Better Never to Have Been The Harm of Coming into Existence


Most people believe that they were either benefited or at least not harmed by being brought into existence. David Benatar presents a startling challenge to these assumptions. He argues that people systematically overestimate the quality of their life, and suffer quite serious harms by coming into existence.

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3. Juli 2014
The pro-natal bias manifests itself in many ways. For example, there is the assumption that one should (get married or simply cohabit in order to) produce children, and that, infertility aside, one is either backward of selfish if one does not. The assumption of "backwardness" draws on an ontogenetic or individual develop-mental paradigm -- children so not have children, but adults do. Thus if one has not (yet) started breeding, one is no fully adult . But it is far from clear that this is the appropriate paradigm. First, knowing when not to have a baby and having self-control to follow through with this is a sign of maturity not immaturity. There are all too many (pubescent) children who are having children without being adequately prepared to rear them. Second, is a related point: from a phylogenetic perspective, the impulse to procreating is extremely primitive. If "backward" is understood as "primitive" it is procreation that is backward, and rationally motivated non-rprocreation that is evolutionarily more recent and advanced.
3. Juli 2014
While there is a duty to avoid bringing suffering people into existence, there is no duty to bring happy people into being. In other words, the reason why we think that there is a duty not to bring suffering people into existence is that the presence of this suffering would be bad (for the sufferers) and the absence of the suffering is good (even though there is nobody to enjoy the absence of suffering). In contrast to this, we think that there is no duty to bring happy people into existence because while their pleasure would be good for them, its absence would not be bad for them (given that there would be nobody who would be deprived of it).
7. Juli 2014
Creating new people, by having babies, is so much a part of human life that it is rarely thought even to require a justification. Indeed, most people do not even think about whether they should or should not make a baby. They just make one. In other words, procreation is usually the consequence of sex rather than the result of a decision to bring people into existence. Those who do indeed decide to have a child might do so for any number of reasons, but among these reasons cannot be the interests of the potential child. One can never have a child for that child’s sake.
10. März 2015
It is curious that while good people go to great lengths to spare their children from suffering, few of them seem to notice that the one (and only) guaranteed way to prevent all the suffering of their children is not to bring those children into existence in the first place.
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