Thursday, 29 December 2011

Natalists; You hold the burden of proof!

I was thinking recently about death, again, and reasoned that, just like how a lot of atheists believe that the burden of proof rests with Christians, as the natural state of affairs is non-belief in any deity, the burden of proof rests with anyone who wishes to commit suicide, since although eventually we all do die, living is the norm. If you have no evidence that death would be better for you, then you must keep living, simply because the world is innately biased so that you will stay alive, not in a Schrödinger's cat-like state between living and death, if you are undecided as to whether you should live or die. And the same thing, I think, is true with regards to natalism and its nemesis. People do not naturally exist. Children are not brought to parents by storks, whether they want them or not. Babies do not exist unless we make them exist. So I think, to an extent, we antinatalists have never really needed to convince anyone of anything (if we lived in a world filled with androids, that is). The ball has never been in our court, as it were. If you wish to bring a child into this world, then everything rests upon you to prove that it is a good thing, for if you do not choose to have a child, no such child would be in existence - that is the natural state of affairs, the world is biased in this way.

The problem with this is, what counts as proof that children should be brought into existence? Well the usual manner in which we decide whether an action is good or not is to simply consult our emotions. But a human life, a human life that does not belong to you, is a lot more important than that. So no, I don't think you can use a selfish reason in place of a real argument here. You have to turn to that which humans SHOULD generally use for all things important, negative utilitarian moral reasoning. Are you reducing the total suffering of the world via this action? Possibly, since that child could become a moral paragon of virtue. But the more likely outcome is that the total suffering of the world will actually increase, via stress, boredom or general ill-feeling - in which case your proof for having a child being a good thing has gone out the window.

Again we prevail. Huzzah! But if any economist or 'rationalist' of Bryan Caplan's ilk does read this blog (which I sincerely doubt), do be prepared to either suffer an outright rejection ("Everyone thinks being born is a good thing so the burden of proof lies with you!") or reasons that go against negative utilitarianism (despite how ordinary utilitariansim has some weird consequences - like allowing humans to be tortured for the greater amusement of other humans). But you should be used to that by now.


  1. Yes yes yes - this is the huge change that has happened over the past few decades! We may no longer deny responsibility for having children - they don't "just happen." Reproducing is now undeniably a choice, conceiving a child a volitional act.

    This explains, to me, a great deal of why religious people find it necessary to pretend that children are still a gift from God and "just happen," and that birth control and abortion are a violation of the natural order. If children are a choice, who can justify bringing one into the world where he will likely end up in Hell?

  2. The same analogy can be drawn with religion. Why should the burden of proof be on the non-believer? The latter makes no claims that are obviously outrageous, whereas the believer does. Yet the non-believer is obliged to defend his or her position as if they were making preposterous claims. Yet another indication of how our brains are hardwired by the DNA tyrant to provide illusions that will sustain its pointless existence.

  3. The burden of proof rests on the natalists for a few simple reasons

    1. Moral Grounds - Nobody can ask the potential existent if they want to come into this kind of existence, nor can the potential existent grant permission to their prospective parents to bring them into this world.

    2. Practical reasons - Feelings aside, why have children if our extinction is inevitable (via the Universe's entropy, if nothing else)? Eventually, no evidence of our existence or accomplishments will remain, nor will there be others to remember them. It's like a lightning bolt from the eternal perspective - the universe is here one moment, gone the next. Then - nothing.

  4. Sadly, the burden of proof, while eminently logical, is unlikely to be relevant in anything but debates and logical arguments... it doesn't really convince anyone of changing their minds.

  5. "Possibly, since that child could become a moral paragon of virtue."

    Spot on. Most people even believe this. They don't see procreation as a lottery or something similar. Disgusting.

    Most people are just average, and it is highly likely one's own child will be as well. Though parents, deluded as they are, think that their child is somehow special, very intelligent or talented and all the other bullshit. It's all a pile of lies and delusion. Lies! As inmendham would've said. But here I am, suffering immensly from meaninglessness, mental illness, boredom and a freakishly low IQ & penis.