Thoughts on Antinatalism Part 1: Introduction + Strong and Weak Antinatalism

This is the first of several posts I will be making about Antinatalism. First this post will be introducing Antinatalism and my position towards it, then in late posts I will be directly engaging with Antinatalism arguments and finally presenting a way that Antinatalism doesn’t have to lead to a controversial conclusion

Antinatalism is the ethical position that the creation of new (usually human) life is morally wrong. Before arguing against this belief I would like to make a distinction between two different types of Antinatalism. It may be a distinction that already exists or it may not (I don’t remember seeing someone make a formal distinction between them), and I’m not sure how Antinatalists would feel me making it, but I think it will assist in our conceptual analysis of Antinatalism.

I am going to define Weak Antinatalism as the position that creating new life in our “current situation” is immoral but that it is not immoral in principle and there could be situations in the future where it would not be immoral to create new people. On the other hand, strong Antinatalism is the position that creating new life in principle is immoral regardless of the circumstances.

A Weak Antinatalist may use arguments such as “we currently have overpopulation so more children would be bad right now” or “the resources you use to raise one child could be used to help hundreds of children that already exist” and is more likely to identify with consequentialist moral framework. A Strong Antinatalist may use, along with the previously mentioned arguments used by Weak Antinatalists, arguments such as “a non-existent person can’t consent to being created, so by creating them you are violating their rights” or “it is always morally wrong to create harm and we can never guarantee that a person will not experience harm during their life time, therefore creating new people is immoral” and are more likely to identify with a deontological framework.

(Note: an Antinatalist doesn’t necessarily think that it is never the best available option to create new life such as in situation where someone says “make a baby or ill torture the whole human population for a million years” Antinatalists might see creating new life as a negative that can be outweighed by more negative but just that they would never see it as a positive in itself)

I make this distinction partly because I think it is a real distinction that relates to different groups of arguments and different underlying ethical frameworks and partly because I agree quite strongly with Weak Antinatalism and disagree quite strongly with Strong Antinatalism. I think that in the current situation that I am in (and that people like me are in) it is extremely selfish and immoral to have children and I will be making posts defending this position in the future. But I think that there are certain circumstances (that I hope will one day exist) where creating new humans would have extremely positive value.

The Antinatalist arguments I will be arguing against in the future posts are all Strong Antinatalism and I will usually refer to them as just Antinatalists. But when it is a relevant distinction to make I will make it and after arguing against Strong Antinatalism I will make posts arguing for Weak Natalism that will cause disagreement with Antinatalists and Natalists alike.

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