There seems to be a tacit agreement among antinatalists that someone is harmed when coming into existence. A closer look at the ontology of ‘coming into existence, however, seems to reveal that this might not hold. Since none of us was there before he had begun to exist, our having begun to exist cannot have made us worse off. We cannot compare (1) a state of the world which did not yet include us and (2) a state of the world which includes us and then say a harm was done to us in that very instance we had begun to exist.
The harm will follow only later unless we assume that already the very first dawning of sentience in a foetus in the womb is of a negative kind. But even then we shouldn’t say the human being was harmed coming into existence but rather: a new human being began to exist experiencing pain from the outset.
‘Coming into existence’ is a somewhat misleading expression for: ‘a new sentient being has begun to exist”. ‘Coming into existence’ does not alter the ontic status of a living being for good (as pronatalists claim) or worse (as antinatalists claim). Rather, ‘coming into existence’ changes the status of the world: from now on there exists one more being capable of suffering.
Rather than saying A SENTIENT BEING HAS BEEN FORCED INTO EXISTENCE we should say THE WORLD HAS BEEN ALTERED IN SUCH A WAY THAT ONE MORE SENTIENT BEING EXISTS.
The corresponding antinatalist imperative will read as follows: Do not act in such a way that a new sentient being begins (unless there are morally overriding other reasons).