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Antinatalism...thoughts on it?

  1. Dec 15, 2016 #1
    Clearly not sustainable for the human race but I think the philosophy is tight. considered myself a non-breeder, this is one step further.

    There is a more extreme offshoot gaining popularity.
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  3. Dec 15, 2016 #2


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    In spite of everything, I am quite happy that I was born :smile:
  4. Dec 15, 2016 #3
    That's one of the first things they address, antinatalists are no more or less happy than the general population. They are not depressed or wish to die.
  5. Dec 16, 2016 #4


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    I had to look that up to see what it was all about, and low and behold it does have a name.

    Not sure what you mean by a tight philosophy.

    The only argument that picks my interest is from,
    Do no harm unto others.???
    Seems to be a circle argument about obtaining consent. By what means, other than by the individual being born and live and have experience, would that individual be able to give, or deny, consent to being born.

    Are you referring to, or including, the Euthanasia laws passed in certain countries, for the distressed, which is at the back end of the argument.
    Barring the philosophical tones, you may have come across a possible scenario for a position that society may adopt, or morph into as being the only responsible outcome of technological advance and population increase. Or is it population decrease for first world societies.

    Interesting post.
  6. Dec 16, 2016 #5
    I wasn't referring at all to euth. Euth has emerged independently and for different reasons.

    By tight I mean not full of fallacious reasoning.
  7. Dec 26, 2016 #6


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    My thoughts on anti-natalism:
    1) It goes against the nature of biological entities. They have evolved to reproduce and have evolved behaviors (and internal "mental" states) to support reproduction and ensure it happens. Natural selection has, of course, selected for this.
    2) Most kids are happy in my experience. So the earliest time you could get consent (after they are born) would most likely be a positive one.

    Joke section:
    on being a breeder:
    As a breeder, I have a boy and a girl. They seem happy enough.
    I wanted a clone and a recombinant, but the technology has been slow to develop!
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016
  8. Dec 27, 2016 #7

    jack action

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    Does it mean that if the human species destroy animal habitats, leading to the extinction of those animal species, we did good by creating an environment where less animals suffer anymore?

    Furthermore, by favoring actions that lead to the extinction of animals (and plants), we also favor the extinction of human kind, therefore reducing the amount of pain and suffering for the unborn humans.

    If the source of extinction is human, then procreating more humans will speed up the process of extinction and thus it would be the moral thing to do if we want to limit the pain and suffering in this world as fast as we can. o_O

    How would anyone know they're having pleasure if pain didn't exist? One cannot exists without the other since you need one to compare to the other to prove its existence. Furthermore, since the absence of pain would lead to the absence of pleasure, wouldn't that mean that this would eventually lead to a miserable life?

    With this line of thinking, don't we have a moral obligation to maintain a certain level of pain such that pleasure exists? :))

    I think you can find a lot of fallacious reasoning, if you push the analysis far enough.
  9. Dec 27, 2016 #8
    I agree you have constructed a lot of fallacies that have nothing to do with the actual theory.

    So to YOU in your take on it, if pleasure didn't exist we would have no way to know cancer was bad.

    Would you like some links so you know what you are talking about?
  10. Dec 27, 2016 #9

    jack action

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    I would like to hear your thoughts about antinatalism. I mean more descriptive than «I think the philosophy is tight».
  11. Dec 27, 2016 #10
    Here is a decent outline from an academic. The first few minutes is the journalist speaking.

    I can't type it better than he says it.

  12. Dec 28, 2016 #11

    jack action

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    The logical fallacy about this way of thinking is the following:
    1. There are good things and bad things;
    2. Bad things are unnecessary;
    3. Suffering is a bad thing;
    4. People that exist suffer and cause sufferances;
    5. Therefore people shouldn't exist.
    The final statement (which sums up antinatalism) is only true if you consider the four previous ones to be true. But, a lot of these points could be discussed:
    1. There are no good things or bad things, there are only things. Good and bad is a moral concept due our consciousness. But in nature - or even in the universe - there are no such things. Things are, that's it.
    2. In nature - even in the universe - it is all about construction and destruction, birth and death. But, for whatever reason, it seems that everything tends to stability (even looking at electrons and protons), i.e. everything tries to reach a state where nothing changes for as long as possible. But it seems that total stability (end of change) will never be reached. So are bad things (death and destruction) really unnecessary or just an important part of the process?
    3. Assuming there are bad things, is suffering one of them? Suffering is part of that process that restrains death, i.e. tries to keep stability, avoid change. If it didn't exists, everything would just be subjected to its environment and continuously bounce from one state to another. That is particularly true for life. Or is life unnecessary because it causes suffering?
    4. Does people that don't exist cause sufferances too? If a woman who cannot have a child is miserable, isn't she suffering from the absence of that unborn child? When China applied the One-child policy (which relates to an antinatalism philosophy), the consequences were unexpected by having people choosing boys over girls (which lead to a gender ratio disparity in future adults), abandoned children in orphanages and unregistered children (who were denied social services). So unborn children can have an effect on those who are born. Is the increase in suffering of the born children compensate for the avoided suffering of the unborn children?
    It would be fun to hear your take on this, instead of commenting a radio show.
  13. Dec 28, 2016 #12
    Good and bad might be subjective but suffering is objective. I don't think an unborn child that was never even a cell can create anything.

    No offense but I think 1-5 are a bit strawman version of antinatalism.
  14. Dec 28, 2016 #13

    jack action

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    No offense taken.

    Well, on Wikipedia (here and here), they talk about «having (or not having) a moral obligation». When morality is brought up - especially as an obligation - I assume we are essentially talking about right and wrong, good and bad. Benatar uses those exact words (good & bad) on Wikipedia. This my point 1.

    In the presentation from your previous post, Benatar literally said:
    This is the quote I used to built point 2 & 3. So this cannot be a straw man argument from my part.

    As for point 4, that is what I understood from some points of view. I can't recall if it was in the presentation as is, but on Wikipedia:
    From this, just being part of a human society means you are causing pain and suffering. Therefore my point 4 about «People that exist [...] cause sufferances».

    As for point 5, if one says (Wikipedia):
    Then you are also promoting as a corollary that «people shouldn't exist». That is what will happen if everyone chooses the "moral" and "ethical" way: People will cease to exist.
  15. Dec 28, 2016 #14
    My retort is that you appear to claim life is a necessity. How do you value one life more than another?

    Have you used all your sperm/ova to create life, why not?
  16. Dec 28, 2016 #15

    jack action

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    I would rather claim that life is. It is neither good or bad, it just is. Some people do claim that life is the best thing that ever was and that it must be preserved at all cost, i.e. it is a good thing. I think it's wrong. What antinatalism seems to claim (from what I read from this thread) is the opposite point of view, life is pain and suffering, therefore life is bad. I think it's equally wrong. The fact that one has a kid or not doesn't change a lot in the greater scheme of thing.

    Any other form of life don't even choose to have offspring. For them, things happen and they take what they get without judgment.

    That being said, I don't think you need a justification to choose either options and it is OK to be sad or happy if you don't have a child just as it is OK to be sad or happy if you have a lot of them.

    What I hate about bringing the moral issue on such a point of view is that it often leads to some people either forcing others to have children or forbid them to have children because they think they have the moral high ground. Freedom is high on my list of values and this kind of thinking is what I fear most.

    Full disclosure, I don't have children and it saddens me. So if I was forced to choose a side, I would choose the «having children is the best thing on earth», but I may be wrong. And if I'm not, I really wouldn't want to impose that point of view on anyone.
  17. Dec 28, 2016 #16
    Well I didn't breed but there was no reason moral or otherwise to it. I eventually got depressed by peer pressure that you need to have children because, because. Nobody could give anything else but lame reasons.

    I was horrified to find out how little reason so many folks put into creating life. I swear some people put more effort into choosing kitchen appliances.

    I accidently stumbled across antinatalism decades later and used it as a response and claim some moral ground.

    To be honest I do feel superior at times for not breeding, I don't know why but I definitely feel one up for it. I know childish right.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
  18. Dec 28, 2016 #17
    if the lot that contends not having children because it creates suffering is correct then they get the darwin award. Those that are left just carry on.

    If the lot not having children suggest imposing that on others who don't agree they impose suffering and are hypocrites.

    Anyway I look at it it's a daft idea that only encourages suicide which creates its own wave of suffering. Daft.

    I like the idea of life just being. It's equanimous and results in possibilities. Liberating.
  19. Dec 28, 2016 #18

    jack action

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    I'm glad that you feel like you made the right choice for yourself and I'm not the one who will put you down for it even though I don't understand your reasoning.

    But it certainly would be a dangerous path to take if you start feeling superior to others. It may lead to unnecessary confrontations, thus pain and suffering; The very exact thing you're trying to avoid.
  20. Dec 28, 2016 #19
    Definitely not evangelical about it but I don't think it hurts to voice the option and let non breeders know they are still valid citizens.
  21. Dec 28, 2016 #20


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    I will present a review of this idea as a review of a (bad) scotch: Tasting notes: hints of nihilism, ideal as a terminal beverage. Distinct flavor notes of combined dissatisfaction with life choices and moldy fruits. Pairs well with fungal cheese and a side glass of saliva. Finished in a fermented catarrh cask. Evokes a profound pining for being buried alive.
  22. Dec 29, 2016 #21
    I feel Cabrera has a naive understanding of the Universe, thermodynamics, entropy, and mathematics:

    And from a medical and biological perspective, I must argue pain is a necessary and advantageous trait: it is a survival strategy. Exposure to disease, injury, and damage is beneficial to survival: it is a selective process contributing to a robust lineage. In my personal opinion, without pain and suffering, we would grow lazy, weak, unmotivated and would have died off long before the appearance of a cortex thus never giving rise to laments about pain and suffering.
  23. Dec 29, 2016 #22
    This is so far from current reality i cant believe your serious except for maybe the absolute poorest parts of africa and east asia.

    Since science almost no babies die from sickness or weakness, clearly science has kept literally billions of people alive that would otherwise never survived infancy.

    Geez only a generation or two ago a 55 yo male was an old man close to death, now they are mid career and it has nothing to do with natural selection against disease leading to a "robust lineage" in fact its the complete opposite.

    The sick, "lazy, weak and unmotivated" (and throw in the completely physically and mentally disabled) are all but guaranteed a comfortable survival now, in fact they can flourish...and they are breeding at rates never before seen on the planet.

    This isnt Sparta.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2016
  24. Dec 29, 2016 #23

    jack action

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    I must agree with @aheight that pain is necessary and advantageous as a survival mechanism.

    Plants don't feel pain. You can tear off a leaf or cut a branch and they won't feel pain. Only the healing process takes place. Why? Because pain would be useless to a plant. It can't run away from the treat nor defend itself. It can only hope the treat will stop before it dies, which is the primary defense mechanism of large trees as it takes a very large treat to kill the tree. For small and fragile plants, the defense mechanism is easy reproduction. It doesn't matter if a plant dies, there are so many other that just begun growing around it.

    It could be the same for animals, but the facts is that they feel pain. Why? Because they can run away from danger and/or they can fight back. Pain is the alarm system. For a human, pain is crucial to its survival, as it is not that strong compare to other animal of similar size, it runs relatively slow and the reproductive mechanism to get a «fully operational» individual is probably the worst of all. Keeping the individuals we have alive becomes very important.

    Can you imagine if, when someone hit your hand with a hammer, you wouldn't feel pain? Because you wouldn't be bother, you wouldn't take it away and soon you would loose your hand. Pain is necessary and it cannot feel good, otherwise you wouldn't react quickly.

    Because of the poor child birth survival rate (and even mother survival), again, pain (emotional pain) came as a savior for the human species. Because a human life is fragile and birth so difficult, the pain suffered by the parents when loosing a child gave them the will to care and protect their offsprings at any cost. If that wouldn't have been the case, there would probably be no humans on this earth. Remember that we are the only species of the homo genus that survived.

    That being said, we might be at a point where we care too much because of this pain which is causing what seems to be overpopulation. A huge drop in population is most likely to happen at one point or another, and it won't change much in the greater scheme of things, even if only a few millions survive. But maybe only the growth will stop and the population will stabilize, maybe we will begin populating other planets. Only time will tell.

    As for death, it is also necessary for maintaining life. Life adapts itself to its environment. To do so, it needs to regenerate itself differently as time goes by. Note that I use the word «different» not «better» or «improved». What is right for today may not have been appropriated 10 million years ago and may not be soothed for 10 million years from now.

    Many people see living longer as an improvement, but is it? What difference does it really make that someone lives 40 or 80 years? On life's point of view, once an individual of any species has reproduced itself to continue the line, there is no need for it to stay alive. So there is a big difference between a life expectancy of 10 years vs 40 years, but not that much between 80 & 120 years. It is especially true for humans as their fear of living tend to increase as they get older. The more they are aware of their death and the dangers that surround them, the more they live in fear, refusing to make new experiences, letting fear getting control over curiosity. This is completely the opposite of what a child does and it prevents the individuals from adapting to their environment, thus more likelyhood of dying. It is far more easier to create a new individual to begin a new process than to try to save a single one forever.
  25. Dec 29, 2016 #24
    I think it fails practically, because such philosophies are limited to intellectual elites. On the whole I think society suffers from a lack of thinking people.

    -Dave K
  26. Dec 29, 2016 #25
    You guys with pain is good for you theory are masochists....I'm not going to no party at your place.

    Maybe you should get schools to teach mandatory courses in self harm to build character.

    Do you refuse pain medication in order to become a better human, I doubt it.
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