Biologically we humans are animals.

I've thought about this lately and really would like the insight of others.

If animals start breeding when they reach bodily maturity, then why is this seen badly in "our realm"?

Also, animals seem to reach maturity early on. They hunt, care for oneself, etc, from an early age. But in our case it takes a long time. Is it because childhood has been extended over the years? Maybe because of customs or other factors?

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    – rus9384
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2 Answers 2


There's actually quite a bit of interesting philosophy that intersects with this question.

At the same time, as a couple of the comments on the question suggest, things can easily go off the rails (in terms of being on-topic) if this becomes a free-ranging discussion of why people stop teenagers from having sex and whether or not teenagers should have sex. So I'm going to restrict my answer to this question:

What are the general reasons that human sexuality is treated differently than the sexuality of other animals in terms of expectations about how old they are before they have babies? What are some of the frameworks behind the reasons people propose (across many cultures) for controlling this?

A major axis here is ethical naturalism and the naturalistic fallacy.

Ethical naturalism is ideas like:

  1. Aristotle's virtue ethic that builds on the human function (Nicomachean Ethics Book I)
  2. Natural law (at least it in its classical formulations).

The naturalistic fallacy is a mirror image of this in the claim that it is a mistake to think something is good just because it is "natural" (where nature is a word subject to many meanings).

In support of the former, if we don't eat, we die. Therefore not eating is bad.

In support of the latter, most animals the size of humans are willing to rip others apart and use them for food.

Your question in turn asks "why shouldn't humans reproduce like animals as soon as they reach bodily maturity?"

Those answering that they shouldn't would build their answer on either :

  1. a claim that it's an instance of the naturalistic fallacy to imagine we should echo animals in this domain


  1. a claim that the analogy is inept.

The more interesting route is 2. Humans differ from most animals if not in terms of rationality itself but in terms of the depth with which they engage in reasoning and the degree to which culture informs their actions.

For starters, we don't reach adult maturity until a much later age than many animals. Further, our children are more fragile compared to the children of most other animals for longer. Third, due to the way in which we develop, we require a lot more of the parents than many other animals.

  1. Our society is divided to nuclear families.

Since this, burden of responsibility lies on the shoulders of parents. But at early age it's impossible to have both salary (this alone is seen almost impossible) and the possibility to raise children.

So, the alternative to this is to give up a child. But if everyone did this, a chaos would begin. Who would raise those children? Orphanages would be overcrowded, people would need to pay much more of their money (through taxes) for children they don't know.

  1. Child mortality nowadays is much lower than in prehistoric times.

So, it would be reasonable to breed as soon as people could in prehistoric society which was not divided to nuclear families. Since majority of babies would die it'd be the only way to increase population through high birth rates. But in the present we don't have these problems and such breeding strategy would result in overpopulation and undesirable labor (again, raising children, feeding them, etc.).

Of course, there can be other reasons, but I see these as the most important.

Note, there could be undesirable consequences such as children mortality (now not because of illnesses, but merely because there would not be enough caregivers) and people do not want to have such burden.

I also want to say that p.1 has much more weight: if our society would not be divided in nuclear families, I'm pretty sure, the government (or some other organizations) would regulate births. But in that case age would not really matter, I believe as caregivers would not be (I assume) biological parents.

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