it looks, don't even try.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:06 PM
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I hear if you smoke baby poop it makes you think you're a space alligator. No lie.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:09 PM
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Sifu is doing his best to talk gobbledygook, but is right. As is LB in 143.last.

Anecdotally: Having served as the birth partner for a friend who'd chosen to be a single mother, when the baby finally came out -- after many hours, very intense, decisions to be made all night long at 4 a.m. -- I spontaneously cried too, with joy. Miracle of birth and all. It's a deeply emotional thing.

Honestly, while childbirth (and -raising) are unique, so are many other things.

I appear to be pwned yet again.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:12 PM
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What if you are a space alligator?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:12 PM
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151 to 150.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:13 PM
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I will say that discussions of experiences so transformative that one is as though *a different person* in the aftermath remind me most of what people who go through extreme illness or injury report.

Death of a parent (or a child) also comes to mind as a situation often described in these terms.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:28 PM
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82: The couples who reproduce don't actually make a decision, they just act on the assumption that they'll have kids because that's what people do.

This has gone underemarked.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:32 PM
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OT: So, apparently the cook is a Ron Paul supporter with tattoos covering both arms. I don't understand kids today.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:38 PM
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Does Ron Paul disapprove of tattoos or something?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 8:56 PM
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I have no idea. Should I ask her?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:13 PM
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Sure, I guess.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 9:15 PM
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||

The Vatican bids farewell to Benedict in Comic Sans, and the kind of web design that only their kind of wealth can buy.

|>


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 10:59 PM
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I think I'm allergic to the word "qualia".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 1-13 11:58 PM
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It's a common side effect of advanced training in physics.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 12:00 AM
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I love 143.2


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 5:57 AM
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160: I felt vaguely bad using it, like I was betraying some not-very-explicitly-held principle. But it seemed only fair to meet Prof. Paul on her turf.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 6:45 AM
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Fathers might work as well to look at the importance of the biological events as adoptive parents. They get pregnancy and childbirth secondhand -- they might find them profoundly affecting, but also might not, and it seems really hard to argue that what a man goes through when a woman he has impregnated is pregnant and gives birth is a fundamentally new experience in the relevant sense. Which leaves you with first encountering your newborn as the primary experience of biological childbearing that's available to men that has the sort of transformative effect we're talking about.

And at that point you get into men who are away from home when their children are born, perhaps for extended periods of time, and first meet them as toddlers. Is a man in that position capable of rationally evaluating the choice to have children in a fundamentally different way than a woman or a man who was present and involved in pregnancy, childbirth, and neonatal care? This seems really hard to defend to me, but again, it seems as if you need to deal with it if the argument that having children biologically is the sort of thing that can't, for the reasons given in the paper, be rationally evaluated ahead of time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 7:33 AM
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For that matter I'm also allergic to the word "incommensurability".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 7:37 AM
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165: past essear wouldn't even recognize you with all these allergies.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 7:39 AM
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This has gone underemarked.

Be the change you want to see.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 8:42 AM
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||

Another cute problem from MIT's Technology Review magazine.

You want to invert 3 signals but while you have an unlimited number of and and or gates you only have 2 inverters. How do you do it?

|>


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 9:27 AM
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I like Das Rheingold! It is much shorter than the others (only about two and a half hours) and is different in some ways from the others. The fun is in listening for the leitmotifs as they appear for the different characters and concepts. I think you'd enjoy that part, neb. It's like subtitles for your ears.

The Met played their last Ring cycle at the movie theaters last summer and I went to all of them. What was annoying to me was the set of whisperers who showed up to them. Venomous shushing worked on them until Siefried, when I ended up having to summon the manger to shut them up. Why on god's green earth you'd go to five hour long operas in German in the movie theater if not to listen to the music still puzzles me, but if any of my silent curses actually worked they were all killed in terrible industrial accidents so I cannot ask them.


Posted by: winna | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 9:30 AM
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153: I'd say an experience is "transformative" if getting through it requires grabbing major skills or mindsets one didn't possess before. I didn't have much trouble with doing the father thing, that's just mostly applied cloth-folding and pinning, along with puppy training. Dealing with a cluster of deaths of people close to one is another story.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 9:31 AM
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There were some really good comments on the Crooked Timber thread (besides my own I mean). I agree with some of them that Laurie seems overly impressed by the parenting hype -- there's a certain dimension in modern parenting discussions that almost protests too much. This comment is a little cynical but sums it up well, and this comment I think got very accurate about what is going on sociologically with the 'transformative' claim:

I'd say that the "transformative" aspect relates mostly to educated, urban professionals. The way of life of a single person or of a DINK couple is often quite incompatible with having children. My wife and I, on the other hand, had been living quite nicely and quietly as educated middle-class professionals in a rural setting for some years before our first child. In fact, we have been surprised how little our first-born has changed our way of life. Most of the things we three are now unable to do, we two did not do earlier either. And when my wife and I want to have an evening free, we can ask our parents or siblings for help.

That seems exactly right to me -- imagine the impact of having a child for a farm couple living with or near a large extended family. You're already cleaning up animal shit and doing a lot of babysitting, it's a marginal but not an absolute change. For an urban couple going out every night and living far from any family your first kid will hit your lifestyle like a bomb.

And I thought Ogged's comment was great even beyond the fact that it was Ogged. What's really intense about childrearing in a highly individualistic extremely mobile ADD society is that it's one of our only remaining truly irrevocable committments, truly binding forms of duty that there is no way to back out of. It's one of our only relationships that hasn't been assimilated to freedom of contract. That is a sociological and not a biological fact, but it does account for a lot of the depth of having kids compared to other experiences today.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 10:00 AM
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Looking up, 171 was pwned several times -- didn't read the whole thread before posting.

Also, this probably varies a lot by person/couple, but re 170 and other comments further up on fatherhood -- at least my personal experience was that there was a qualitative difference between fatherhood and motherhood. My partner had the baby kind of 'in her head' from moment one in a way I just didn't -- e.g. every time she was out of sight of the baby she would have intrusive worries about whether he was OK, she couldn't seem to help it even if there was no evidence there was anything wrong. I didn't have that and still don't. I don't want to overgeneralize from our experience, but it's tempting to think that has something to do with pregnancy/motherhood and is not necessarily part of fatherhood.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 10:26 AM
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"Crucially, this involves assessments of your future experiences."

Shorter version: "delusions of control"

It is to laugh.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 10:27 AM
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It's also possible that you aren't really trying to assess what you're future experiences will be like for you, but that parental ideation is a means of clarifying how you are, now, thinking about what parenting involves. Since the question is whether you do, now, want children, that seems legitimate. (Perhaps it's still not what decision theory would have us do.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 10:31 AM
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172: My Ex wasn't particularly anxious as a mother; I was the one to flash on zebras instead of horses if they ran a fever but I was laid back compared to today's parents.

I'm thinking it's a generational thing; having kids and taking care of them was just something one did, and there were plenty of examples of people doing so around to look at, and one could pick this style or that one, or combine some, and so on. No big deal.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 10:36 AM
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re: 159

I could tell you more about that [their web design, IT team, data centre with lit up monogrammed floor tiles, etc] as I'm working on a joint project with them. But Swiss-ninjas would hunt me down and silence me.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 11:13 AM
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I'll use Halford's disclaimers: I haven't read the paper, and am generally kind of an idiot.

So, not letting that get in my way, I'll ask: is the point here the fact that there are decisions which we have no rational way to settle because they lead to transformative experiences, or is the point specifically regarding parenting? 'Cause if it's the former, I'd like Sifu to talk about dropping acid.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 11:14 AM
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re: 176 / 159

They really are amazingly political, though. I've been to less than half a dozen meeting with them, and there's always absurd intrigue.

Us: 'Why don't you just tell them you think the idea isn't practical?'
Them: [recoiling in horror] 'No! Listen, we have a plan.'

and then it all gets a bit Vizzini.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 11:17 AM
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is the point here the fact that there are decisions which we have no rational way to settle because they lead to transformative experiences, or is the point specifically regarding parenting?

It seems to be principally the former. The latter -- parenting -- is supposed to be a counter-example to rational decision theory (or whatever it's called), and is therefore worked at length.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 11:28 AM
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Huh. I've skimmed bits of the original paper, and a great deal trades on the notion of epistemic impoverishment: having never seen the color red, having never had a child.

The term "impoverishment" (or "poverty") is unfortunate: it suggests that there's something wrong in having failed to experience these things. If we remain philosophically neutral, clinical, about the discussion, we can overlook that, but it does somewhat unnecessarily raise hackles. It introduces a (presumably unintended?) normativity to the matter.

Epistemic "unavailability" is more helpful to my mind. Consider other things many people haven't experienced: the death of a parent/child/spouse, say. The chopping off of a limb. Sure, technically, you're impoverished if you haven't lived that, but, er, it strikes me as more helpful to describe the situation in terms of unavailability.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 12:29 PM
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178. Officers of mediaeval courts were all like that, presumably.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 12:39 PM
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180.3 reminds me of, say, Charlotte Mary Yonge's novels, which value Christian renunciation and abnegation. In their worldview you might be impoverished if you've never prayed over a child's deathbed and seen the beautiful light. Of course, in their world there were many more such deathbeds -- although this and the Updates thread remind me that we hide death the way they hid sex, so I probably don't really know how much is around me.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 12:43 PM
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180 might seem as though it's making a point about mere terminology and hidden agendas (and it is), but I want it to go further: crikey, we are all of us, every day, operating under conditions of epistemic impoverishment.

Does the rational decision theory (again: I don't know the proper term) under debate really propose that we make decisions rationally just in case we are not epistemically impoverished? Really?

I'm really back to Tweety's comments 16 and 20 upthread: what notion of rationality is contested here?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 12:59 PM
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168: trade?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 1:04 PM
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||

Am I the only who finds The New Republic unreadable in its new incarnation?

|>


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 1:56 PM
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only one, that is.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 1:56 PM
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Re 143:
Biologically producing the child isn't necessary, it is sufficient. So it may well be that becoming an adoptive parent is transformative as well. I definitely agree it's relevant, and it is something that is worth investigating. The case is harder to make--but I am inclined to think it'll still go through. Another relevant question involves choosing to have a second child. Or a third. At what point is there enough similarity to allow for accuracy in phenomenal prediction?

(Just one more thing--not directed to LizardBreath but to commenters in general. I just want to re-emphasize that the issue is making a decision based on a prediction about one's future phenomenology. Not just any sort of decision to have a child.)


Posted by: L. A. Paul | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 2:05 PM
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At what point is there enough similarity to allow for accuracy in phenomenal prediction?

It's certainly not after the first one. Eldest children are nearly always massively better than younger ones.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 2:35 PM
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I dunno, we've had an increase in compliance as we've moved through the birth order. Sally is compelling and magnetic, but not terribly useful as a roommate. Newt makes coffee and takes the recycling out without protest.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 2:39 PM
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I suppose it may have changed since the 70s.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 2:45 PM
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191

185: It was readable?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 4:03 PM
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It's got some sort of clever typeface thing that works on my phone but looks horrible in desktop-Chrome.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 4:23 PM
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193

||
stupid possibly embarrassing bleg: I'm trying to remember the name of a YA book (which had a movie adaptation) set in Montana or Wyoming I think, possibly with single mother of a boy and then there's a strong female contemporary of the boy... The book reminded me of CD Payne or the lighter parts of Sherman Alexie.
|>


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 6:57 PM
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193: Do you remember any anecdotes from it? It's the weird stuff that makes books memorable and findable. Right now, this isn't ringing any bells for me, but it might. Any idea when it was written/what era it was set in? What the cover looked like? Anything?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 7:02 PM
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Hmm. The female contemporary dominated all the boys... The single mother was a dreamer/manic... The era was a bit nondescript but probably 80s I think.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 7:13 PM
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You should probably just google "female dominating boys" and see what you find.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 8:45 PM
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I think I don't really find "rationality" a terribly useful framework for talking about human decision-making.

It makes more sense when you think about it normatively, rather than as a scientific/factuual description, and that pushing the normative goal of 'rational' decision-making is part of the project project of bringing bureaucratic and market rationality to human affairs. Decision theoretic rationality does not look much like how people actually act, but it looks a lot like the procedure a management consultant would tell a corporation to use in making investment decisions. (Not saying it is necessarily correct there either though).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 11:12 PM
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You're choosing to do something irrational, because being rational isn't the biggest gold medal prize in the universe.

Clearly you would make a terrible philosopher.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 2-13 11:13 PM
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Well, I sure hope inviting someone-not-orientationally-incompatible over to watch a movie is not automatically seen as a sexual overture, or my evening will be odd.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 3-13 12:58 PM
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Shit.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 3-13 12:58 PM
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199-200: wow, judging by the time stamps, that got weird FAST.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 03- 4-13 7:47 AM
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Posted by: Tricia | Link to this comment | 07-31-13 12:37 AM
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