By Michael Cook
There is a well-developed philosophical movement supporting voluntary childlessness. The most extreme exponent may be the South African ethicist David Benatar. His book Better Not to Have Been: the Harm of Coming into Existence created quite a stir in the media.
Now an Indian man is drawing personal and legal consequences from abstract utilitarian theories. According to a report in the BBC, Mumbai businessman Raphael Samuel is suing his parents (both lawyers) for bringing him into the world. He claims it is wrong to have children knowing that they will be exposed to a lifetime of suffering.
Mr Samuel says that humanity should be phased out of existence. “There’s no point to humanity. So many people are suffering. If humanity is extinct, Earth and animals would be happier. They’ll certainly be better off. Also no human will then suffer. Human existence is totally pointless.”
His Facebook page, Nihilanand, features posters that depict him with a huge fake beard, an eye-mask and anti-natalist messages like “Isn’t forcing a child into this world and forcing it to have a career, kidnapping, and slavery?” Or, “Your parents had you instead of a toy or a dog, you owe them nothing, you are their entertainment.”
“I’m not really doing this for publicity,” he told the BBC, “but I do want the idea to go public. This simple idea that it’s okay to not have a child.” Is he unhappy that he was born? “I wish I was not born,” he replied. “But it’s not that I’m unhappy in my life. My life is good, but I’d rather not be here. You know it’s like there’s a nice room, but I don’t want to be in that room,” he explains.
His parents, both lawyers, do not seem too worried about his plans. “That’s fine,” his mother told him, “but don’t expect me to go easy on you. I will destroy you in court.”
Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge where this appeared.