Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

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Jesse
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Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

Post by Jesse » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:00 pm

It's something I've thought about frequently. I just discovered today it's an actual philosophical position.

The basic premis is that since children can not give consent to be born, it is immoral to force a life upon someone. A few point's I've come up with of my own:

Giving birth to children is normally done in order to satisfy the parents selfish desires, rather than considering the ethicality of bringing an existence into being, and the consequences it entails.
When you point out to people that as long as people are giving birth, a certain percentage of those children will end up suicidally miserable (close to 40,000 people a year commit suicide in the US), they tend to think that suicidal people are just the price we have to pay in order to have happy people.
Every 40 seconds someone in the world takes their own life, a global tally of more than 800,000 suicides a year, according to a landmark United Nations report on the subject.

The research found that suicide killed more people each year than conflicts and natural catastrophes, accounting for more than half of the world's 1.5 million violent deaths annually, World Health Organization staff told reporters at its presentation in Geneva.
Another point, in order for there to be happy people, some must suffer intensly, and so the price of happiness is directly paid for by other's suffering. How can people live with this?

Giving birth is taken so lightly, when in fact it's a god-like ability.

My conclusion is that, given a lack of choice at life, why do people have a right to judge the actions of other people what-so-ever? Does not a lack of choice at existing completely dismiss people of any liability, or consquences for their behavior and actions? I would think so.

If you would like to read more on the topic:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antinatalism
http://www.thecritique.com/articles/we- ... -natalism/
http://www.vhemt.org/
Last edited by Jesse on Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

Post by Losal Samten » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:14 pm

A human rebirth is considered a higher rebirth and is in fact the best place for dharma practice, even if the five degenerations are increasing. A migrating consciousness is karmically forced into a body, the mating couple doesn't create a new being, just a housing, and for humans, a housing in the higher realm. There is suffering throughout all of samsara. The responsibility is on the (Buddhist) parents to provide the best causes for the child to be free of rebirth. Denying a being the possibility of escaping it is the true immorality.
Last edited by Losal Samten on Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

Post by Jesse » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:16 pm

Mother's Lap wrote:A human rebirth is considered a higher rebirth and is in fact the best place for dharma practice, even if the five degenerations are increasing. A migrating consciousness is karmically forced into a body, the mating couple doesn't create a new being, just a housing, and for humans, a housing in the higher realm. There is suffering throughout all of samsara. Denying a being the possibility of escaping it is the true immorality.
If there was no life, there would be no suffering, correct? Besides, that whole bit is just a skilful means to get people to practice more.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
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Re: Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

Post by Losal Samten » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:19 pm

Removal of ignorance equals removal of suffering.
Lacking mindfulness, we commit every wrong. - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔
ཨོཾ་ཧ་ནུ་པྷ་ཤ་བྷ་ར་ཧེ་ཡེ་སྭཱ་ཧཱ།།
ཨཱོཾ་མ་ཏྲི་མུ་ཡེ་སལེ་འདུ།།

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Re: Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

Post by Jesse » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:32 pm

Mother's Lap wrote:Removal of ignorance equals removal of suffering.
Not true. People still get ill, lose family and friends, get stuck in wars/conflicts. Just look at tibet. The only surefire way to get rid of all suffering, is for sentient life to not exist at all.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
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Re: Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

Post by Losal Samten » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:36 pm

Jesse wrote:The only surefire way to get rid of all suffering, is for sentient life to not exist at all.
The only way to put a halt to sentient beings is for them to remove their ignorance. Whether the dualistic mind appropriates a material body or not has no bearing on the fact that the mind suffers for as long as it remains in ignorance.
Lacking mindfulness, we commit every wrong. - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔
ཨོཾ་ཧ་ནུ་པྷ་ཤ་བྷ་ར་ཧེ་ཡེ་སྭཱ་ཧཱ།།
ཨཱོཾ་མ་ཏྲི་མུ་ཡེ་སལེ་འདུ།།

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Re: Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

Post by Jesse » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:38 pm

Mother's Lap wrote:
Jesse wrote:The only surefire way to get rid of all suffering, is for sentient life to not exist at all.
The only way to put a halt to sentient beings is for them to remove their ignorance. Whether the dualistic mind appropriates a material body or not has no bearing on the fact that the mind suffers for as long as it remains in ignorance.
Id think you would find this rather hard to prove, that lacking a body; the mind still exists. Actually I find that a rather rediculous notion. Without life, self-awareness can't exist, and so neither does suffering.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
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Re: Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

Post by Losal Samten » Mon Dec 07, 2015 3:03 pm

Jesse wrote:Id think you would find this rather hard to prove, that lacking a body; the mind still exists. Actually I find that a rather rediculous notion. Without life, self-awareness can't exist, and so neither does suffering.
Do you believe in reincarnation? Do you believe in the six destinies and three realms? Do you believe in causes and conditions giving the appropriate result (e.g. a wheat seed giving rise to a wheat stalk when all requisite conditions are present)?
Lacking mindfulness, we commit every wrong. - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔
ཨོཾ་ཧ་ནུ་པྷ་ཤ་བྷ་ར་ཧེ་ཡེ་སྭཱ་ཧཱ།།
ཨཱོཾ་མ་ཏྲི་མུ་ཡེ་སལེ་འདུ།།

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Re: Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

Post by DGA » Mon Dec 07, 2015 3:18 pm

I'm going to be a parent in about five months, give or take. Did my spouse and I inflict this situation on the bairn? Not really. I think instead that the little one's previous karma and auspicious connection (go-en in Japanese), along with our own, set these particular wheels in motion.

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Re: Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

Post by Jesse » Mon Dec 07, 2015 3:29 pm

Depends what you mean by reincarnation. Reincarnation work's just as well without assuming that mind exists without body. Having a body with a brain, sense organs etc, are the conditions required for self-awareness. Without a body, there may well be awareness of some type, but it certainty isn't self-aware as that would require a brain, memories, etc.
DGA wrote:I'm going to be a parent in about five months, give or take. Did my spouse and I inflict this situation on the bairn? Not really. I think instead that the little one's previous karma and auspicious connection (go-en in Japanese), along with our own, set these particular wheels in motion.
Congratulations.

Though, I'd rather keep the conversation neutral in terms of actual people/circumstances, because it will become emotionally charged otherwise.

There are plenty of people out there who never wanted to be born. Plenty with severe illness, circumstances that make their lives awful/living hell. So, with that fact in mind, what right do we have to force another being to exist?

We can never control the circumstances of another life. Most parents have their children because they make them happy, if the child turns out badly, ill, etc. Most parents just kick them to the curb. Especially once they turn 18, it's ironic. We create beings without the slightly inclination that we are forever responsible for that existence, societal conventions aside.

I would say most parents have children for the sole purpose of their own happiness, and so I am against it.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
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Re: Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

Post by DGA » Mon Dec 07, 2015 3:54 pm

Sure, I'm sympathetic to your position, Jesse, or at least the recognition of suffering behind it. Samsara really is affliction without end, and it's crossed my mind more than once that the human race would do well to at least slow down with the reproduction already.

My point is only that the decision to bring a life into the world is not exclusively made by parents. Some couples long for children that they can't have; if it were a matter of volition only, they'd have a full house. Others hate their kids but have twenty of them by a dozen different partners, and no contraception does the job. Karma and dependent origination...

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Re: Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

Post by Jesse » Mon Dec 07, 2015 3:57 pm

DGA wrote:Sure, I'm sympathetic to your position, Jesse, or at least the recognition of suffering behind it. Samsara really is affliction without end, and it's crossed my mind more than once that the human race would do well to at least slow down with the reproduction already.

My point is only that the decision to bring a life into the world is not exclusively made by parents. Some couples long for children that they can't have; if it were a matter of volition only, they'd have a full house. Others hate their kids but have twenty of them by a dozen different partners, and no contraception does the job. Karma and dependent origination...
Yes that's true, but I wonder when we as a society will actually give this discussion credence, once the entire world is stripped of resources and the entire world is at war over resources? Ohh..wait.

I feel badly for children now-days, because society is continually getting worse and worse. One day, there will be nothing left of nature for them either. Often makes me wonder what is so great about humanity.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
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Re: Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

Post by Redfaery » Mon Dec 07, 2015 4:42 pm

Jesse wrote:I would say most parents have children for the sole purpose of their own happiness, and so I am against it.
You could say the same for most couples who choose NOT to have children, actually.
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Re: Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

Post by Jesse » Mon Dec 07, 2015 5:03 pm

Redfaery wrote:
Jesse wrote:I would say most parents have children for the sole purpose of their own happiness, and so I am against it.
You could say the same for most couples who choose NOT to have children, actually.
Yes, but that option doesn't involve the life of another person.
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Re: Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

Post by Redfaery » Mon Dec 07, 2015 5:07 pm

Jesse wrote:
Redfaery wrote:
Jesse wrote:I would say most parents have children for the sole purpose of their own happiness, and so I am against it.
You could say the same for most couples who choose NOT to have children, actually.
Yes, but that option doesn't involve the life of another person.
So what if there's an accidental pregnancy?
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Re: Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

Post by philji » Mon Dec 07, 2015 5:34 pm

Jesse wrote:
Mother's Lap wrote:A human rebirth is considered a higher rebirth and is in fact the best place for dharma practice, even if the five degenerations are increasing. A migrating consciousness is karmically forced into a body, the mating couple doesn't create a new being, just a housing, and for humans, a housing in the higher realm. There is suffering throughout all of samsara. Denying a being the possibility of escaping it is the true immorality.
If there was no life, there would be no suffering, correct? Besides, that whole bit is just a skilful means to get people to practice more.
Isn't this one of the major downfalls, to hold an extreme view such as nihilism.

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Re: Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

Post by Ayu » Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:01 pm

In these modern times we think having children is something we can plan. But, IMHO, this is a missconception.
The parents have no genuine controll. It only seems so.
People who urgently want to have children, don't get any. People who never thought of being parents have to change their lifes all of a sudden for a little prince or princess to come.

I think, it is immoral and unsocial to have children and not care about them in a natural loving manner. The needs of a child should be respected just like those of an adult.
Edit: As far as I know, my children wanted to be born. It was their own wish.
For the benefit and ease of all sentient beings. :heart:

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Re: Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

Post by boda » Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:19 pm

Jesse wrote:It's something I've thought about frequently. I just discovered today it's an actual philosophical position.

The basic premis is that since children can not give consent to be born, it is immoral to force a life upon someone. A few point's I've come up with of my own:

Giving birth to children is normally done in order to satisfy the parents selfish desires, rather than considering the ethicality of bringing an existence into being, and the consequences it entails.
When you point out to people that as long as people are giving birth, a certain percentage of those children will end up suicidally miserable (close to 40,000 people a year commit suicide in the US), they tend to think that suicidal people are just the price we have to pay in order to have happy people.
Every 40 seconds someone in the world takes their own life, a global tally of more than 800,000 suicides a year, according to a landmark United Nations report on the subject.

The research found that suicide killed more people each year than conflicts and natural catastrophes, accounting for more than half of the world's 1.5 million violent deaths annually, World Health Organization staff told reporters at its presentation in Geneva.
Another point, in order for there to be happy people, some must suffer intensly, and so the price of happiness is directly paid for by other's suffering. How can people live with this?

Giving birth is taken so lightly, when in fact it's a god-like ability.

My conclusion is that, given a lack of choice at life, why do people have a right to judge the actions of other people what-so-ever? Does not a lack of choice at existing completely dismiss people of any liability, or consquences for their behavior and actions? I would think so.

If you would like to read more on the topic:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antinatalism
http://www.thecritique.com/articles/we- ... -natalism/
http://www.vhemt.org/
The statistic actually paint a different picture than the one you've created, Jesse. Regardless of what our parents gave us, everyday we choose to live. 800k suicides per year globally, out of 7 billion, is only about .01 percent. That means almost 100% of people want to live.

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Re: Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

Post by Jeff H » Mon Dec 07, 2015 7:05 pm

I have to admit I’m a little puzzled about the purpose or value of this discussion. As Buddhists we come to this site to explore Buddha’s worldview about how to overcome the suffering we can’t seem to escape by any other means. But antinatalism seems to say that the only cure for suffering is annihilation. Genocide to prevent suicide? (In fairness, I have not researched your references, Jesse.)

I’m reading this abstract discussion wondering what the plan is – and the extent of the plan. How does antinatalism play out to eliminate suffering? First sterilize everyone you can, starting with the sterilization task force. (I'm assuming antinatalism doesn't depend entirely on voluntary subscription.) Then a nuclear war would help speed up the natural attrition by old age and starvation. But even so, none of those efforts could make a dent in the animal kingdom, and if either materialistic evolution or Buddhist rebirth is correct, those sentient beings will eventually regenerate something like a human race with the capacity for self-aware, intentional causation. (It sounds from this thread that you don’t accept the other four desire realms or the form and formless realms.)

Even from a purely materialistic perspective, I’m at a loss to see how antinatalism and the subsequent genocide avoids suffering. I’m sticking with Dharma for now. :shrug:
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Re: Antinatalism, Having children is immoral

Post by Jesse » Mon Dec 07, 2015 9:19 pm

Redfaery wrote:So what if there's an accidental pregnancy?
Abortion, pretty much.
boda wrote:The statistic actually paint a different picture than the one you've created, Jesse. Regardless of what our parents gave us, everyday we choose to live. 800k suicides per year globally, out of 7 billion, is only about .01 percent. That means almost 100% of people want to live.
That statistic doesn't include those who don't want to live, yet don't commit suicide. Those too fearful of doing it, etc. But if you look up severe mental illness statistics, it should give a better picture of the numbers we're actually dealing with.

Also, how do you judge the value of one life? As long as some people do not want to live, the rest who do are living their life at the expense of those who do not.
Regardless of what our parents gave us, everyday we choose to live.
No, we don't. We just live unless someone takes an extream measure that is unfathomably difficult to do. So it's a moot argument.
People who urgently want to have children, don't get any. People who never thought of being parents have to change their lifes all of a sudden for a little prince or princess to come.
That's a generalization and doesn't always hold true. Anyways, it shouldn't matter, if someone finds out they are pregnant, I see no moral obligation to have the child. In fact, I believe it's more moral to have an abortion in a large majority of cases.
Even from a purely materialistic perspective, I’m at a loss to see how antinatalism and the subsequent genocide avoids suffering. I’m sticking with Dharma for now.
Antinatalism as a philosophy isn't dedicated to ending suffering. It's purpose is to point out the moral/ethical failings of having children. Though, personally if everything could be wiped out, then there would be no suffering. Not just earth, or humans, but everything(humans, animals, planets, universes) gone. Game solved.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
-Henry David Thoreau

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