Wailing from the heights of velleity: A strong case for antinatalism in these trying times

Paper by Jeroen Robbert Zandbergen, published on March 12, 2021 in South African Journal of Philosophy

The twenty-first century is teeming with larger-than-life threats to our larger-than-life existence, such as famine, war, natural disasters and climate change, viruses, incurable disease, etc. At stake is the future of the human species as a whole. But it is not just external threats that herald the prospective end of humanity. We also face the general exhaustion of many of our earlier and more comfortable modes of philosophy. This is arguably a much graver threat. It is this gloomy atmosphere that the philosophy of antinatalism taps into. Antinatalism is the philosophical view according to which human reproduction should be brought to a halt for any of a variety of reasons. It will be argued here, however, that we can only come to the antinatalist conclusion when we affirm that humankind (somehow) represents a very persistent anomaly in the universe at large. Otherwise, we could simply resort to (much) less radical steps than the ones advocated by antinatalism. Based on this, an important distinction will be made between reactionary (or activist) antinatalism and its more philosophical, so-called originary, counterpart. Ultimately, against recent attempts that push for a moderate embrace of antinatalism, the present work makes a strong case for it. It is argued that this is warranted by the very writings most usually associated with this radical philosophical position.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02580136.2021.1949559
South African Journal of Philosophy 40/3 (2021), 265–278