The Accusation of “Hating Children” (Introduction Antinatalism, part 2)

“Anti-natalists are against any more children ever seeing the >Light of the World; consequently, anti-natalists are hostile to children.” So, or in similar terms, runs another formulaic accusation that is routinely brought against anti-natalists. It is a formula, however, which distorts and misrepresents antinatalism’s true concern. The argument put by antinatalism is not an argument against children but rather an argument in favour of already-existing human beings’ reconsidering and revising any decision that they may have taken to procreate. That is to say, antinatalism does not argue against real, existing children but rather argues for childlessness.

As a philosophy of non-procreation, antinatalism is not against children but rather concerned with and focussed on the suffering that children will inevitably have to undergo once they have begun to exist. The moral theory of antinatalism, indeed, derives a significant part of its motivating force from the sufferings undergone by children, making, as it does, the case that it will only be once the world has been made fit for children (and indeed for human beings in general) to live in that it will become potentially morally defensible to act in such a way that yet more children begin to exist. As long as the world falls short of that high standard of “fitness for human beings to live in” that we see established and portrayed in many of the >Utopias und Ideas of Paradise that have arisen again and again in the history of the human imagination, the right thing to do – so argues the moral theory of antinatalism – is to refrain from procreation (>Priority of Adaptation to the World). If it were possible, indeed, to bring to realization overnight a utopia of prosperity and wellbeing in which human beings would no longer have to suffer any of the ills that they presently suffer, then antinatalism would lose thereby a part, at least, of its moral impetus and its justification for existence as a moral stance. Far from being “hostile to children”, anti-natalists exhort us to consider just what an infringement upon the moral space of another human being it is when one acts in a way that results in such a human being’s beginning to exist. To express the matter in a way that necessarily involves a certain ontological paradox: anti-natalists defend the right of children not to exist.

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