Thoughts on Antinatalism Part 3: Over Population + Feminism + Burden of Proof + Hierarchy

In this post I will be addressing the four other arguments Tremblay presents in the second part of his The case for antinatalis The case for antinatalism

  • Argument 3) “Global resources arguments”

Tremblay argues that creating new people has negative effects due to the additional strain on the economy, increased use of recourses and inevitable environmental damage. He writes ” the more people we have, the less we can feed them, and thus having children at the same pace we are having them today will eventually lead to global disaster.”

I completely agree and although I am still less confident than I would like to be on the relative threat of overpopulation compared to other large scale problems I believe that is should be a serious concern. It is one of the reasons that I support Weak Antinatalism which as I defined early in this series is the belief that it is wrong to create new people right now. But it seems possible that at some point in the future this will no longer be the case. Unlike the previous two arguments that seem to apply to the act of creating new people regardless of circumstance, this argument only applies in a situation where resources are limited. In a technical sense resources will always be limited, but it seems it seems possible that they will be practically limitless at some point in the future.

Also this is a side point but Tremblay also writes that creating new people causes ecological damage. I agree but I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing. I will be writing about this more in the future, but there are strong arguments that nature has negative value to the existence of Wild Animal Suffering. If this is the case than ecological damage could be overall positive.

  • Argument 4) “Feminist arguments”

Tremblay argues that from a feminist perspective creating new children is negative because of the harm it does to women, that childbirth in a large strain on women and that it reinforces harmful gender roles. I agree with a lot of what he says but I don’t want to engage with this argument at this time because it would require derailing the conversation on antinalism to talk about gender equality, a subject that Tremblay and I most likely disagree on. So I will not fully respond to this argument, at least not now.

  • Argument 5) “Burden of proof argument”

Tremblay argues that the burden of proof should be on the natalist rather than the antinatalist because the natalist is making a positive claim, that creating new people has a positive value.

I have some issues with the concept of burden of proof, which I will talk about in a future post, but even if we accept it as valid, it seems that the antinatalist is also making a positive claim, namely “creating new people has negative value” The burden of proof seems to apply to both positions, and in fact any position except “I make no positive claims about the morally value f creating new people.”

But I do agree with Tremblay that it is impossible to convince someone that they should have different values than they do. But it is possible to change what someone believes there value. If someone value human life but it extremely racist and thing one group of people aren’t human, then by changing there belief about what a human is we can cause them to value a group of people they previously didn’t appear to value. This is the reason that I engage with people who seem to have different values to me.

  • Argument 6) Anti-hierarchy argument

Tremblay’s final argument is that creating people unavoidably creates a hierarchy. Again this is a whole other conversation but I don’t view all forms of hierarchy as immoral, but rather think that the morality hierarchies should be judged case by case based on their positive and negative effects.

So it seems that most of these arguments I either agree with or think it would be unproductive to engage with, so overall this post isn’t that useful. But Tremblay and I have been having a productive conversation in the comments section of the last post so hopefully that will continue. My next post will be outlining an idea thay may allow us to accept antinatalist conclusions whithout them leading the extincion of the human race.

7 thoughts on “Thoughts on Antinatalism Part 3: Over Population + Feminism + Burden of Proof + Hierarchy

  1. Francois Tremblay

    To be more specific about the hierarchies business, there is what I call the Chomsky Principle, which states:
    ‘[T]he basic principle I would like to see communicated to people is the idea that every form of authority and domination and hierarchy, every authoritarian structure, has to prove that it’s justified- it has no prior justification… And when you look, most of the time these authority structures have no justification: they have no moral justification, they have no justification in the interests of the person lower in the hierarchy, or in the interests of other people, or the environment, or the future, or the society, or anything else- they’re just there in order to preserve certain structures of power and domination, and the people at the top.’
    So Chomsky would kindof agree with you there, insofar as he wouldn’t reject all hierarchies out of hand, although he sees the scope of what is currently justified as extremely limited. I agree with him on this.
    This would obviously include natalism. Children are not born for their own interests, they are born to further the interests of the family structure and the nation-state.

    “I have some issues with the concept of burden of proof, which I will talk about in a future post, but even if we accept it as valid, it seems that the antinatalist is also making a positive claim, namely “creating new people has negative value””
    Okay, fine, but I would say this claim is justified by the Benatar Asymmetry.

    1. hopefullythishelps Post author

      “Okay, fine, but I would say this claim is justified by the Benatar Asymmetry.”

      I remember reading your post about Bentar’s Asymmetry but forgot it when writing my previous posts on antinatalism, I will make a post directly addressing this argument.

      1. Francois Tremblay

        Okay, but again what does that have to do with the topic? I thought you were arguing FOR antinatalism, just not for human extinction. Are you arguing against antinatalism now?

      2. hopefullythishelps Post author

        I am arguing for Weak Antinatlaism, rather than Strong Antinatlaism, a distinction i make in the first part of this series. I support Weak Antinatalism (that we shouldn’t create new people right now) mainly because 1) the resources used to raise the person could be better used helping improve the lives of better existing people and 2) by creating an new person instead of adopting a currently existing person, you are causing all the suffering that child will experience because it wasn’t adopted by you.

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