Viewpoint: Is having children immoral?


[Editor’s note: David Benatar is a professor of philosophy and head of the department of philosophy at the University of Cape Town, where he is also the director of the Bioethics Centre.]

Is it really necessary that children are born with congenital abnormalities, that thousands of people starve to death every day, and that the terminally ill suffer their agonies?

Asking whether it would be better never to have existed is not the same as asking whether it would be better to die. There is no interest in coming into existence. But there is an interest, once one exists, in not ceasing to exist.

Homo sapiens is the most destructive species, and vast amounts of this destruction are wreaked on other humans. Humans have killed one another since the origin of the species, but the scale (not rate) of killing has expanded.

If any other species caused as much damage as humans do, we would think it wrong to breed new members of that species. The breeding of humans should be held to the same standard.

Rearing children, whether one’s biological offspring or adopted, can bring satisfaction. If the number of unwanted children were to ever come to zero, anti-natalism would entail the deprivation of this benefit to those who accept the moral prohibition on creating children. That does not mean that we should reject anti-natalism. The reward of becoming a parent does not outweigh the serious harm procreation will cause to others.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Kids? Just say no

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