Antinatalism is the idea that human beings should stop having babies and in most cases the opinion that humans should voluntarily go extinct.
This page is dedicated to the arguments of antinatalism. There really is a lot of material to get into, and different views, like the two main views is the philantropical view that focuses on suffering (e.g David Benatar, Jim Crawford), while others focuses more on the ecological aspect of it (e.g Voluntary Human Extinction Movement).
The Antinatalism Manifesto
This is taken from the Antinatalism Manifesto. An admirable wiki project. I had plans to make a more exclusive map of the arguments, with branches and types of arguments and so on but was bummed out because it would take too much time. Luckily the manifesto has already done this! This manifesto is not written by me, so I take no credit for it. All rights go to this project.
Common Principles and Beliefs
One: Making babies ain’t good but for makers – based on philosphical and human rights concerns
As neither is confirmed that existing is preferable to non-existing , nor is it proven an (unknown) non-existence is preferable to existence, humans should cease to decide to give birth to another sentient human being, like he should not decide to deprive someone of his life, as long as the decision is not handed over by this being to someone else voluntarily, which is unobviously impossible by someone in the condition of non-existence.
As non-existing can not be thought of as an absolute nothing, (being it a logical fault to assume an absolut nothing where existence will always be somewhere around negating the absolute), nobody should be deprived from a possibly beneficial non-existence (to be thought of as more than an absolute nothing), like nobody should also be deprived of his very existance by any others will, because there should be no rights and no possibility by default to rule on occurance or absence of another human in existance, conditions both not known whether beneficial or not to whomever.
While this second case is widely accepted by the private public, Antinatalism unveiles the rights of the unborn in deep concern that existing could be a greater harm than non-existing, thus the right of the procreators to decide is ceased in the light of having no obvious reason to ground on, other than human conscienceness could experience great harms in life.
The Antinatalist chooses not to act positively in this predicament resulting in a duty not to procreate, alike he will not take somebody’s life.
Forms of Antinatalism
Taxonomy: Based on Philosophical Source of Antinatalist Beliefs
Antinatalism can take many forms, based on one’s reasons for believing in it. There are at least two basic forms: ecological and philanthropic. Some add two other forms: teleological (purpose-based, or in this case the lack thereof) and misanthropic, though whether they are independent of the ecological or philanthropic is a matter of debate. The basic forms of antinatalism are as follows.
Hedonistic: The most simple form of antinatalism is to avoid having children because of self-interest and convenience, to spare you 20 Years of responsibility for raising, financing and educating your offspring. (Corinne Maier). However, not all antinatalists agree that this qualifies as a form of antinatalism, given it is quite possible to reject procreation for yourself and at the same time not wishing for the extinction of the human species. Therefore, many see this as more a conventionally childfree lifestyle than antinatalism per se.
Ecological: Humans should stop breeding because our presence damages the biosphere. (e.g., Les U. Knight Pentti Linkola,)
Philanthropic: Humans should stop breeding to prevent other, not-yet-existent people from suffering (however one defines suffering). (e.g., David Benatar)
This suffering can take several forms, classified by which broadly defined stage in their life it occurs. Death – especially a slow, debilitating dying – is particularly undesirable, although humans tend to hate the general notion of dying, regardless of how it occurs. Suffering also exists in preceding remainder of one’s life, also undesirable. Despite suffering’s presence throughout our lives, also despite that everyone will go through it, humanity still insists on continuing to give birth to more people. In fact, humanity rarely considers the potential person’s suffering when deciding to have more children. This because the evolutionary process encoded in us a deeply-encoded survival instinct, undoubtedly the product of our DNA and our brain architecture. Barring the special cases of “heroic sacrifices”, suicide, and other situation-specific exceptions, we are “hard wired” to try to survive at all costs. It’s true that some (perhaps many) people’s lives are not terrible enough to make them wish they never existed. Yet, some lives are, in fact, terrible enough to render them “better to have never been” (to use David Benatar’s words). Now we approach the crux of the issue. The central problem with childbirth centers on three facts: (a) generally, we cannot accurately predict whether any person’s future life will actually be worth living (b) likewise, we cannot predict whether any not-yet-existent person will agree to the rules of the “game of life”, and (c) the inability to give consent to be born or for the prospective parents to ask for the potentially existent person’s consent. Due to these factors, one can reasonably think childbirth problematic. This is precisely what philanthropic antinatalism states.
Theological Antinatalism: This is a special case of philanthropic antinatalism because it’s likewise a special case of the inability to predict how one’s life will turn out. Simply put, we cannot know whether any one person will experience a terrible afterlife. In particular, this is relevant to Christianity and Islam, but the Hindu faiths also warn of unpleasant consequences if one lives their life in a way unpleasant to their deities. These antinatalists hold that the only way to guarantee their children will not have such a terrible fate after their earthly passing is not to have these children in the first place.
In addition, there are at least two other forms, which may or may not depend on any one or both of the above for their relevance, if not outright truth
Teleological: Because human existence (and that of life in general) will come to an end one day anyway – through the “heat death” of the universe if by no other way -there’s no point in procreation; .
Misanthropic: Humans don’t deserve any more childbirths because human nature is too objectionable in too many respects.
Some may see the latter two as independent of the matter of general human suffering and/or ecological concerns. Others say that both purposelessness and human-induced evils are problems only to the extent that we suffer from either of them, thereby rendering these bases’ relevance, if not truth, dependent upon one of the latter two (especially the philanthropic reason). Other forms of antinatalism, which may or may not fall under either philanthropic nor ecological are:
“Tautologismic”: Some Anthropology explains consciousness as imposed on us by an vigorous reproducing DNA , conciousness itself leading to sometimes unbearable self-reflection. ( Peter Wessel Zapffe)
Transcendentalistic: Humans have lost their connection to the spirits of their relatives, the other outcomes of evolution and therefore lack the respect to other lifeforms and fail consequently.
Historicalistic: History has evolved in such a tragical and deviated manner, the cultural and individual concepts show such unbridgeable gaps between humans and societies, that there is no rescue for both anyhow, and the origins of sanity will thereby not be able to be uncovered. (E.M. Cioran)
Individualistic: The prideness of the individual revolts against the imposing of procreation by trying to improve the own failure (Cioran).
Spiritual: Man is not capable to accept the revelation of freedom, gods promise and he is therefore bound to a minute hope. (Concept is from Shestov, though he was most probably not an antinatalist)
Mythological: Gods wishes to escape his cave consequently led to his own negation by becoming the world , which is therefore to crumble away in time, leading consequently to the suicide of the creator of this concept, Philipp Mainländer.
Religious: Some religions did not encourage breeding, like Catharism and Shakers only mentioned as an example. Distinguished from theological antinatalism in that (among Shakers, at least) “sexual impurity” itself is seen as a grave and serious sin, totally aside from concerns for the child’s future spiritual state.
Taxonomy: Based on Extent or Degree of Agreement With Antinatlism
1: Pronatalism. “All reproduction is morally innocent (or morally required).”
2: Situational context-dependent antinatalism. “Everybody should have babies except starving people in the third world, drug addicts, and AIDS patients.”
3: Universal context-dependent antinatalism. “Our world is so bad that no one living in it should reproduce; but if things got much better, it might be okay.”
4: Pure antinatalism. “No beings should ever be brought into existence if they will suffer at all – which they will.”
Existance and Non-existance
Starlight [the points of light all over the sky] asked Non-entity, saying,
‘Master, do you exist? Or Don’t you exist?’
He got no answer to his question, however, and looked stedfastly to the appearance of the other, which was that of a deep void. All day long he looked to it, but could see nothing; he listened for it, but could hear nothing; he clutched at it, but got hold of nothing. Starlight then said,
‘Perfect! Who can attain to this? I can (conceive the ideas of) existence and non-existence, but I cannot (conceive the ideas of) non-existing non-existence, and still there be a non-existing existence. How is it possible to reach to this?’
Taken from the Antinatalism Manifesto