When it comes to winning the antinatalism debate (which, if you look at any of them, the antinatalist always wins the debate), I’ve come up with a new strategy to shut down pretty much ever pronatalist argument and use that to further imply why antinatalism is true.
Situational antinatalism is simple and profound enough that pretty much everyone agrees with it. The only ones who I have found reject it are individuals who are suffering from the most severe forms of the most common mental illness on the planet (namely religion). Basically, almost everyone I’ve ever encountered can agree that there are certain life forms that would have been better off being spared existence. Those with extreme mental and/or physical disabilities, animals raised solely for meat or other animal byproducts, among others qualify as such. There’s effectively no argument that these individuals would have been better off being spared existence. I’ve not personally met anyone who will disagree with these (though, most of them in their hypocritical ways continue to consume meat and/or animal byproducts, go figure).
That said, it is very easy to see how situational antinatalism implies general antinatalism. Given the level of uncertainty about what kind of existence awaits a potential individual, it is always best not to procreate. Nobody knows if a new, pre-sentient individual will be one of the many individuals cursed with severe mental/physical handicap. Since it is pretty much universally agreed upon that such individuals would be better off never existing, and given the fact that there is a statistically significant chance that any new individual will be afflicted with such a malady, we see that the risk heavily outweighs any potential benefit.
In short, the element of uncertainty and risk is the nail in the coffin for the pronatalist argument. Note I did not even invoke the Benatarian asymmetry here. While an elegant and watertight argument in favor of antinatalism, it’s practically impossible to convince anyone of the truth value of it. That said, when I argue for antinatalism from this argument, very rarely does the other person walk away not agreeing with me. I’ve even managed to convince my own mother of it, who has since apologized to me for bringing me into existence. No joke. Go figure, one’s own offspring turning his own mother to antinatalism. I never thought I’d see the day.
If only we could all move to Belgium. Suicide is a civil right, period, end of story. As none of us were given any choice as to whether or not to come into this world (and the fact that it would have been better never to have been born), we all have the right to leave if we so choose. I’m glad to see a government somewhere out there honoring this right.
It seems that most monotheistic religions (and interestingly enough, even most atheists I’ve met) deem suicide as an evil action. Alas, any claim deeming suicide immoral is defective.
Monotheistic religions claim that it’s an offense to god as we are the god’s creation and therefore have no right to destroy ourselves as it would be destroying god’s creation. Well, that’s OK if you’re working under the assumption that a god even exists and have sufficient evidence that god exists, but it’s still not immoral to remove something which is a harm to someone. As (1) our lives are a harm to us and (2) it would have been better never to have existed, it thus follows that if god created creation he did an evil action. Therefore god, if god exists, is evil. As such, no entity that is inherently evil has any right dictating anything about general morality.
In terms of the “new” atheism, they have all sorts of unfounded claims. They reject god or a driving uniting force but somehow make up some bullshit claim that there’s a purpose for our existence and that we should not terminate our lives because of it. Truth be told they have no more evidence for their claims of a transcendental purpose than theists have for the existence of god. As such, this claim can be dismissed as nonsense right along with the god theory.
Both atheists and theists argue that committing suicide is selfish because of the devastation left behind. I would counter this argument by saying the devastation over someone’s death is the selfishness of the grieving and is entirely their problem. They grieve because they wanted said deceased person (who died of suicide or other means, it matters not) to remain alive to please them. Let’s be honest, we never grieve a person actually dying. We grieve because they will no longer be there for us.
Lastly, psychologists will claim that suicide is a result of mental illness. Well, even if it was that’s not even relevant, but the real disturbing thing about this is what the general consensus is about mental illness, namely that we should forfeit our bodily autonomy upon being diagnosed with one of the plethora of mental illnesses people have made up out of thin air without any evidence backing them up whatsoever. That’s a slippery slope I don’t think anyone wants to go down, because what’s next? Left handers losing their bodily autonomy? I don’t even want to think about the potential implications.
Now that we’ve effectively destroyed every anti-suicide argument, we see that suicide is not an immoral action. This is not to claim that suicide is moral. Such action has a morally neutral value (i.e. it is neither moral nor immoral to commit suicide). However, suicide must be recognized as a right. As none of us were given any choice in whether or not to come into this world (rather, we were all selfishly forced into it by our parents), we should at least have the free choice to leave if we deem it the appropriate course of action for ourselves.
Which brings me to the closing point: if we want to talk about true immorality and selfishness, let’s talk about the breeder scumbags that force new people into existence and the ones who try to force people to remain alive against their wills. That’s true selfishness and immorality. Nobody has a kid for their kid’s benefit; they have them for their own. Likewise, nobody keeps someone alive against his/her will for that person’s benefit. They do so because they don’t want to have to say goodbye. It’s a fucked up world we live in, for sure.
When it comes to breeders, I somewhat understand why so many religious folk hold the defective defense that it’s morally acceptable: their vile, despicable gods command them to do it. When it comes to atheists, however, they have no sort of adequate defense whatsoever.
I still just really don’t understand how atheists (and that includes atheistic religions such as Buddhism) can justify reproduction. I’ve heard a number of defenses for it, all of which I find defective. Here are some common ones and my responses to them:
“It’s a natural desire.”
Response: So if I have a natural desire to kill people that makes it acceptable?
“With religious families having so many kids, somebody’s got to have atheist kids.”
Response: That’s rather narcissistic.
“With so many stupid people having kids, somebody’s got to have smart kids.”
Response: Sorry, but just because you’re smarter than average doesn’t mean your kid will be. Also, see above.
“Even atheists have to experience the love of a child.”
Response: So that’s a justification for imposing existence and the harms thereof on an individual who did not give his or her consent to being brought into the world? Just goes to show that having children is at least as, and probably a far more selfish choice than choosing not to have them.
“We’ll go extinct if someone doesn’t have children.”
Response: You can’t give any sort of justification for why that is an inherently bad thing. I know it might be an uncomfortable thought to you Pollyanna types, but we will go extinct one of these days, and long before the world as we know it comes to an end.
There are some others, but that’s the most common of the ones I hear. Concerning Buddhism and similar religions who believe in the ridiculous notion of reincarnation, I would argue that the only way to break the cycle (which is the end goal of Buddhism) is to stop having children and making souls be reborn. If we do that, such would effectively end the cycle of Samsara (rebirth) and force the final and end-goal state of Moksha (escape from Samsara).