Sunday, September 12, 2010


IMPORTANT: Click on this link  before you read this post
So far as I know, Antinatalism assumes as true at least one of the following four claims. Keep in mind that despite the harsh tone of each view, all such views still allow one to be every bit as firmly opposed to murder, genocide, or otherwise involuntary cessation of human life as to human reproduction.

a) Humans have no more moral entitlement to live than any other species and possibly even less so, given that human existence threatens the existence of other species and even the ecosystem in general.

b) It’s more important not to suffer than it is to exist. That definitely includes the suffering from the knowledge that you will die one day, if not death itself.

c) If one has no freedom beforehand to choose whether or not to be born, then it's better to never be born in the first place.

d) Our capacity for evil is so deeply coded into our DNA that we can't come even close to eliminating it.  Therefore, we deserve to go extinct.

The opposite claims are

a) Humans are at least as entitled to exist as other species, perhaps even more entitled.

b) It’s more important to have life than it is to avoid suffering (at least in the overwhelmingly vast majority of cases), even if suffering is an inevitable part of our existence and/or that our living existence must end in the death.

c) It’s more important to come into existence than to be denied the opportunity to exist simply because we find the world, our day-to-day living, or even life disagreeable (though even in this case people often do put limits on this one, heritable horrible diseases among them - especially if it's know the disease creates great suffering or hardship).

d) Humans, imperfect as they are, continue to morally self-improve over the millennia. Therefore, they definitely deserve a living existence.

As far as I presently know, all such positions in both lists (i.e., the claims and their opposites) are ultimately either false or insufficiently provable. That renders the claims faith-based more than anything else, and thus ones you have either take or leave. It seems to me that what you take or leave ultimately depends on one simple matter: how many types of pain and suffering (whether physical or mental) do you think we can render repairable, bearable, or trivial (especially the most anguishing types); namely through developing new values, new modes of societal organization, and new technologies?

I have argued extensively in favor of points (b) and (c) in the first list, extensively so where it concerns non-consent to birth and the inevitable consequences of living in this world, for I consider this issue the ultimate clincher in favor of antinatalism.  Any anti-antinatalist or pro-natalist seeking to overthrow the consent vs. consequences issue with rationales that are ultimately based in neither in survival instinct bias nor (if religious) in gambling with the future spiritual well-being (i.e. saved or unsaved, to use Abrahamic concepts) will have a difficult task on their hands.

However, there's always the theoretical possibility I could be wrong despite my detailed speculations about this matter.  After all, if the human experience teaches anything, there's always more evidence around the corner. If you’re an antinatalist based on any one of the four points in the first list, then you have to admit that humans and humanity have show a surprising flexibility in the past, flexibilities that drastically reduced by magnitudes a great array of sufferings that each stage of advancement inevitably bestows upon us (e.g, agriculture at first increased disease and reduced our nutritional intake; yet we eventually learned to reverse those down sides, as evidenced by our longer life spans and increases in stature – bellweathers for a person’s health). Everyone knows the new values, modes of societal organization, and technologies that came about since the first humans arose in Africa and especially over the last several centuries, so I won’t list them here. Why cannot such trends continue into the future?

Still, if you’re a pronatalist or even anti-antinatalists (and the overwhelmingly vast majority of humanity is), then you still have to acknowledge that each of antinatalisms basic points listed above does have enough merit to invoke a serious and legitimate discussion. This seems especially true if you do not believe that all problems – absolutely all of them – can be rendered repairable, bearable, or trivial (similarly, the overwhelmingly vast majority of humanity does not believe it).

Either way, we cannot dismiss concerns by the opposing party (whichever you consider the opposing party to be) without running the risk of cheapening of another person’s quality of life or even their very life itself. That indeed would be the most contemptuous move anyone can make regarding whether it’s better “to be, or not to be”.

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