Bryan Caplan  

Ideas Have Consequences: SRHMK Edition

More on Monopoly... Identity Politics and Phobias...
Simon Nicolas Caplan, my third son, was born this morning.  Mother, baby, and father are all doing well.

Besides the usual suspects, I'd like to thank the late great Julian Simon for putting me on my natalist path.  Almost as soon as I set eyes on my son, I remembered his words:

One spring day about 1969 I visited the U.S. AID office on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., to discuss a project intended to lower fertility in less-developed countries. I arrived early for my appointment, so I strolled outside in the warm sunshine.  Below the building's plaza I noticed a road sign that said "Iwo Jima Memorial."  There came to me the memory of reading a eulogy delivered by a Jewish chaplain over the dead on the battlefield at Iwo Jima, saying something like, "How many who would have been a Mozart or a Michelangelo or an Einstein have we buried here?" And then I thought, Have I gone crazy? What business do I have trying to help arrange it that fewer human beings will be born, each one of whom might be a Mozart or a Michelangelo or an Einstein - or simply a joy to his or her family and community, and a person who will enjoy life.

It is only fitting that my son will bear this great man's name.

I also owe a debt to the readers of EconLog.  Natalist thoughts had been running through my head for years.  But it was this forum that inspired me to clarify and organize the thoughts that have become the building blocks for my current book project, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids.  Much oblige!

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (28 to date)
Joe writes:

Mazel Tov!

Justin Ross writes:

Beautiful, congrats!

Alex J. writes:


David Robinson writes:


ryan yin writes:


El Presidente writes:

Good for you!

hacs writes:


JPIrving writes:

I reckon your children will have productivity well above average, and are more likely to be innovative. Keep cranking 'em out! Your wife rather...

Joshua Lyle writes:

Multa bene!

Paul writes:

Beautiful sentiments on a beautiful occassion. Congrats!

caveat bettor writes:

My 3rd is due tomorrow. Reading your natalist posts really solidified my conviction to go for it. Way to 'talk your book'!

Kevin writes:

How wonderful.

Javier writes:

Congrats!--I recently had my first (a girl).

Last year I read quite a bit in the philosophy literature on population ethics. My impression is that the natalist view is much more plausible than the alternatives. You are probably already familiar with the literature, but here are some things that I found helpful.

The best book-length defense of an axiology that supports natalism is John Broome, Weighing Lives (besides the seminal discussion in Reasons and Persons, book 4 and the appendix).

Some good articles:

Rachels, "Is It Good to Make Happy People?" Bioethics 12 (April 1998), pp. 93-110.

Krister Bykvist (2007). "The Benefits of Coming Into Existence." Philosophical Studies 135 (3).

Anyway, good luck!

Shayne Cook writes:

Congratulations Bryan and Mrs. Caplan. And Simon, Happy Birthday and welcome to the world!

Marite writes:

Felicitaciones!!! Congratulations to you, your wife and your two other children, and may God Bless you all

Monte writes:

Congrats! Simon is of Hebrew origin and means "to hear" or "to be heard."

'Nuff said...

Luke G. writes:


Ignacio writes:


Solomon S. writes:

Mazal Tov!

Matthew C. writes:

A heartfelt congratulations!

HispanicPundit writes:

Congrats Caplan! My wife and I too have decided to have an extra kid than originally planned because of your posts.

Maybe well name him Bryan?

Matt C writes:

Congratulations. So how soon can we expect #4? :)

forager writes:


Hume writes:

Just dont move to New Hampshire!

The Guardian ad Litem ... concluded that the daughter would be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior and cooperation in order to select, as a young adult, which of those systems will best suit her own needs....

[T]he Guardian ad Litem [also] echoed her previous concerns that Amanda's relationship with her father suffers to some degree by her belief that his refusal to adopt her religious beliefs and his choice instead to spend eternity away from her proves that he does not love her as much as he says he does....

[T]he Court is guided by the premise that education is by its nature an exploration and examination of new things, and by the premise that a child requires academic, social, cultural, and physical interaction with a variety of experiences, people, concepts, and surroundings in order to grow to an adult who can make intelligent decisions about how to achieve a productive and satisfying life.

The parties do not debate the relative academic merits of home schooling and public school: it is clear that the home schooling Ms. Voydatch has provided has more than kept up with the academic requirements of the [local] public school system. Instead, the debate centers on whether enrollment in public school will provide [the daughter] with an increased opportunity for group learning, group interaction, social problem solving, and exposure to a variety of points of view.... [T]he Court concludes that it would be in [the daughter's] best interests to attend public school....

In reaching this conclusion, the Court is mindful of its obligation not to consider the specific tenets of any religious system unless there is evidence that those tenets have been applied in such a way as to cause actual harm to the child. The evidence in this case does not rise to that level, and therefore the Court has not considered the merits of [the daughter's] religious beliefs, but considered only the impact of those beliefs on her interaction with others, both past and future. The Court declines to impose any restrictions on either party's ability to provide [the daughter] with religious training or to share with [the daughter] their own religious beliefs.


May God's blessings be on you and on your son, wife, and family!

And may he be a champion of liberty, probity and valor!

David J. Balan writes:

Yet another Mazel Tov!

eccdogg writes:

Congrats Brian!

Our second, Naomi was born on the same day!

The wife and I have always wanted a big family, and your post have reinforced that.

One question I would like to see you comment on is the desire for more children balanced against having them later in life.

I think we would like to have four kids, but we got a late start (first at 32) next at 34 and will probably be 36 before the next one (if we are so blessed).

How do you weigh the increased risk of pregnancy at a later age with the desire to have more children. It would be interesting to hear your thoughts.

rockpool writes:

Warmest congratulations. eccdogg I am about to have my third and I just turned 42 (the frist two were twins at 36). No idea if the benefits will outweigh the costs at my exceedingly advanced age, but I figure what the hell...not really an economically sound argument I acknowledge!!

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