Whoever, as “mä phynai-ist”, considers the mere fact of having stepped, or been thrust, into existence as something open in its very principle to ethical question thereby passes a judgment not just on himself but on everyone else as well. The principle of universalizability at the base of all ethical systems dictates that one must pass upon people who find themselves, or who are placed, in comparable situations to one’s own judgments which are at least similar to the judgments that one passes upon oneself.
Mä phynai! is a hypothetical, an unrealizable wish. It is, therefore, in the first instance not an imperative which might be turned against each individual’s respective progenitors with the meaning: “Why did you beget me?” This Mä phynai! Is not so much a case of prescriptive speech as of an expression of regret which, generally speaking, laments one’s own fate alone. Nonetheless, it does indeed convey, beneath its surface meaning, a certain prescriptive force: whoever is of the view that it would, in principle, have been better for him never to have been born, does indeed implicitly prescribe to others that they ought not to beget offspring – inasmuch, namely, as the Mä phynai! conveys the message that it would have been better for every individual without exception had he or she not been begotten. If one lays bare to view those actual human actions – namely, the active begetting and bearing of children – which necessarily lie behind any critical rejection of the passive experience of being born, there comes into view along with them a hidden but nonetheless millennially enduring critique of nativity itself, a subterraneously onflowing deep antinatalist current within human cultural history.
Whoever, then, claims, in basic principle, for his or her own self this stance of “better never to have been born” is also bound to say of others too that >it would have been better had they never begun to exist and is thereby, at least implicitly, always him- or herself an antinatalist.