T Nation

Antinatalism -- The Immorality of Procreation

Procreation is unethical, here’s why:

  1. Axiological asymmetry: Person experiencing pleasure: good. Person experiencing pain: bad. Non-existent “person” being deprived of pleasure: not bad (no one exists to be deprived of said pleasure). Non-existent “person” being deprived of pain: good. Existence: good/bad. Non-existence: not bad/good.
    Not bad/good > good/bad. Therefore, non-existence > existence.

  2. Hedonism: Intensity of pain far greater than intensity of pleasure. Duration of pain far longer than duration of pleasure. (Chronic pain exists, chronic pleasure does not). Frequency of pains (major and minor) far greater than frequency of pleasure. Life is a net negative hedonic experience. Consider two animals, one eating the other. Does the pleasure of the eater exceed the pain of the one being eaten? --Schopenhauer

  3. Entropy: life is a constant struggle against decay. Sit in a room and do nothing. You’ll starve to death. Merely maintaining baseline takes a tremendous amount of effort. Improvement, even more so. Ultimately, its pointless, because death takes everything from you in the end.

  4. Creating a sentient organism: creating a biological program that must fulfill needs it didn’t ask for, the fulfillment of which requires tremendous pain and suffering inflicted on the organism fulfilling the need and the organisms consumed for need fulfillment (e.g., factory farming – industrialized torture). There was no need for these needs to be created in the first place.

  5. Lack of self-determination: we are born in biological bodies whose attributes we have no say in: IQ, looks, health, personality (big 5 traits), hedonic set point (baseline level of well-being), etc. all determined by genetics. These attributes determine how adept you’ll be at satisfying needs imposed upon you by your biological programming and your baseline level of well-being throughout your life.

  6. Free will does not exist. Choice is an illusion, every decision you make was pre-determined. The brain decides to do X instead of Y before the thought of choosing X over Y even enters conscious awareness. This has been proven by neuroscience.

  7. Death: evolution programmed humans to fear death, deny its stark reality, and resist it at almost any cost. Yet, death is inevitable. This fact causes us great psychological distress. When you create life, you create death. In order for an organism to die, it must first be born. I do not want to impose death on my children, therefore, I will not create them.

Thank you for coming to my TED talk. I hope these revelations bring peace and joy to your life.

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I have a sentimental weakness for my child.

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I’m not sure this is sound. Do you think your life is more negative then positive? If life is on average positive, i think antinatalism falls apart.

I’d say its been a net negative so far, and there are trillions of sentient organisms whose lives are far worse than mine.

Do you think you could work for a life that is more positive than negative?

I’m not sure many other than humans are sentient. In the animal kingdom, I think it probably is a net negative for most. I think my hounds are net positive, but many wild animals live a rough life.

Sentience = ability to experience pain and pleasure.

I can work for a life that is comparatively less negative to my current situation, but I do not think its physically possible to have a net positive hedonic experience in life.

This thread makes me wish I weren’t sentient.

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That’s one definition of the term.

Has it?

I am not afraid to die nor do I deny that’s going to happen. There are things that I like about living that make me avoid easily avoidable deaths (I don’t drive cars at high speeds with my eyes closed) but otherwise I don’t think I’m resisting it. Over the past couple of years I have become more and more comfortable with the idea that I will be dead at some point.

Some people feel there is more to life than death. Some people feel there are worse things than death.

I don’t totally disagree with you though.

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If one believes that existence exploded out of nothing with no purpose, then antinatalism makes perfect sense. To keep life going, you need some kind of faith. It can be faith in a religion, a sense of “we are really just the universe experiencing itself”, or perhaps you believe that it is all just a dream within a dream. At any rate, if you believe in a purely mechanical universe that happened by chance and that’s all there is to it, I agree it would be immoral to have children.

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@fbc91 - you ever read Tom Ligotti’s The Conspiracy against the Human Race? I just had to for a class, but it sounds like you’d feel the same way he does.

Yes, I’ve read it. Needlessly complex vocabulary, but otherwise a great book. Agreed with pretty much everything he wrote.

Wouldn’t it be amoral (neither moral or immoral)?

Haha yeah, I feel like he could’ve gotten his point across in a much simpler way. And it got pretty redundant after a while, but otherwise, interesting book.

OHHH boy… this is a topic I’m quite passionate about…

To start, I personally do not want to have children. However, I believeit is biologically necessary that SOME people procreate (unless we come up with some other means for reproduction or accept eventual extinction- neither of which is implausible IMO) Part of the reason I’m okay with not having children is because I know I don’t HAVE to. There are plenty of other women who want to have children

Well, technically no. I know this is semantics, but I nearly got a B in my research methods class bc my prof would take 10pts off every time we used “prove” to refer to research
there are a LOT of studies that show an astounding range of unconscious processes, but noting is PROVEN per say. Also I think there’s a difference between unconcious processes and lack of free will. Neuroscience right now has identified a lot of these (and I’m pretty sure there’s a LOT more) but it can also find ways to overcome them. Sometimes just being aware is enough to override them → restore “free will”

What I don’t understand is why ppl would want children, especially women, given the consequences to health, career, life quality.
Whenever ppl describe life with children, it sounds like hell on earth, but when asked, they usually say that children are the “best thing that’s happened” or “I love them so much”… There seems to be an unexplained disconnect there

Note: I’m young and may change my ideas in 10-20 years.

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Maybe they feel like the potential hardships of raising children don’t outweigh the love they have for them. Maybe they don’t consider a career more important than a family. Maybe some feel that their quality of life is improved by being surrounded by (hopefully) loved ones. Maybe everyone’s health is going to decline at some point or another, and they want people there to take care of them when they’re old, and not some dreary nursing home employee.

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This is a sign of living a VERY comfortable life.

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Haha yeah. If dealing with a fussy child or argumentative teen is your biggest problem, then things aren’t too bad.

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