Abolish Genetic Chauvinism! Parents Should be Handed Somebody Else’s Babies at Random
I did when I saw this yesterday. But today I saw this 2016 article from Aeon:
by Howard Rachlin
is the Emeritus Research Professor of Psychology at Stony Brook University. His most recent book is The Escape of the Mind (2014).
and Marvin Frankel
Marvin Frankel obtained a PhD in psychology at the University of Chicago. He is currently a professor of psychology at Sarah Lawrence College. He has published numerous articles on clinical psychology.
March 4, 2016
Would swapping children at birth help to achieve a society without prejudice?
Imagine a world in which all the babies born each day were randomly redistributed among the biological parents. The infant assigned to any given set of parents could be white, black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, or any combination thereof (and that’s just the US); the baby could be perfectly healthy or grossly deformed. Parents would know only that their child was not their biological child. Let us call this social mixing.
This plan is of course politically impossible, perhaps even repellent. Our goal, however, is to engage the reader in a thought experiment, to examine why it stirs up such uncomfortable feelings.
Is the idea so frightening? Yes it is. It is a frightening thought that your own biological child, the one sitting there now doing her homework, might have gone to an impoverished mother or a drug addict, perhaps have been beaten, perhaps starved. But why, save for genetic chauvinism, do we view with comparative equanimity the everyday reality of other people’s children subject to the same treatment by their own biological mothers?
You may argue that genetic bias is indelible in human nature. Social mixing would not only disturb the comfort of this fatalistic attitude, but also use genetic chauvinism for ends beyond mere economic equality, providing grounds for a compassion that goes beyond the wellbeing of our immediate families. Since any man might be your biological brother, any woman your biological sister, concern for them would have to be expressed by a concern for a common good.
A second effect of social mixing would be to generate a strong interest in the health and wellbeing of expectant mothers, which would ultimately translate into an interest in the social and biological welfare of everyone. Since any child might end up our own, we would provide the social and educational environments that would best enhance their development. … The child of that addict might be our biological child. Every victim of a drive-by shooting might be a member of our genetic family. Each of us would see the link between our fate and the fate of others.
Third, the superficial connection between colour and culture would be severed. Racism would be wiped out. Racial ghettos would disappear; children of all races would live in all neighbourhoods. Any white child could have black parents and any black child could have white parents. Imagine the US president flanked by his or her black, white, Asian and Hispanic children. Imagine if social mixing had been in effect 100 years ago in Germany, Bosnia, Palestine or the Congo. Racial, religious, and social genocide would not have happened.
Fourth, the plan accords with John Rawls’s concept of justice, introducing a welcome element of randomness into the advantages that each child can expect. …
There are, of course, many natural objections to this idea. … But children are often adopted at relatively advanced ages, after they have formed close attachments with caregivers. Children adopted during their first year are at no disadvantage relative to non-adopted children. …
It may be objected that under social mixing cultural diversity would disappear. But this would only be true for diversity that depends on the shape of your features and the colour of your skin. This is the kind of diversity that racists wish to maintain. The cultural diversity we care about – of language, food, dress, religion, music, speech – would be preserved no less than it is now. …
I think the Democrats may have found their next big issue. Maybe not immediately, but by the time Chelsea Clinton is nominated, it will seem as inarguable as transgender locker rooms seemed to Hillary Clinton in 2016.
The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward Lazy Susan baby distribution.
(By the way, this article might be a joke, but the authors are real people, prominent professors. None of the 51 comments accused it of being a troll job. They all took it very seriously.
Remember, the moment I realized the Establishment intended to wage World War T was when I read an NYT article in May 2013 about how horrible it was than an ex-man MMA fighter wasn’t being allowed to beat up real women for money because of society’s prejudice against the transgender.)