Antinatalism is a philosophical locus that assigns a negative significance to birth. It argues that people should shun away from procreation because it is morally wrong. Some of the articles and books are written about antinatalism have used various ethical foundations and to argue. Some of the earliest surviving formulations that argue that it would be better not to have been born come from ancient Greece. This takes us to the origin of antinatalism. This term is used to oppose natalism and pro-natalism and was used by Theophile de Giraud in his book "The Art of Guillotining Procreators." In religion, Buddha positions his suggestions in the sophistic style of his age. He argues that if the only man could know the suffering that he is adding for his acts of giving birth, he would cease from the reproduction of children (Benatar, 2018, 12). According to him, this would discontinue the operation of getting old and demise.
According to Marcionites' teaching, people should oppose and abandon the Yahweh's quotes concerning the good God of mercy. Marcionites thought that the real world is an evil creation of angry, jealous, and cruel Yahweh. The Encratites observed that birth leads to death and argued that people will only concur the death if they stop procreation. The Manichaeans, Cathars, and Bogomils see procreation as an instrument of an evil god or an imprisonment element that causes people's suffering. David Benatar, one of the most pessimistic philosopher believes that life is so bad and so painful that people should stop having children for compassion. His argument is that when people try as much as hard to prevent their children from suffering from the uncertainties of this world, they forget that the only sure way to prevent them from suffering is by not giving birth (Kagan & Shelly, 2018, 7). In Benatar's view, giving birth is intrinsically cruel and being irresponsible because of the sufferings of the world and badness nature of the life.
Some of the ethical questions that arise from these arguments include; why should people's lives be condemned after birth? Why should we condemn giving birth and we were born? Why is it unethical to continue our family lineage? And what should happen to the unborn babies who are in the development stages?
Antinatalists are right that the world is characterized by so much pain and uncertainties. However, they should also have thought of what other people think about life. It depends on one's beliefs according to life after death. Those who have faith that they will live again after death enjoys life and do not fear death. They seem to appreciate that while in the world, one must suffer as there is another world that one goes after death that there will be no more suffering. Most of the people would say that they are glad to be alive. Through the magic of hedonic adaptation, even the most desperate people would not want to die and would want to have children and continue with their lineage (Vaughn & Lewis, 2015, 15). Even when one threatens to kill some animals, they tend to hide or threaten to kill a person because they know that the gift of life is way better than non-existence.
According to Thomas Ligotti's theory of terror management, he argues that humans are equipped with unique cognitive abilities beyond what is necessary for survival. These abilities include; self- consciousness, symbolic thinking, and perception of themselves as temporal beings aware of their limits and bounds in their lifetime. The desire to live alongside our awareness of their inevitability of death triggers terror in us. If we conquer the fear of death, we would be motivated to live without thinking about what we lack or why we suffer. To escape fear, we should build a defensive structure around ourselves to ensure our symbolic or literal immortality (Helm et al, 2018, 219). This would enable us to see the positive side of a meaningful universe and to focus on protecting ourselves from immediate external threats.
People's behaviors indicate that they are glad to live. After all, people do not want to live a miserable life. People have been taking their lives with or without suffering. A certain percentage of those who took off their lives left letters indicating that it is because of the suffering of this world. However, most people do not even leave a message to explain why they have decided to take such an action. Another big percentage also took their lives because they wanted to know the meaning of being alive but they could not get answers from the world. This shows that people have different reasons for being alive (Benatar, 2015, 1). It is only a small percentage that opposes and do not appreciate their existence in this world.
Anti-natalists might say that it is wrong to conceive more human beings unless they consent beforehand which is possible but again it is impossible to say it is okay to give birth unless you refuse consent beforehand. This suggests that it is time to invoke hypothetical consent. According to consequentialism moral theory, a person's judgement is based on his or her rightness or wrongness of his conduct. This theory argues that a morally right act will always produce a good outcome. In this theory, the moral worth of an action is determined by its potential consequence without considering the set written laws. Therefore, it can be translated that people suffer because they do what is wrong. They lack the importance of living because they are in the wrong lane. Therefore, they need to find where they go wrong. After that, they may appreciate life.
Deontological ethics suggests that the morality of an action should be based on whether an action done is right or wrong as opposed to the consequences of an action. It I a duty based ethical theory and commonly contrasted to consequentialism. It suggests that if everybody follows what is right, there would be no much suffering. According to this theory, work is considered worthy only if the checklist is completed. Using this theory, less time is used to decide what is wrong and what is right (Rulli, 2016, 315). However, this theory fails to address the fact that there are consequences of the decision made under this approach.
Consequentialism and deontological ethics are normally contrasted in that deontology are rules which moral duty are central and decides what is morally right or wrong in reference to one's conduct. It is also contrasted to virtual ethics that aims at the character of the agent rather than on the nature or consequences of the act itself.
However, they are some people who argue that these two theories are not essentially equally fashionable. For example, Scanlon says that people's rights are measured as deontological and can simply be warranted with reference to the consequences of abstaining those rights (Dennehy & Raymond, 2016, 253). Additionally, Robert Nozick contends for a consequentialist theory but incorporates inviolable side constraints that limit the sort of actions a person is permitted to do.
According to the theories discussed above, it is not morally right to oppose procreation. All of us has a different reason to live. Some of us would like to impact other people's lives and make the world to look beautiful. We should enjoy the gift of life and make a lot out of it. I would also suggest that those religions that support antinatalism to understand their purpose in life. Everything has a consequence and so is their decision. It is ironic to see that they would like their lineage to continue but are against reproduction. It would be good to let an individual think independently about this issue and make his or her own decision. The unborn also do not know how it feels to be alive. We have the power to make them experience their stay in this beautiful world.
Benatar has a lot of objections that opposes natalists views on life. He argues that many people think that the best experiences in life are to have people who love you love and you love them back, beauty, and learning new things. Benatar replies to these claims by saying that there is too much pain in the world than there is the pleasure to feel good. He adds that pain lasts longer than happy moments. There is a chronic pain but there is no such a thing as chronic happiness.
Benatar also argues that a person who has never been to this world would not know the problems attached to it. According to him, the absence of good wouldn't be bad. All the suffering could be over without a new person being born after the currently living people die. Some people argue that talking of pain and pleasure misses the point. On the other hand, Benatar replies that indeed human life is cosmically meaningless. He also rejects that views of natalists that struggle and suffering can make people notice and appreciate the meaning of existence.
According to Kantian views on procreation, a human being should not be used as a means of termination but always an end in himself. Benatar argues that a person can be born because their parents need to have a child but not for his or her own good. Therefore, Kant's recommendation to Benatar means that we should not give birth because we are making them suffer for no reason. Heiko Puls claims that Kant's contemplations on parent responsibilities and human reproduction, in general, imply influences for an ethically acceptable antinatalism.
According to negative utilitarianism, minimizing suffering is more important than maximizing happiness. According to this theory, there is no ethical obligation to give birth to a child even if we can predict that his or her life will be full of happiness. It also points out that it is morally right to decide not to give birth if it can be predicted that it will be ill-fated to live. However, he differs with Narveson's conclusion that; if it can be predicted neither that the child will be ill-fated nor that it will bring disutility upon others- there is no obligation to have or not to give birth.
Another author called Karim Akerma suggests that people should not be giving birth because as he observed, the precious things in life do not reimburse for the bad things. This means that having a long period of happiness is good but having a short period of sadness takes away the happiness one had for a very long time. Bruno Constestabile quotes a story of whereby there was a city of Omelas where there was the good luck of its residents that dependent on the grief of one juvenile. The child was tortured in an isolated place and could not be helped. Most people in the city accepted this scenario but the rest did not agree with it. Those who did not want to be associated with it moved away from the Omelas. Bruno uses this story to draw a point that for Omelas to transpire, the child had to suffer. According to this story, antinatalists are the people who moved away from the Omelas who are opposed to a world that one has to suffer in order to live. He concludes that all happiness is not able to compensate for the dangerous suffering of even single person.
On the issue of abortion. David Benatar argue that one was born and came to existence in a morally relevant sense and thus an abortion is moral if a fetus becomes sentient. He refers to EEG study on brain and the pain perception of the fetus which states that fetal unconsciousness arises after 28 weeks of pregnancy after which it can feel pain. On the same issue, Karim Akerma says that fetus is organisms that do not have mental properties and that a living being starts come to exist when it comes to conscious.
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