Should We Stop Having Children?

Adam De Salle
8 min readMay 18, 2021

2020 was bleak, wasn’t it? I think this last year has made us realise how bad things can get, and things are only gonna get worse. Yes, the vaccine rollout has been tremendously successful and this whole pandemic thing seems to be coming to an end soon (fingers crossed). But there are still fatally important issues that remain unresolved, and that the pandemic has distracted us from: rising temperatures, rising sea levels, more catastrophic weather events, devastating droughts, increasing air pollution and toxicity, more wars, more diseases, a refugee crisis, and the list unfortunately goes on. To be frank, the planet is trending downward pretty rapidly, and the forecast for humans is not good. In a world where standards of living are invariably getting worse, should we still have kids?

Greek Tragedian Sophocles

This is in fact a debate currently going on in philosophy, ethics, and environmental studies, and it goes by the name of Anti-Natalism — the belief that procreation (bringing human lives into existence) is morally wrong. An Anti-Natalist believes your parents did something objectively wrong and unethical having you (don’t worry, I think your great). The idea actually goes as far back as the Tragedies of Ancient Greece, with the Ancient Greece tragedian Sophocles writing, “Never to have been born is the best thing but if we must see the light, the next best is quickly returning whence we came.” It is important to note that Anti-Natalists (at least the respectable and sane ones) DO NOT advocate for killing your kids: taking life is very different to choosing not to create life. David Benatar, a South African philosopher and the most notable contemporary Anti-Natalist, argued in his book ‘Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence’ that sparing humans from suffering is one of the key arguments for bringing the circle of life to a hard stop. To quote Benatar, “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.” Existence, the Anti-Natalist suggests, creates unnecessary suffering for humans who never…

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Adam De Salle

I am a young writer interested in providing the intellectual tools to those in the political trenches so that they may fight their battles well-informed.