I wonder what Peter Singer would say about this?
His usual argument is that adult non-human animals deserve more moral consideration than a newborn human baby because the adult is self-aware whereas the newborn is not and human vs. non-human does not deserve special consideration – sentience does.
So, I understand that piercing a babie’s ear is inflicting pain when the baby really doesn’t care at all about having pierced ears. But, I think its really cute and what if your baby girl looks like a boy? Or what if you wanna have your baby boy look like a lil pimp? I mean, it’s a pretty small amount of pain and if it really is a baby its not even self aware, the crying is a reaction to the pain but it won’t even register what “pain” is.
What do you think?
You probably like your siblings’ children on principle because they are your blood, and because they are cute and exciting and they don’t come home with you and you’re probably not obligated to touch their poop or deal with them after nine p.m. However, at some point the novelty will wear off and the constant screeching and whining and accepted tolerance for snot will get to you and you will find yourself thinking idle thoughts that, if acted on, could land you on an episode of 48 Hours. And other people’s children, jeez, don’t even get me started. Here are some philosophical methods for how to deal.
Talk to them like adults. Your angst will be magnified when you catch yourself addressing a child in the same voice you might talk to a puppy. Talk to children like adults and you’ll at least preserve your dignity, plus there’s a pretty large chance they won’t have any idea what you are talking about anyway.
Ask them Sesame Street versions of philosophical paradoxes. “So one grain of sand isn’t a pile… and two isn’t a pile… but one billion is! Why is that?” They won’t come up with anything groundbreaking, but hell, no one else has, and if you’re lucky enough and equipped with an iPhone they might say something stupid enough to get you a few hundred-thousand views on YouTube.
Give them things their parents won’t let them have because it will make them like you and therefore they will be easier to deal with. A couple of weeks ago I attended a hippie thirty-something barbeque (I know, first mistake) where the ‘cheeseburgers’ were vegan and every side dish came from a garden or co-op and people at my table were having an earnest discussion about the rationale of naming one’s recently-rescued cat after Wendell Berry. I brought Cheetos because I didn’t realize I was about to enter the modern version of the Manson Family, and at some point a forlorn eight-year-old (wearing something that could only be described as ‘thrifted burlap,’ natch) sauntered up to me and asked, “What are those?” An evil smile crossed my face as I dumped a pile onto his plate and thought to myself, “You’ll never be the same!” Do things like that.
Lie to them. Because it’s funny and harmless. Before you accuse me of being the opposite of philosophical, may I remind you that many philosophers justify not telling the truth if it will have a good outcome. And trust me, this outcome will be hilarious. Example: once when forced to deal with the other Lolz Doll’s notoriously unruly nephew (who had five minutes earlier kicked my Mike’s Hard Lemonade down the stairs, unforgivable) we told him there was a T-Rex locked in the basement whose hobby was feeding on five-year-olds, but that’d we’d struck a deal to keep him at bay so long as Danny behaved himself. It worked like a dream.