May 19, 2024

The gift that doesn’t keep on giving: non-existence.

The philosophy of anti-natalism refuses to die. In the latest issue of Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, Finnish bioethicist Matti Häyry renews the argument for reproductive abstinence. The headline over the article gives the game away: “If You Must Give Them a Gift, Then Give Them the Gift of Nonexistence”.

Häyry takes a fairly glum view of existence. He writes: “I have lived a relatively good life, as far as human lives go, and it is perfectly possible that I will continue to do so. With any luck, I can fake it to the end and create a fairly decent bionarrative. Yet I do not particularly want to experience any of it.”

He does not face unendurable suffering. “My life may not be dramatic suffering, as suggested for every life by Schopenhauer’s philosophy, but the impossibility of continued Epicurean tranquillity and the unreachability of completed Kantian perfection (with the ensuing Schopenhauerian frustration) are sufficiently haunting prospects for me. Not to mention worse things, which are, of course, also possible.”

That is enough, he feels, to make life not worthwhile.

With this in mind, it’s understandable that he advises would-be parents not to. As he writes in the Journal of Medical Ethics blog, “Any human life can turn out to be so bad that it is not worth living for the individual experiencing it. Therefore, potential parents would be taking an unacceptable gamble by creating a new life.”