The Burden of Proof

Interesting discussion with my sister.

It’s no secret I’m morally opposed to the creation of new life. Everyone who knows me and even most who don’t know me but have read my letters to the editor and such know that. The way I see it it’s better to never exist at all than to exist and have any part of that existence, however small, be unpleasant (for the record: I also disagree with Tennyson, I believe it’s better never to have loved at all).

That’s when it occurred to me, however, that the burden of proof doesn’t lie with me or any of the other antinatalist philosophers or lay people. The burden of proof lies upon the pronatalist camp. It’s not up to us to definitively prove that non-existence is better than existence, but rather it is their task to definitively prove that it is better to exist and therefore justify the imposition of life upon another new living being (life is an imposition since we were given no choice in the matter).

Alas, that is a burden of proof that is impossible to meet. Simply being Pollyanna-ish and saying “well I’m glad to be alive” doesn’t cut it. That’s not definitive proof. That’s emotional appeal. There are just as many (if not more) people out there who don’t particularly enjoy being alive, and further even if you do enjoy being alive that’s no guarantee your offspring will.

It seems to me the safest course of action is not to impose life upon any new beings. Non-existence can’t possibly be bad. At worst non-existence has a completely neutral value. On the other hand, existence can’t be definitely proven to have any sort of positive value.


About coolchildfreeguy

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

Posted on September 20, 2014, in Antinatalism, Efilism, euthanasia, nihilism, Philosophy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. The Omniopined Psycholar

    There is no ultimate way to prove. But the thing is that if smart people don’t have kids, then even more quickly will stupid people take over. =/

    • The point being is that so long as there’s no proof you can’t assume that existence is better than non-existence.

      I also fail to see why stupid people taking over is a bad thing. It will lead to the extinction of the human race being expedited, which would be a good thing. The only solution to human suffering is extinction.

  2. Why do you assume only one side has the burden of proof? Both sides make a meaningful, positive assertion about reality.

    “There is no ultimate way to prove.”

    Actually, the antinatalist side has many rather definite proofs. The natalist side, well…

    • I think you partially misunderstood me. I think there is sufficient evidence to prove that it’s better never to have been. That said, what I was saying here is even if there wasn’t, it is up to the natalist to absolutely prove why it’s better to exist, just like it’s up to the theist to absolutely prove that god exists, rather than the atheist to absolutely prove that god doesn’t exist (even though there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate the latter).

      • No, I don’t misunderstand you, I just disagree. I think positive claims have the burden of proof. Atheism makes no positive claim and therefore has nothing to prove (atheism, from a falsifiability standpoint, is an empty claim). Natalism and antinatalism both make positive claims about reality.

  3. It’s been a while since I have seen an antinatalist! I must’ve either recently followed you, or simply missed you in my feed… Greetings!

    You’re right, the burden of proof is impossible to meet. Proving just about anything is. All one has to do is deny the premise. Logic can not help us. Epistemology, in all forms, eventually become circular. Knowing anything is an eternal uncertainty. The past does no preclude the future necessarily. And so on and so forth.

    The discourse is fun though. The lack of being able to achieve knowledge with any certainly need not prevent the dialogue from continuing. However, one set in their perspective will only lead to bashing against the same wall over and over. Going full circle, than crashing back.

    So I wonder, are you persuadable and open to the possibility of seeing otherwise?

  4. If you had never been brought into existence, you never would have had the chance to decide you didn’t want to be brought into existence. Once, I regretted being born. But I found light. I’m glad I went through the shadows. I’m glad I didn’t kill myself. I’m glad I exist.

    • The issue being that if you don’t exist you don’t ever suffer. It’s better to avoid pain than to experience pleasure.

      • Actually, I think I would differ from you on that, although i think our fundamental worldview is different. If there is a reason for my suffering, I can endure almost anything, I’ve found. For example: childbirth. Why in the world would so many women choose to endure 9 months of feeling gross and fat, at the best, and near death at the worst, go through some of the most excruciating pain in their lives, and then stay up nights feeding and caring for an ungrateful, screaming whelp? They could avoid that pain. But they don’t. Because it has meaning. It has a point. Idk, those were just my random thoughts. I rarely get to talk to somebody like you, with less of a filter, ha ha, not afraid to think about things. 🙂

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