Thursday, 1 December 2011

An antinatalist FAQ

I'm sure someone has done one of these already, but it shouldn't hurt to add some of the responses I generally gave to people when they started arguing with me (almost verbally assaulting me, actually).

You can't be serious, right? You just want to be different, that's it!
Antinatalists are deadly serious about their views - it isn't a joke, and it isn't a cry for attention. No one would choose to be antinatalist if beliefs were something you just wore, like clothes. There is nothing inherently attractive about antinatalism - almost all of humanity, even those who suffer more than the majority, believe life to be the greatest free lunch in the universe. Choosing not to see having babies as a duty, or as something to stake your happiness on, or as something to show the neighbours, is an incredibly hard decision. Are we better for believing this? Yes, because we can prevent suffering in the world merely by the act of ceasing to breed. Do we just want to be non-conformists? Some of us do, some of us don't. We're people, just like you.
That's the most illogical thing I've ever heard! Your arguments are stupid!
Read with an open mind, and get your values straight. If you care about your fellow human beings, you will want them not to suffer. You will want suffering to be unnecessary. In doing so, you should see that we have a large amount of common ground between us
You're just angry at the world!
Some of us are, some of us aren't. But being angry at the world does not drive you to antinatalism. Antinatalism is created from empathy, not hatred - or at least, only in the rarest of circumstances does someone believe that people should stop breeding to satisfy their own selfish urges.
Do you really want the human race to end?
Some of us do, some of us don't. This is a subjective thing. The end of the human race is merely a side-effect of taking our beliefs to their logical conclusion. Do no harm. 
You're missing the point. Suffering is a part of life, you can't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
You assume that life has inherent value - and as any two-bit nihilist could tell you, nothing has inherent value. Only the things which we decide upon collectively to have value, have value. And what the human race, in general, has decided is that  suffering is something we do not want. Suffering is something we could do without. The human race does not desire life, for they already have it. They desire an end to suffering, and this suffering can swiftly be ended with the end of breeding. Yes, this will cause an end to life itself. But as humans do not wish to do harm to other living beings, they should not in turn wish to create new living beings, as those beings will inevitably be harmed. Why? Because if they had not been created they would not have come to any such harm.
We're not responsible for what happens to our children after we've raised them! Everyone knows that.
Had those children not come into being, they would not have been harmed, and the total suffering of the world would not have increased.
What about all the good things about life? Why are you ignoring them?
We have no moral responsibility to create pleasure - or else many people in an arena watching people being eaten by lions could be declared as moral. But we do have a duty, moral responsibility - or inherent need - to reduce harm, in any way possible. And the best way to reduce harm is to stop breeding.


  1. great post. I´ll use it as inspiration to a vid in portuguese and give you credits.

    Cheers man

  2. Excellent answers. I would object to one thing, which is that you say value is entirely socially constructed. And yet you clearly value "do no harm" principles entirely apart from social construction. Am I not correct?

    I mean, value is constructed by evolution, fundamentally. I don't disagree that some values are socially constructed, and that's necessary to realize in order to criticize institutions correctly, but that's not true of all values.

  3. No problem Shadow, always glad to help spread the cause.
    As for value, I think that viewing the world objectively, as science does, is the main way to acquire truth, or at least failing that, a solution that works. And since the objective world does not actually contain values of any kind, except inside the brains of human beings, I state generally that there are no inherent values attached to things. Such as with murder - this is essentially a collection of molecules colliding with another set of molecules. No inherent value present. That's NOT to say that I am a moral nihilist. I believe that human beings, being human beings, should follow their empathetic drives above anything else, simply because while we may not agree on revenge, almost all of us agree that helping each other out is a good thing. Put simply: the universe does not care about our suffering, but we do, so we should become antinatalists.
    I agree that value is constructed by evolution, definitely. Maybe I am misunderstanding what you mean by inherent value? What I mean by it is simply value outside of the human mind, which cannot be argued to exist, or if it does exist, is completely unknowable.

  4. Nah, I don't mean value outside of the human mind. I agree that that's impossible.