The Harm of Existence

Paper by Kyle Mykietiuk, published on January 1, 2019 in compos mentis: Undergraduate Journal of Cognition and Neuroethics

The purpose of this paper is to defend the position of “antinatalism” which tries to show that coming into existence is always a serious harm for the person who is brought into existence, and that even what we might call the best lives are not worth starting. This is shown by an asymmetry proposed by David Benatar in which he compares pains and pleasures to their absence. I will refer to pains and pleasures as, “the good things in life,” and “the bad things in life.” By looking at this asymmetry we can come to the conclusion that there are no lives worth starting, and even the very best lives are plagued with an immeasurable amount of the “bad things in life.” I will explore just how much badness existence contains and the positive illusions and biological safeguards we use to defend ourselves which prevent us from consciously recognizing this. I will object to the fact that we have any sort of obligation to produce happy people but we do have an obligation not to produce unhappy people, or put people into a potentially harmful and dangerous situation without their knowledge or consent. All these things lead me to the conclusion that bringing someone into existence is a terrible form of malevolence and an action that should not be taken by a moral person.

compos mentis: Undergraduate Journal of Cognition and Neuroethics 7/1 (2019), 27–41