Antinatalism – or Anti-natalism – is the position that having a child in this world is unethical because of the needless suffering that procreation leads to.
There are many reasons why deliberate procreation can be regarded as unethical: Firstly, ours is a world full of danger, sorrow and misery. Our culture betrays the truth, all of our movies and books are about the hardship of life. “Life isn’t fair” is a common pearl of wisdom passed-on. Given these facts, what but selfishness would lead you to bring a new consciousness into it? By creating a life you are introducing something that can suffer and inflict suffering on others, as most humans do. There was no need to do that – the universe wasn’t missing some more pleasure or suffering. If you simply refrain from creating that consciousness, there is no deprivation – there is no new being ‘missing out’ on any pleasure. From our perspective, does that not seem better – having neither suffering nor deprivation of pleasure?
How does one know at 25 enough about life to be qualified to put another conscious being through 70+ years of it? If you haven’t gone through the process of decay and death, then Antinatalists think you have no right to create those unknown and potentially horrible experiences for new consciousnesses. The number of mental illnesses and diseases means it’s an extremely dangerous lottery to be playing. There’s also the fact that this new person will have to work to earn a living, in order to avoid feeling the horrible pains of hunger and cold. Though work can be fantastically fun and rewarding, joyful-in-the-extreme for some… It’s not like that for everyone. This work-requirement was never agreed-upon, no consent was ever given for this situation – it was imposed.
Immediately, one may retort that this world-view would mean stopping human pleasure too, so what about pleasure? Pleasure can only be experienced, sought and missed when conscious. When unconscious or dead, there is neither an experience of pleasure nor an experience of a need for pleasure. Pleasure can be seen – like pain – as an evolutionary ‘instruction’ because you tend to feel pleasure when you do things that historically would lead to procreation, directly or indirectly. Most pleasures only exist as the fulfilment of a biological need – a need which didn’t itself need to exist, in the first place.
A fundamental principle in our system of justice is Sir William Blackstone’s “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”. It is an expression of our desire that everyone be innocent until proven guilty. So egregious is it for us to accidentally cause suffering, that we’re willing to sacrifice the positive feeling (the satisfaction of condemning) to avoid the chance of wrongful punishment. Taking that same respect for suffering into account, we can similarly say that it is better that (unnecessary) pleasures are missed… than that (unnecessary) suffering is experienced.
We don’t feel urgently obliged to have lots of children in order to create pleasure experiences. “Quick, we need more pleasure!” – not happening.
Whereas, if there was a suffering experience (such as a genetic configuration guaranteeing a couple’s offspring would have a painful short life and then die)
…most of us would feel it is very important for that couple not to procreate. “Quick, prevent that suffering from happening!”
Preventing suffering is more urgent for us than seeking pleasure. If you agree, you may also find you agree with Anti-natalism.
Antinatalists think it would be better that consciousness – and therefore suffering – did not exist, and that there would be nobody to miss out on the pleasures. Yes, that means an advocacy of voluntary human extinction in the long-run, but why is this so horrendous? This doesn’t preclude continuing your life once you’re already alive. Since you’re already alive, why not try to enjoy the pleasures nature has set-up for you? Try not to cause suffering experiences for other sentient beings while you do it, though.
So, that is how this author sees Antinatalism, I hope you find the content on this site thought-provoking, amusing and please join us in trying to limit further suffering!