(Attempted) Refutations of Antinatalism

Many people on this site and my main blog have made miserably failed attempts at refuting antinatalism. I say miserably failed because not one of them is a logical refutation. Here’s is a summary of some of the attempts to refute antinatalism I’ve gotten, and every last one of them falls into one of two categories:

“I’m happy to be alive.” Sorry, but that’s not logical. That’s emotional. When it comes to constructing a logical argument, personal emotion is, shall we say, irrelevant. There are times I’m kind of glad to be alive too, but that doesn’t change the fact that I still believe it would have been better never to have been born.

“God said ‘be fruitful and multiply.'” Well, two problems with that: 1) you haven’t proven beyond a shadow of a doubt your god/gods of choice even exist, and 2) that’s still not a logical refutation, but a religious one. Of course, we know with religion logic goes out the window, but that’s beside the point.

Either one of these arguments fails to construct a logical refutation, and it’s easy to see why. It fails to state any sort of necessary premises and draw a natural conclusion from these premises. It matters not if you’re happy to be alive. Had you never been born you wouldn’t have known what happiness was (which is neither here nor there), but most importantly you’d have been spared suffering of any kind. It doesn’t matter if life is 99.9% pleasure and 0.1% pain, it’s still better never to have been brought into existence because of that 0.1% pain. The 99.9% pleasure is completely irrelevant and has no value in determining the value of existence vs. non-existence. Only pain and suffering have any weight. This asymmetry between pleasure and pain provides the logical framework for antinatalism and makes it easy to see why antinatalism is the only logically consistent conclusion.


About coolchildfreeguy

Childfree guy living in Mexico City. Professional pilot by day, all-around fun guy by night.

Posted on April 8, 2013, in Childfree, Life, Parenting, Philosophy, Religion. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I am childfree, and I still don’t see why only suffering should be considered in this decision. Seems a little bleak! If happiness outweighs pain, why shouldn’t that be taken into consideration? (I am childfree for practical reasons, e.g. finances and a fondness for sleep).

    • It’s not your own suffering that antinatalism is concerned with per se. It’s the suffering that potential people would otherwise go through if they were brought into existence. Antinatalism assigns a negative value to birth, essentially saying it’s better never to be born (and that goes for all of us, not just the childfree or the parents or whoever).

      I agree that one’s own pleasure is a large part of why people choose to be childfree, and it definitely is legitimate. The suffering I speak of is the suffering one’s offspring will have to endure should they be brought into existence.

      I recommend Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence by David Benatar for a more in-depth look at what I’m talking about.

  2. Not to mention that life is futile and you essentially introduce a need that never had to exist. By the way, you mentioned a “main blog”. So is this your side blog then? Where is the main one? Thanks

  3. You can’t simply assert that. You have to argument why pleasure has no value and suffering and pain have value when determining if a life is worth creating.

    • Because, in the case of nonexistence, there is no one to be deprived of the pleasure. Pleasure only matters to a person being deprived of it, e.g. it’s no great tragedy that there’s no pleasure on the moon.

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