Negligence

The bringing into being of a human being is, in principle, an act with fatal consequences (->Beginning of Existence). Decisive for the moral evaluation of such an act is the attitude taken toward it by those involved. In the case of most acts of procreation we are dealing with acts of unconscious negligence: the persons involved in the act are not consciously resolved to commit a – morally reprehensible – deed with fatal consequences. The procreative partners are not consciously envisaging the fate of sickness and suffering that must inevitably overcome the child they are begetting; they repress the thought of this child’s having one day necessarily to die even though they would have been able to foresee this just in view of their insight into what must be universally presupposed of the Conditio in-/humana and ought, therefore, to have rescinded their own progenerative decision to bring themselves into possession of a child.

It is only in the cases of a very small fraction of all procreating individuals that we may proceed on the assumption of a conscious negligence (->Enlightenment of Parents): the procreating parties do indeed consciously reckon with the possibility of sickness and suffering befalling the child that they beget but trust – in an entirely unrealistic manner – that these miseries and misfortunes will not in fact come to pass once they have brought themselves into possession of a child.

Regardless of whether or not a joint decision to perform such a deed is taken, such couples constitute accomplices in an act of culpable negligence; the two persons participating in said act may be said to be acting negligently in various different combined degrees of consciousness or non-consciousness. Where we also take into account that broader milieu which spurs on and incites the procreating couple to the act of procreation, including the physicians who support and abet it, we find ourselves dealing with a broad community of culpably complicit individuals who are all participant in the act in question as an act with necessarily fatal consequences.

The German Criminal Code prescribes, in its article §222, the following punishment for the occasioning, through negligence, of the death of a human being: “Whosoever through negligence causes the death of a person shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding five years or a fine.” To the extent that the state is unwilling to penalize the creation of a human being as an act with fatal consequences assignable to other human beings as its causing or occasioning agents – or where said state, indeed, presents itself as the instigator, “fellow traveller” or aider and abettor of such progenerative acts with inevitably fatal consequences – it is incumbent on this state, by way of an atonement and indemnification which it needs to impose upon itself qua state recognizant of the rule of law, to support, as far as it lies within its powers and for the whole of his or her natural life, every one of its citizens who entered existence qua negligently begotten being facing the inevitable prospect of death, said support to extend to the provision to said citizen of a “good death”, should this be wished for. In other words: so long as the state does not foreswear and take its distance from any action as an instigator, “fellow traveller” and abettor of negligent procreation it must, in a precise and consistent further development of that inversion of natal guilt and responsibility initiated by Kant, offer to all those condemned by this negligent procreation to suffer death a basic material security (Allowance for Those Obliged to Bear Existence) as well as a death “with dignity”. This, the state’s abetment of “euthanasia” (in the term’s proper, antique sense of a “dying well”) cannot, indeed, compensate entirely for the state’s original aiding and abetting of negligent procreation (inasmuch as the former cannot reverse or cancel out the latter); it must nonetheless be looked upon as an indispensable component of humane culture and as an element of the aggregate indemnity owed by the state to its citizens.

 

Georg Hensel (1923–1996)

Georg Hensel rightly points out the fatal consequences that go hand in hand with every bringing into being of a human life: “The worst of all unpunished murders, with constant bodily harm and torture of the soul, lasts around seventy years: it is called ‘life’” (Georg Hensel, Glücks-Pfennige. Discovered by: Guido Kohlbecher)

Considered more precisely, of course, the bringing into being of a human being is not a murder, because the action of parents does not begin with an already-existing person whose existence they then put an end to. The fact remains, however, that the ->Perpetration of an Existence does indisputably constitute an act with mortal consequences provided only that, as a consequence of procreation, a human being has begun to exist.  

 

Rudolf Bayr (1919–1990)

Someone thinking in terms of a philosophical neganthropy would be obliged, nonetheless, to raise the question of whether in one regard at least – namely, with regard to the person directly concerned and affected – negligent procreation does not represent an even greater injury than does negligent homicide. Because, whereas the latter act puts an end to an existence laden with suffering, the former sees to it that such an existence begins. This, argues Rudolf Bayr, is why negligent procreation should be more heavily punished than negligent homicide: “Negligent procreation ought to be penalized in the same way as negligent homicide, only the punishment should be still heavier, since the latter puts an end to the misery, while the latter initiates it.” (Bayr, Momente und Reflexe. Aufzeichnungen. Discovered by: Guido Kohlbecher)

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