Anti-natalists believe that since life is primarily suffering(I would really like to know how they make this calculation) the voluntary extinction of the human race by not having children is the preferred course of action. They say that the potential suffering of future generations compels us not to have children and to end the human race. Now it is unlikely that they will be able to put their agenda into action.
However, for the sake of argument, I would like to picture a world in which antinatalists have the consensus on their side. Now as you may be aware most developed countries are facing an ageing population crisis because as the proportion of the tax-paying working age population decreases and the proportion of old people on pensions increases there is a gap in funding as well as manpower. To put it bluntly, such a world would be full of suffering as a bunch of lonely old people would all be unable to look after themselves and would be dying in their own dirt and without food. And presumably, if anti-natalists got their way then we would be those old people.
Antinatalists always bemoan the unsustainability of our large human population but they have somehow forgotten that the human workforce forms the backbone of our prosperity, they are not just hogging the world’s resources and not creating anything with it. When faced with these criticisms they will no doubt point towards a rosy unproven future where machines and robots are looking after us as we die in a presumably peaceful green earth but if they are so positive about our future technological prospects then why do they handwave the possibilities of creating progressively better societies and worlds as we are currently doing.
I believe that most individuals find their lives bearable and occasionally enjoyable and as Mr. Harris is constantly on the verge of pointing it out, anti-natalists constantly try to sneak in an assessment of life that is not subjective to the individual. It is not enough for us to think that since we can overall find our lives to be worth continuing and indeed it is not enough for our unborn children to one day make the judgement after they are born (since that is only when they can make that judgement) that their lives are worth continuing, no, instead the worth of the life of an individual has to be judged through the lenses of pleasure and suffering that the anti-natalists impose on reality, not only their own reality but that of the unborn. And if I said that what matters is not the amount of suffering and pleasure in itself but how we deal with it, I will no doubt be dismissed as a sentimental type, as if their own position was not an extreme emotional reaction to the suffering in this world. Huxley’s Brave New World would no doubt be an anti-natalist utopia.
Logically speaking any amount of suffering, even stubbing your toe, would mean that it would be better for you not to have been born according to their calculation. And no amount of pleasure could of-set this either. They will say that this is a strawman, well, if it isn’t then I would kindly ask them to stop using that idiotic argument that since the unborn do not exist only their suffering counts and not the pleasure they will feel at various points of their lives and about which only they have a right to make a judgement of its worth. My question is, By what authority do they make these indictments of the futures of people whose lives they know nothing about? Anti-natalists scoff at those who ask them why they haven’t killed themselves if they find their own lives so unbearable and yet they see themselves fit to make the judgement that only their hedonistic lense is the correct way of viewing the worth of other people’s lives. I ask again; By What Authority? I say that life just is whatever you make of it. I have seen those with every pleasurable thing at their hand’s length that hated their own lives and I have seen those with little more or less than what’s necessary and in an overabundance of suffering who were satisfied and at peace. You might say that human beings have adapted to suffering, that all their philosophies, religions and consolations are mere sophistry made to make us feel better about ourselves or in other words that the majority of humanity (‘breeders’ as I have seen antinatalists call us) is deluded — but by what standard? Look, the point is that whether a life is worth living(or bringing to this world, a distinction without a difference) is subjective and up to that individual and not anyone else.