I think you're onto a profoundly important question, and I share your concern that the issue is not commonly one encounters in public discourses. I think the issue of having children is, as you say, bound up with concerns about prioritizing existing needs and also about the environmental consequences of additional pollution, consumption, habitat loss, etc. I think the issue, however, concerns both the more developed and the less developed world. The impacts from reproduction in each are different, but those impacts in both are substantial. Currently the levels of consumption in the less developed world are low, but we can't demand that populations remain impoverished. Moreover, populations in the less developed world are despite low individual levels of consumption nevertheless collectively exerting enormous pressures on non-human populations through their effects on water, habitat, and pollution. It is clearly, then, not morally unproblematic to reproduce under current circumstances for any of us. There, are, however, countervailing imperatives and mitigating qualifications that argue in favor, at least in a moderated way, for reproduction. Countervailing imperatives include the imperative to sustain cultures, families, and institutions that would cease to exist without a replenishing rate of reproduction--both in the poorer and wealthier parts of the globe. In addition, individuals find important moral and personal excellences as well as extraordinarily deep pleasures in bearing and raising children that would be lost with a moratorium, even for a short period. The window of reproduction for individuals is extremely small in relation to the time it will take to solve the grand problems we're considering. Think of these as our duties to ourselves. Qualifying or mitigating considerations include that halting reproduction in the developed world is not by itself either necessary nor sufficient to address the needs of those who require more resources both in the developed and less developed regions of the globe. Many of the problem we face are related to problem rather than to the finitude of resources. My own view is that it is in most circumstances wrong to reproduce at more than the rate of replacement, and that the world generally should move towards measures to reduce reproduction to less than the replacement rate. I'd guess that human populations should be reduced by at least a half over time, perhaps by two thirds. You may have seen the recent recommendation of biologist E. O. Wilson that we set aside at least half of the Earth for non-human species. That seems a reasonable goal to me. We must also aim for a population that can not only exist in poverty but instead flourish without the use of fossil fuels and perhaps also without the use of nuclear power.
There are a number of reasons for the asymmetry for the difference in the way biological and adoptive parents are treated. The first is privacy. The second is liberty. The decision to reproduce and the process of reproduction are among the most personal, intimate, and emotionally profound in human life, and they involve one's own body. For the state or institutions to intrude into that process would entail compromising the most private dimensions of our lives and bodies and interferring with people's liberty in substantial ways, and people find that intolerable, especially given the epistemic problems in determining who is and is not fit to parent. The question of whether people are fit to parent can be handled once children are born. Scrutinizing prospective parents through adoption requires no iintrusion into the private matter of biological reproduction or positive comprimising of the liberty of people. Of course, the state and the community do have an interest in new members of the community being well raised, but many of those concerns can b addressed through providng sufficient schools, parks, social workers, jobs, security, health care, etcs. That is the interests of the community seem adequately served through alternatives to violations of privacy and liberty. There are, of course, difficult cases: prisoners, those with criminal histories and histories of profound mental illness or other health concerns. There is also the issue of enforcement. Consider a woman who is not licensed to reproduce but becomes pregnant anyway. What is to be done with her? A forced abortion? Liberty and privacy concerns rebuke that idea. Fines? That may end up harming the child by depriving its parent of resources needed to raise it well. Seizing the child and transferring it to another couple for adoption? Besides the liberty and privacy issues, most would, I think, find that punishment disporportionately punitive.
This is largely an empirical and psychological rather than a philosophical or conceptual question. I suspect that there are both natural and social reasons for the association. I can think of how some cultures use white for mourning while others black, how some associate red with luck and good fortune while others associate it with vice and anger. On the other hand, there seems a biological link between seasonal affect/exposure to bright/intense/full spectrum/natural light and therefore between dark/gray/blue environments and depression. I suppose one philosophically interesting bit would be whether it's possible to have an experience of color that's not conditioned by emotional and conceptual matters. The conditions for the possibility of color experience and the possibility of color experience independent of other experiences would be interesting to investigate not only empirically but also conceptually. We might argue that the very concepts of color (red, blue, yellow, etc.) are more and must be more than designators of hue.
One might say, in fact, that memory is part of our imaginative capacity, or at least dependent upon our imaginative capacity to the extent it is composed of imaginative mental phenomena. One way to distinguish memories from other imaginative events, then, as Oliver Leeman suggests, is by their epistemic status. Genuine memories are true, while imaginative events generally may or may not be. But I'd add that it's possible to have imaginative events that are true but are not memories. They would be true accidentally, or by luck. For example, I might imagine that right now a Turkish fighter jet has engaged a target along the Syrian frontier--and by chance it might be so. I'd say, then, that another feature of memories that distinguishes them from imaginations is their causal history. Memories are cause by past experiences, by our past interactions with the world, ourselves, and others. Imaginations may be dreamt up at any time. But these are rather objective ways of distinguishing memories from imaginations (i.e. that memories are true and caused by our past experiences in ways that are evident in the memories). And I suspect you're looking for a subject way of distinguishing memories from imaginations. I can think of two criteria for making that distinction offhand. One is that memories fit into a coherent narrative of our lives. If I think of myself having a conversation with Socrates in ancient Athens, one sign that I'm imagining things is that I didn't live in ancient Athens and couldn't have lived in ancient Athens, and I haven't time travelled there. On the other hand, if I remember having a conversation with my mother as child in a context that fits in with other memories and beliefs I have about my past, then there's a pretty good chance that I'm experiencing a memory. But, of course, I can imagine having a conversation with my mother that never happened, too. Here, I don't there's a clear way to make a subjective discernment between memory and imagination. The strength, force, and what Hume called vivacity of the memory might help signal that it's a genuine memory. But besides fit with other memories, narratives, and beliefs together with force and vivacity, to be sure it's a genuine memory we're going to have to look beyond ourselves and seek corroboration from others, from artifacts (like diaries and photos).
I suppose it depends upon what you mean by the phrase "in the way" when you say "in the way a new age sort might take it to mean." If by "in the way" you mean as a mind that can be determined through our individual choices or individual wishes, then no. Fichte's "mind" is not reducible or determined by our individual thoughts, feelings, and mental acts. And if by "in the way" you mean because it's simply pleasing or inspirational to think so, then, again, no. Fichte's position was developed in large measure through the rational demands, implications, and alternatives of philosophers trying to work out the necessary conditions for the very possibility of our selves, the world, freedom, causation, and our ability to understand/know. Having said that, it's also important to understand that the mind or consciousness or "I" we experience is not our self in the truest and most universal sense, that the world and we are the expression and activity of an immaterial consciousness, and that Fichte's work is not without dimensions of inspiration and speculation, as well as the attempt to determine existential meaning for human life.
It's funny you asked, as I have just been discussing with the Physics faculty at my university the possibility of having my course in Metaphysics count as an elective in their program. One might ask, I think, why there are categories at all. Why not just have disciplinary programs. The reason is often more administrative than pedagogical or theoretical. Universities need means of distributing budgets, committee assignments, and review procedures. Sure there is a background in the medieval division of the ancient liberal arts into two categories: the verbal studies of the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic) and the quantitative studies of the quadrivium (music, astronomy, arithmetic, and geometry). And there's a stream of division that extends out of nineteenth-century ideas about the human sciences. But I find very little theoretical consideration given to the division today. My hope, in fact, is that it will diminish somewhat in importance as interdisciplinary studies gain in prominence. And that's what I'd say about philosophy. It's trans-disciplinary, even meta-disciplinary, and itself not a single method or practice but a family of them. So, I think philosophy is properly located in both the sciences and humanities. Topics like logic, epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science, are properly taught and researched among the sciences. Others like, philosophy of language, ethics, aesthetics, philosophy of religion, and literary criticism are properly taught and researched among the humanities. Many, like courses in the history of philosophy, philosophical anthropology, and social political philosophy, are properly taught and researched in both.
Well, if someone is struck by lightning is it murder? A necessary condition for the commission of a crime is that the candidate criminal be an agent. Arguably, non-human animals are not. So, just as they can't consent to sex, they are incapable of rape or murder. Concepts of moral or criminal propriety just don't apply to non-human sex. One reason one is tempted to think otherwise is that non-human animals have moral standing. That is, they are the proper objects of moral consideration, and one can act morally or immorally towards them. But not everything with moral standing is a moral agent. Now, having said that, I do think there are other reasons for your justly wondering about this question. The sexual congress of plants and microbes doesn't raise this question. You aren't likely to wonder whether bees rape flowers. But the sexual activity of animals more closely related to humans seems strikingly similar to our own conduct, as do many non-human ways of eating. Moreover, non-humans close to us can be trained to behave in all sorts of ways in conformity with our own rules of conduct--e.g. dogs can be trained not to defecate in the house. Plus the sexual activity of other primates seems to involve something like rules of propriety as well as violations of those rules (e.g. deceptions and infidelities). And, perhaps most of all, as anyone who's spent a lot of time with non-humans will know, a good deal of sexual activity engaged by non-humans close to us resembles rape, as it commonly involves the violent subduing of females by males. But still the question must be asked whether non-humans can come to grasp and self-regulate using norms of sexual conduct that would include prohibitions against rape. Dogs can be trained not to hump the legs of humans. Can they be trained to gain consent before engaging in sexual conduct? My guess is that the concept of consent or anything approximating the concept of consent is beyond them. Non-humans that live among humans and possess a sufficient level of intelligence and tractability may be capable of acquiring less violent forms of sexual activity, but without consent (both given and understood) the concept of rape just won't apply.
Not only is it possible that pedophilia is in general not judged philosophically; as it is with virtually everything it is a near certainty. That, however, doesn't make the judgment incorrect. I can't speak to the reasons that pedophilia is thought to be harmful psychologically, but philosophically the issue is one of consent. That children should be initiated into and involved in a set of practices (i.e. sex) with such profound emotional, social, political, and moral implications without their consent is what offends philosophically. What determines when someone is able to give consent to sexual interaction, what criteria ought to be employed to determine when consent is properly given, etc., are interesting and difficult philosophical issues. I don't however think the aesthetic line of thought you pursue will prove terribly useful in this regard or in underwriting moral judgments about pedophilia, as what is thought to be disgusting pedophilia today was not so in the past--for example, in ancient Greece, in the Middle East, in Europe, etc. And, of course, even today there is likely to be little uniformity among individuals about this sort of aesthetic. Most of us, myself included, would find mutually consensual sex with, among, or between specific individuals disgusting aesthetically but perfectly acceptable in a moral sense. Consent is the issue and properly so.
I'm inclined to think your psychological account of the response is correct, though perhaps incomplete. I also think the intensity of the fury against the leaks indicates the extent to which the government and many citizens have internalized institutional authority as normal and overriding, that both the government and many citizens have lost touch with other, competing, and sometimes more important sources of authority and obligation. The authorities have reacted hysterically because they find intolerable the idea that people might act upon other grounds and find themselves compelled by duties that the authorities don't define. They are not only upset with these leaks, but they fear that these leaks may inspire others. The policies of the state, however, are not always congruent (and are often not congruent) with the interests of the nation, or with what is morally right. So far, Wikileaks has no demonstrable blood on its hands. If it had, the specifics would be broadcast on FOX 24/7. Defense Secretary Gates has announced that whatever damage may have been done seems "moderate." The military has indicated it has not even found it necessary to warn anyone whom might be in danger. Wikileaks worked carefully with press organizations and through them with the State Department to redact information from the documents that might harm people. (So, organizations that have published the leaks along with Wikileaks such as the New York Times, Der Spiegel, and the Guardian have blood on their hands, too, if Wikileaks does.) This, of course, may change, and it may turn out that the leaks have caused and will cause suffering and death. And that possibility is a morally troubling dimension of leaks of this sort. It does warrant the judgment that leaking is not the most desirable way of dealing with government misconduct. On the other hand, the leaks have clearly shown that the US government, unlike Wikileaks, actually does have blood on its hands. The Iraq leaks revealed 15,000 deaths that had gone unreported, a number of which may have been criminal in nature. They revealed US complicity in many, many, many cases of torture and abuse of prisoners--details that the public had not known until that point. They have revealed US military actions in Pakistan that had been unknown. And they have confirmed that the US bombed Yemen in November of 2009 killing scores of civilians, many of them children, in an action that had been denied. The leaks have demonstrated that the US government has interfered with investigations of murder and torture in Spain and Germany and that Arab governments have lied about important matters to their people and have been calling for the bombing of Iran. All this involves real blood, not the hypothetical sort to which charges against Wikileaks appeal. Moreover, the leaks reveal real, violent conduct, the sort of conduct about which citizens of free societies ought to know (and ought to want to know) in order to assess the policies of their governments. Wikileaks has also exposed corruption in Iceland, Nigeria, Australia, and Peru. It is a measure of the extent to which the US is not a free society that so much more attention has been focused upon the messenger than upon the deeply troubling content of the message. Having said that, not all leaks are proper or defensible. In my view, violating secrecy classifications is justifiable only when two conditions are met: (1) the violation serves to expose serious government corruption, criminality, or misconduct--in short, when the leak serves the public interest in a substantial way--and (2) when lawful alternatives to exposing the corruption, etc., are not reasonably available. In the case of Wikileaks, I'd say that the jury is still out. Only if we find (1) that the information disclosed on balance serves the public interest in a substantial way and (2) that the information could not have been acquired through lawful channels, will the leaks have been justifiable. It's seem clear to me that the second condition has been met: The failure of the US government and its citizens to pursue proper investigations into the process that led to the Iraq War, the financial corruption involved in prosecuting the wars, into torture, rendition, surveillance, and unlawful killing warrants the conclusion that the information the leaks have revealed about wrongdoing would not have been released through normal, legal channels. The vast numbers of trivial and meaningless documents in the leaks that were classified as secret suggests a pervasive abuse of secrecy classifications. That abuse, too, suggests that the second condition has been met. Still, I think's still too early to tell whether the first condition has been met: that is, on balance, whether the leaks have been for the good. We may soon discover terrible effects of the leaks that will outweigh the benefits so far achieved. To date, however, things look pretty good for the leakers.
For myself, I doubt there are unconditional oughts. Your book seems to have been informed by a specific kind of ethics associated with the work of Immanuel Kant, among others. For Kant there are two kinds of imperatives. One kind, called "hypothetical" imperatives are the sort where what one ought to do depends on a condition being met. They usually take the form of "If you want X, then do Y." Or "If you don't want X, then don't do Y," and so on. For Kant, these are really moral "oughts" since they depend out our desires. In cases like this one acts in order to satisfy one's self, to answer one's desires, not because the action is the moral thing to do. In such cases we are slaves to our desires and acting more or less selfishly. Often, in fact, what's the morally proper thing to do, according to this line of thinking, is to oppose our desires or even do what we don't desire. If I find money, I might desire to keep it, but the morally right thing is to return the cash. So, what your book is saying is that a nurse ought to help her patient, even if he or she doesn't want to do so. The patient might be a murderer, a rapist, or someone the nurse for other reasons loathes. For Kant and those like him, to act morally, one should act on a "categorical" imperative. Categorically, the nurse should help, no matter what the contingencies. I myself don't find these kinds of ethics entirely satisfying, but that's where I think your book is coming from.