1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Having kids is immoral

Discussion in 'Opinions, Beliefs, & Points of View' started by nernico, Aug 20, 2011.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. nernico

    nernico Active Member

    I've read David Benator's book "Better never to have been born: the harm of coming into existence" and no one has ever refuted his key arguments to my satisfaction. I am going to explain the main thrust of his arguments to you and then invite you to share your reactions to it.

    His argument is simple but, to my mind, devastatingly persuasive. He states that if you are born you experience both good (positive mental states) and bad (negative mental states) during the course of your life. If, however, one is never born then one won't experience any bad (pain, anxiety, existential angst etc). This is a good thing obviously. Of course, if one is never born one never experiences any positive mental states either (joy, love, sexual satisfaction etc). However, if there is nobody to experience these positive mental states I challenge any poster here to suggest how this can be a deprivation FOR THE PERSON WHO NEVER CAME INTO EXISTENCE.

    So let's look at the following analysis of therelative merits of being born as opposed to the relative merits of not being born:

    Scenario A: You are born. You experience both pleasure and pain throughout your life. You die. Pleasure experienced? Yes. Pain experienced? Yes.

    What can we say about this? We can say that being born was partly a good thing for the individual due to the pleasure experienced in his/her life (+1) and we can say that being born was also partly negative for that person because of the pain they experienced (-1) during the course of their life. So we have a (+1) and a (-1) for being born.

    Now let's look at scenario B: You are not born. You never come into existence. End of story. Pleasure experienced? No. Pain experienced? No.

    What can we possibly say about or on behalf of this non-existent person? Well, we can say that he/she never experienced (or will experience) any positive mental states. That's surely a bad thing, right? WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! Existence precedes essence. If there is no person to experience any deprivation of positive mental states how can we possibly say that a'non-person' has been deprived or robbed in any way by not having been brought into existence? I don't think we can.

    As a result of this it would be wholly inaccurate to describe the non-existence of a person as a negative thing for the non-existent person in terms of not experiencing the good things in life. Sure we can most assuredly state that being a non-existent person is not a positive thing either in terms of not being able to experience positive mental states - an obvious outcome of their not being born. However, this does not give us licence to make the opposite claim either - that somehow not being born causes a harm to the person who was not born as they would miss out on the positive things that life can potentially offer. Clearly then not being born is neither a positive nor negative thing in terms of the inability to experience pleasure. It is clearly neutral.

    Now let's look at the pain that a non-existent person avoids by not being born. He never comes into existence so he never experiences any pain. That is a good thing!(+1) But wait, I can hear you forming objections to this even as I type. Surely, you may object, if nobody is born how can the lack of experienced pain be a good thing as there would be nobody to experience the total lack of pain. Well...simply because of the fact that we can legitimately compare the suffering a person experiences in his life with the lack of pain he would have experienced if he had never been born in the first place to experience that pain. We can make that comparison I assure you. We can always say to somebody who was born: "I'm going to make you rue the day that your father ever laid eyes on your mother" shortly before torturing them to death. But we cannot say to a non-existent person (or anything else for that matter): "Suffer, non-existent person, suffer! Experience the deprivation of pleasure and weep for the lost opportunity you had to experience the wonder that life would have had in store for you if you had only been born."

    However pleasure and pain are subjective. Some people are happier and other are unhappy. Some people have more positive points than negative in their lives while others have more negatives than positives.
    However the purpose of the anti-birth is to avoid damages to people whose lives would have more negatives than positives. Morally speaking, prevent damage or injury to someone is more important than benefit a person. Pontential humans whose lives would be a happy experience would not be harmed because the state or non-state of inexistence there is no deprivation of happiness and absence from pain and suffering in the lives of people whose lives would be miserable is a good thing because no pain is preferable the presence of the same.
    In this sense procreation should be avoided in order not to harm the people whose lives would be a sad experience even if these people were still a minority.

    Ps: i am not advocating suicide and i think we who are already here can live normally but i believe the cure of human suffer is avoiding procreation.
  2. bhawk

    bhawk Well-Known Member

    This whole thing is based on the concept that negative, hurtful experiences are essentially "bad"
    Firstly to know what is bad one has to exist. Secondly, negative situations, experiences are in my eyes also positive, they are a learning tool.

    Sorry im not going into more details but tbh i really cant be arsed atm, i shall come back to this later
  3. Jelly

    Jelly Well-Known Member

    I'm REALLY interested in this, thank you SO much for posting.

    How did they come up with this? It's amazing.
  4. nernico

    nernico Active Member

    Potential kids doesnt need to learn anything with suffer.
    The view that extreme suffering is experienced by some people in the world and that some of these people regard it as a bad thing IS an objective and empirical fact.

    The aim of antinatalism is preventing unecessary harm to potential kids, unborn children arent being deprived of any joy and not being harmed by any suffer.
  5. pppqp

    pppqp Well-Known Member

    Everything you said is indisputable. You have already answered/given assertions to any opposing questions that might arise. People who have any issue against this post don't carefully read it through.

    I used to ask this kind of question before on the internet. People who disagreed just could not invalidate any of my reasoning but they kept saying irrelevant things - things that had already been installed in their head.

    Of course, having children is the most selfish and delusional thing possible.

    I will never ever want children. I disdain and feel sorry for people who have children which include my parents.

    The truth is nothing can guarantee what your child is going to be when she/he grows up. You love your child, I don't argue but your love isn't the only thing that contributes to his/her happiness. I believe that the parents of those who committed suicide didn't love their children any less than you do.

    Yes. It means that parents are in fact selfish. They only want to experience happiness (for their life to be fulfilled blah blah blah) by having children and hell with uncertainty!
  6. Sais

    Sais Well-Known Member

    I think that all you have said is based on the hypothesis that existence precedes essence, witch is perfectly rational idea. I'd be happy if I could believe it.
    But what if it's not like that?
    Also, don't think it's a matter of good vs. bad mental states lived,
    just about plain experience of this plane of existence.
    And the bigger picture is about harmony between these two types of
    mind states. By denying an essence to live here as a person, we deny the
    oportunity to realize this important goal.

    Just some thoughts.
  7. bhawk

    bhawk Well-Known Member

    pain and negativity are subjective, some people enjoy pain and the adrenaline associated with it and some people even derive sexual pleasure from pain. There is very little in life that is truly objective. And without existing the potential person can not have a chance to decide on these matters.

    It is true that the only way to avoid pain is to not exist, yet what would this world be like with no life.... It would be a barren rock floating through space without anyone or anything to appreciate it. We are part of an amazing universe and to be honest even while suicidal i do think that it is beyond a privilege to exist, to be animated matter capable of even thinking of such a subject as the one we are discussing.
  8. 1izombie

    1izombie Well-Known Member

    I don't buy the premise of this argument, that experiencing pain (any kind of pain) is a bad thing, and that it is impossible to experience a life without pain therefore it is immoral to have children, as you would be subjecting them to pain. It's far from indisputable, as I don't think pain is necessarily a bad thing, and I don't think experiencing pain in ones life somehow devalues the rest of it. As well there needs to be some quantification of the terms like happiness and morality. The argument is kinda lose and not well formed.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 20, 2011
  9. Tim.

    Tim. SF Emoti-King

    This thread made me think of the quote from Douglas Adams' "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe:"
    Seriously, this is an interesting topic and I'm interested in checking out the book.

    It seems to me that the argument described above takes the exact opposite stance on the same question when it says that avoiding suffering is good but avoiding pleasure is neutral.

    My reaction is that to the extent we can compare the suffering a person experiences in his or her life with the lack of pain of non-existence, then to the same extent we can compare the pleasures experienced with the lack of pleasure they would have experienced. Even so, I think there are lots of things to think about and most of the issues remain.

    In general, I see morality as a human construction intended to serve social needs. I'm not inclined to support a morality that requires the destruction of the species that created that morality. Of course, what I think and what is real are often at odds.

    Anyway, it's an interesting topic with a lot of different issues to think about.
  10. nernico

    nernico Active Member

    You are being selfish and delluded, for you life can be an amazing experience but for many other people life is a terrible agony and they prefer they were never born.

    You dont know what bad circunstance you can impose in an inocent childs life, your child can born with a genetic disease that will make his existence an unpleasant and awful experience etc...

    The aims of antinatalism is preventing unecessary harm to potential suffering people. Preventing harm and injury is a MORAL OBLIGATION even if we are talking about a minority.

    Potential happy kids wouldnt be harmed by not being brought into existence because the absence of pleasure isnt bad for the inexistent. They dont desire/want anything, they arent in a less better state than us. By bringing someone to existence you are just creating needs and desires that didnt exist in first place.

    Everything moves people to have kids is pure egoism.
  11. nernico

    nernico Active Member

    The aims of antinalism is minimize suffer.
    What bad consequences the extinction of human race would cause?
  12. nernico

    nernico Active Member

    The view that extreme suffering is experienced by some people in the world and that some of these people regard it as a bad thing IS AN OBJECTIVE AND EMPIRICAL FACT.
  13. 1izombie

    1izombie Well-Known Member

    hmm i find this interesting... so u said its selfish to think life has value as not everybody would agree as some people experience extreme suffering yet when you boil down the argument it is as selfish as you can get. Do you think suffering ends with the extinction of humans? do you think that human suffering i the only suffering that counts? all other forms of suffering are mute? Life is suffering but that does not devalue you the moments where we don't suffer. In fact the more we suffer the more we appreciate the moments where we are happy, and content....i still don't get where morality comes into the argument...
  14. bhawk

    bhawk Well-Known Member

    A contradiction here...some people regard it as a bad thing suggest it is SUBJECTIVE.
    If you truly believe it is our MORAL OBLIGATION to reduce suffering, go out and kill every living thing you see.....for they will reproduce, bringing future generations to the possibility of suffering.
    Your idea means that we have to exterminate ALL LIFE.... then there would be nothing to have a moral obligation.
    Suffering is subjective, cultures throughout the world put themselves through pain for a variety of reasons, i loved the buzz of getting a tattoo....yet it was pain, i enjoyed the pain.
    People who cut find a "release" in causing themselves pain. Some men pay women to stand on their bollocks....they enjoy it.
    You can not say pain is objective. the only way it is objective is to say that it is a a reaction to damaging the body.

    As already said, you seem to be equating removing negative experiences as positive yet removing positive experiences as neutral....why is this so?
    Surely the range of experiences that we feel are not clearly defined into the schizms of positive and negative, not only that but they are both equally valid, both have the same importance?
  15. Prinnctopher's Belt

    Prinnctopher's Belt Antiquities Friend SF Supporter

    Having children is immoral and should always be discouraged when you don't have the means to make their quality of life superb and with as little struggle as possible.
  16. Tim.

    Tim. SF Emoti-King

    I understand that.

    I think there are at least two questions this raises. First, is the goal of minimizing suffering the right (and/or only) one? And second, is not having any children the best way to go about achieving that goal?

    The argument as I read it mainly addressed the second question. But I and some others have differing views on the first question, or so it seems to me.
    If your only objective is to eliminate suffering, then it will be harder to see bad consequences. There are still some issues, such as the continued suffering of animals or other more intelligent life forms that might develop in the future.

    But all people do not hold the elimination of suffering as the only correct, moral, meaningful, or useful goal in the universe. If there are other objectives other than to avoid suffering, then there are many things that could be listed as negative consequences to the extinction of the human race (beautiful artwork or music lost, loss of loving relationships, the loss of technological achievements, etc.).
  17. nernico

    nernico Active Member

    We wouldnt be deprived of this good moments if we hadnt come into existence.

    You are missing my point that our moral obligation to furnish other people's life with happiness (assuming of course we even have such an obligation) is in no way, shape or form comparable to or capable of over-weighing our moral obligation to avoid causing other people unnecessary harm. Consider, for instance, the example of a pilot flying over an urban area and dropping gold bullion from the helicopter onto the streets below. Although many, perhaps even the majority of people, underneath the helicopter would benefit from such a reckless act of generosity by the pilot, this benefit would be more than swallowed up and negated by even the single incidence of someone being maimed or killed as a result of the pilot's actions.

    You talk about consistency but if you agree with me that the pilot has behaved irresponsibly then you also need to be consistent and accept that exposing some people to harm by bringing them into the world with the intention that they will benefit as a result of this is, at best misguided, and, at worst, downright immoral.

    Recognising that a potential person's happiness shouldn't enter the equation when judging whether to procreate or not is not pessimistic at all but rather recognising the value of a safeguard informed by the notion that:

    a) the absence of benefit is not a deprivation for the non-existent; and

    b) our moral obligation to prevent unnecessary suffering trumps any moral obligation (?) to engage in behaviour that potentially could be regarded as bestowing benefit upon someone.
  18. nernico

    nernico Active Member

    Supossing that some people like to be tortured that gives you the right to torture everyone? Joy is also subjective then joy isnt a REASON to bring someone to existence. It seems you have a problem to understand assymetry.

    There is moral value in not causing harm, the parent has prevented harm where there could have been.

    The child that could have came into existence, is not harmed, and this is good. I just went through the argument with semantics that passes the strawman logic-machine that does not take seriously the term "non-existing people" and rephrased it to only be person-affecting in existence itself (i.e. the parents making the right decision to not create harm where they could have).

    Yes a better state of affairs did occur because something that could have been harmed (because as common sense tells us, procreation leads to life that inevitably has harm) was in fact prevented and thus not harmed.. (Furthermore, the platform for all other harms, that is to say existence itself, will have been prevented not just one instance of harm, so even more harm than a one-off instance was prevented).

    With this same line of thinking, we can also say there was no worse state of affairs by preventing birth, as non-existence does not get deprived of the good of life. There is the asymmetry my friend. Preventing harm (by not procreating a human that will suffer) is good; preventing a human that will experience good is neither good nor bad if there is nothing actually there to be deprived of that good (there is no "thing" that knows that it is not experiencing good).


    (1) The absence of pain is good, even if that good is not enjoyed by anyone, but
    (2) The absence of pleasure is not bad unless there is somebody (an actual somebody) who is deprived by its absence.

    Thus, the onus lies on the parent to prevent harm, not to procreate good.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 20, 2011
  19. nernico

    nernico Active Member

    First other animals dont have human condition and by procreating you arent avoiding harm to other species either. We should do what have in our hands to avoid suffer to our species.

    Is difficult to understand that theres no DEPRIVATION of pleasure in the state or non-state of inexistence?

    Take two universes: Universe A and Universe B. In Universe A there is no sentient life. In Universe B there is only one individual who is suffering enormously. Now, is it better to say objectively which Universe is better? Yes, it is. Universe A is better. This fact transcends the need for there to be a conscious agent to experience this better state. The absence of pain is a ''good'' thing independently of the need for someone or something to experience this. This is why we put dogs down, this is why some people commit suicide. Because not being subject to suffering is an inherently good thing.

    Now..take Universe X and Y. In Universe X there is no sentient life whatsoever. In Universe Y there is only one sentient life-form who is just ecstatically happy all the time. Now then...is there an objective way to say which universe is better than the other? No, there isn't. The absence of pleasure requires an existent sentient being to be a deprivation. Otherwise the concept of deprivation is empty and meaningless. In Universe X there is no deprivation of pleasant mental states so one cannot cite the pleasure experienced in Universe Y as a reason why it is better than Universe X. If Universe Y was REALLY better than Universe X then you would have to explain how this is so.

    It would also be useful if you could show if it is ever possible to have a moral obligation to have children based purely on the interests of the children you are considering bringing into the world. Quite clearly it is possible to have a moral obligation NOT to have children in certain cases. What about in the other direction? Remember, we're talking about the interests of the child who may or may not have been born here, not the people who may benefit as a result of the child's birth.

    These thought experiments reveal a profound assymetry between existence and non-existence and no one has yet addressed them satisfactorily after three months or so. You can talk about learnt hormonal reactions as much as you like but those learnt hormonal reactions wouldn't have been learnt in a universe devoid of my existence and that would have been a ''good thing'' independent of my need to experience the lack of these learnt hormonal reactions. The holiday I am looking forward to this summer, however, needs to have somebody to experience the pleasure of this holiday because the lack of a conscious agent when discussing pleasure as an objective ''good'' is absurd.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 20, 2011
  20. ThornThatNeverHeals

    ThornThatNeverHeals Well-Known Member

    well lets just say that i wish to hell that i hadnt been born. I hate my parents every day for the damn curse they have laid on me, just to create pleasure for themselves and a 'playmate' for my brother (who he and i share a feeling of mutual hate and disagreement by the way)

    so screw them. Screw the world.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.