“Mankind must perpetuate!”

NOTE: I’d rather you actually read the entry first and address something I wrote instead of just writing comments about how stupid human extinctionism is. Thanks.

***

I’ve recently turned around in favour of human extinction. I talked about parenting being immoral, and that as long as this hierarchical system exists we should not breed, which inevitably led people to tell me “but surely you don’t believe humanity should just disappear?” At first I was very reluctant to discuss the issue, but now I’ve come to the conclusion that yes, human extinction is a good idea.

When I get into that issue, however, people will always say some variant of “mankind must perpetuate.” The idea of the human race ceasing to exist seems to be simply unacceptable.

First I have to clarify that I am not talking about the arguments supporting reproduction for the sake of the “country.” States do thrive on population and need to keep a growing population in order to keep the economy on the upside and keep the whole scheme going. But although I strongly oppose such reasoning, that’s not what I am arguing against as an extinctionist. I am arguing specifically against the notion that the human race, humans as a whole, must seek perpetuation of itself (through its individuals, of course).

To me, the proposition that “mankind must perpetuate” is a strange statement, worthy of analysis. On the basis of what necessity must the human race perpetuate itself? Is is an ontological necessity? Certainly not. There is no possible reason why human beings cannot disappear from the world, and indeed it is a possibility that is often considered in various contexts as being realistic.

Is it an ethical necessity? But that’s incongruous because ethics assumes the existence of human beings and human action in the first place. Therefore, saying that mankind must perpetuate for ethical reasons is a circular argument, because it would require one to assume that we can judge that a scenario where ethics does not exist is worse than a scenario where ethics exists, which implies some standard that is above ethics itself.

Is it a moral necessity? Surely this is just as impossible, because a scenario where there are no humans necessarily excludes morality as well. It cannot be the case that for me such a scenario is immoral, because “I” would be dead and therefore my values would not enter the picture at all.

It can be argued that we think morally about things that may happen long after we die (such as leaving a legacy). It can also be argued that an extinctionist program might bring about things during one’s lifetime which an individual may not like (such as the absence of children), thus putting it within the realm of morality. I agree with these points, and I obviously don’t think everyone should be a human extinctionist. I certainly don’t expect the extinctionist program to fit everyone’s values, just as I wouldn’t expect any ideology, true or not, to fit everyone’s values.

That being said, I don’t think either of these points justify a statement of necessity. While I may prefer to leave a legacy for future generations, it doesn’t create obligations in my own mind. As for what would happen in an extinctionist scenario, I don’t personally believe that they outweigh the benefits.

What about teleological necessity? Teleology always remains the refuge of the neurotic, and I think this case is no exception. Just as Christians believe that without immortality our lives have no meaning, many people seem to believe that without species immortality our lives have no meaning. But there’s no more reason to believe in one premise than the other. The meaning we impute to our lives comes from our own values and feelings, and there’s no reason to bemoan the fact that either our lives or the life of our species may or may not continue after a certain point.

Indeed, it is that very limitation, the fact that every choice we make does operate on a scarce resource (that is to say, time) that gives it meaning. To take an extreme example, the decision of the terminally ill patient to end his life is of great meaning and purpose. Why should we not say the same about collectively ending the life of a perpetually ill society?

Of course we can change the question and ask, not “mankind must perpetuate,” but “it is better for me if mankind perpetuates?”, or more simply, “is it better for me if people keep having children?”. I think this question is a great deal more interesting. My position on the issue is based on three main points:

1. Having children is a major corruptive influence on people. It seems to be almost inevitable that people who become parents also become more statist and more religious than they would be otherwise, mostly because of the fears they have about their children. I believe that a society which stops making children will inevitably become less morally corrupted, and that it would be a profound change.
(note that this point assumes that parenting would still exist, which seems rather likely whatever happens)

2. There is a tremendous amounts of resources involved in the manufacturing and buying of products from the childcare industry. These resources could be used, both by the parents themselves and by society at large, for more constructive endeavours (if society is still under a State and therefore unfree, this would of course be largely useless).

3. Even if humans do not go extinct, a major decrease in population could only have greatly beneficial effects on freedom and happiness as a whole, on economic terms (less people to feed with the same amount of land, less economic inequality possible, also see point 2), on political terms (less democratic pressure due to lesser population size, less power to concentrate, also could possibly give rise to stateless areas, or at least increase the amount of areas isolated from State intervention), on ecological terms (less human impact on nature, lower depletion of resources), and on social terms (less children means more care and attention devoted to each of them. less unwanted children means lower crime rates for society as a whole, conflicts would decrease due to the greater availability of resources).

In fact the other two points I raised are also effected by a drastic population decrease, and I consider drastic population decrease and extinction scenarios to be similar enough to warrant bundling them together as a general rule. Both agree that we need to stop breeding as much as possible, and they merely disagree on the extent to which we should do so.

Finally, please note that my position is not political, and that I do not advocate killing people, taxing them for having children, or forcing them to not have children. Insofar as politics goes, I am an Anarchist first, as it should be.

43 thoughts on ““Mankind must perpetuate!”

  1. Hellbound Alleee February 17, 2009 at 21:27

    I admit that, at first, when I heard of the voluntary extinction movement, it sounded whacko and evil. After all, if you value humanity, then you value its perpetuation, right?

    Well, there’s really no such thing as a “humanity.” There are persons, persons who exist now. There exists no future generation. The concept “future generations” seems to serve only politicians and death-fearing individuals. Atheists who know better know that life needs not go on forever to “have meaning,” therefore many of “us” fall into the alternative fear-position of living on by way of children and grandchildren…

    …which is absurd. Any good nonbeliever (and anyone else, as it should be) knows one cannot live through another, as sure as there is no Christ who can die for another. The idea of leaving a legacy is kept alive through fear of death.

    Fact is, I only assumed Humanity Must Be Saved because I never realized one could think any other way. Why don’t I just fall into a nihilistic spiral and end it all? Because I like living. That’s selfish, yes, but a lot less selfish than the decision to bring children into the world. I cannot choose to not live–I can only choose to leave behind a real fucking mess for other people to clean up afterwards–legal and physical–from whatever means I choose to kill myself. Besides–I know I’m going to die eventually, anyway.

    It’s a programmed reaction, this ancestral protectionism, and most people have no thought that this might be irrational. Therefore, asking “why?” is probably just a big irritation for Pink Mankind. Babies will still get made, so I see no reason to fear the end of humanity soon. But it will end, eventually. Maybe it’s nicer if there were fewer humans around to have to endure it?

  2. kentmcmanigal February 18, 2009 at 03:18

    I don’t think extinction is a moral question at all. Humans will become extinct in one way or another sooner or later. Probably sooner.

    However, I have found that my children have made me more committed to anarchy than I would have otherwise been (because they make me more interested in the future beyond my life-span), and have had absolutely no bearing on my atheism. I’m certainly not going to lie to my kids about the supernatural. If they, for some reason, develop belief in magic, it didn’t come from anything I taught them.

    I realize that not everyone’s experience will be the same as mine, but I love my children very much and am so glad I got to know them. Of course, I don’t “grieve for the children I didn’t have” like a Christian couple I once knew. They also claimed “dinosaur bones” were just big pig bones assembled incorrectly by evil, atheistic scientists. :)

  3. Db0 February 18, 2009 at 05:41

    The reason why humans consider the perpetuation of humanity as morally good is because of the way our societies have evolved and the way our instincts urge us towards breeding and flood us with chemicals to change our judgment. Arguing all this with logic is shouting at the wind.

    In any case, continuing the perpetuation of humanity is morally good because it’s a logical conclusion of all the moral values that make one human good, and especially the values that are necessary for Anarchism, such as cooperation.

    In the end, all our morality comes from the very basic premise that the continuation of humanity is good (which in itself is an evolved one). All our subsequent values have only meaning when this anchor is present.

  4. rechelon February 18, 2009 at 09:07

    Is choosing consciousness as opposed to non-consciousness a moral good?

    Then, whether or not it’s inevitable, acquiescing to the replacement of consciousness with non-consciousness is immoral. Because I see thinking as an ethical imperative, I don’t get to opt out of that imperative after a period of time has elapsed, just because perpetual continuation of my thinking might be impossible.

    If God existed (in the tyrannical sky-daddy fashion) wouldn’t it be my moral imperative to rebel against him, even though I had absolutely no hope of winning?

    Except that I actually have a small smidgen of a chance at living forever. (Which, because I’m a member of humanity, means the perpetuation of humanity.)

  5. Francois Tremblay February 18, 2009 at 17:36

    “Arguing all this with logic is shouting at the wind.”

    You mean, arguing against it in YOUR mind is shouting at the wind. Please do not project.

    “In any case, continuing the perpetuation of humanity is morally good because it’s a logical conclusion of all the moral values that make one human good, and especially the values that are necessary for Anarchism, such as cooperation.”

    To be very kind about it, this is total and absolute bullshit. Breeding is not at all the “logical conclusion” of cooperation or any other values, it generally goes against them. Breeding very often gets in the way of Anarchistic cooperation, actually, because parents are scared about their child turning out wrong and won’t grant them the freedom they themselves enjoy.

    “In the end, all our morality comes from the very basic premise that the continuation of humanity is good”

    Insofar as morality goes, you are completely brainwashed and extremely aberrated. You need to seriously examine WHY you think this way and where this idea comes from.

  6. Db0 February 18, 2009 at 17:41

    You mean, arguing against it in YOUR mind is shouting at the wind. Please do not project.

    I never said you can’t convince ME. But don’t let me stop you from making demeaning digs.

    To be very kind about it, this is total and absolute bullshit.

    Temper, temper

    Breeding very often gets in the way of Anarchistic cooperation, actually, because parents are scared about their child turning out wrong and won’t grant them the freedom they themselves enjoy.

    Then the problem is with the parents being irrationally scared. In any case, I wasn’t talking about breeding specifically but from protecting humanity from extinction.

    Insofar as morality goes, you are completely brainwashed and extremely aberrated.

    Yadda yadda yadda. Argue, don’t throw around pathetic insults

  7. Hellbound Alleee February 18, 2009 at 17:44

    Wait–do old people and childless couples have no values? Since I cannot nor do I intend to breed, do I have no values? Do people who choose not to breed because of genetic problems and health issues have no values (no brainer, of course).

    Is adoption a non-value?

  8. Francois Tremblay February 18, 2009 at 17:45

    I don’t want to argue with you, I am just telling you that you are aberrated and you need to consider where these ideas come from. They are not natural. Reconsider your premises.

    Fact is, I wouldn’t even tell you this unless I thought you were smart enough to do so, although I may have been wrong in this case. I don’t want to argue with you and if you want to argue, simply stop commenting on my blog (as I’ve stated before, I don’t use the comments section to argue with people: it’s utterly pointless).

  9. Hellbound Alleee February 18, 2009 at 17:47

    I’m pretty confused here. I have values and I try to reasonably judge their rationality. I think people are over-thinking morality. You forget that very important moral decisions are made by people by themselves, for themselves. Whether or not “the future” and “the people in the future” exist (they do not), moral evaluations of actions are made every second. They have nothing to do with a sperm meeting an egg and fertilizing it.

  10. Db0 February 18, 2009 at 17:51

    I am just telling you that you are aberrated and you need to consider where these ideas come from. They are not natural. Reconsider your premises.

    That doesn’t help me at all. My ideas are there because they have been evaluated and found correct. A random offhand comment to “reconsider my premises” is next to useless.

    I don’t want to argue with you and if you want to argue, simply stop commenting on my blog (as I’ve stated before, I don’t use the comments section to argue with people: it’s utterly pointless).

    If you don’t want to argue, then don’t argue. Let the comment stand or even better, close the comments.

    This does explain however why there is so little criticism in your comment section.

  11. Db0 February 18, 2009 at 17:52

    Hellbound, are you talking to me?

  12. Francois Tremblay February 18, 2009 at 17:54

    “That doesn’t help me at all. My ideas are there because they have been evaluated and found correct.”

    I’m sorry then. I thought you were an intelligent person but apparently you are a complete idiot, so please stop commenting on my blog.

    And yes, she was talking to you.

  13. Roderick T. Long February 19, 2009 at 13:40

    I’ll grant that the conjunction of the following two positions:

    a) It’s vitally important not to coerce, kill, enslave, expropriate, or otherwise oppress human beings.

    b) The human race should cease to exist.

    is not logically inconsistent, exactly. Still, it’s an awfully puzzling conjunction, in at least grounds-thickness and strategic-thickness ways, such that I have trouble imagining how and why anyone who held one of these positions would be attracted to the other. Just how important could it be to respect the pesky rights of creatures whose nonexistence is preferable to their existence?

  14. Anarcho-pragmatiste February 19, 2009 at 16:06

    Maybe we need to make a further distinction between “breeding” (a natural act) and “parenting” (a hierarchical religious-statist concept to dominate and brainwash people). Maybe this is the point that bothers Db0. I’ll think about that.

    “I agree with these points, and I obviously don’t think everyone should be a human extinctionist. I certainly don’t expect the extinctionist program to fit everyone’s values, just as I wouldn’t expect any ideology, true or not, to fit everyone’s values.”

    And there is absolutely NO PROBLEM with a non-coercive human extinction program and his compatibility with Anarchy (even if I am not an human extinctionnist (but I don’y want to have children right now)).

    I don’t think this should be an issue for Db0.

  15. Francois Tremblay February 19, 2009 at 16:40

    “Just how important could it be to respect the pesky rights of creatures whose nonexistence is preferable to their existence?”

    Wrong. You apparently don’t “get it.” I don’t want someone who exists right now to not exist. I simply want them not to breed.

  16. Roderick T. Long February 19, 2009 at 16:49

    Wrong. You apparently don’t “get it.” I don’t want someone who exists right now to not exist.

    I never said you did. I was talking de dicto, not de re.

    I simply want them not to breed.

    Yes, I get that, duh. But I don’t see how that avoids the problem. “This species shouldn’t have its precious rights violated but should cease to exist” manifests the tension I’m talking about just as much as “These individuals shouldn’t have their precious rights violated but should cease to exist.” I don’t see why the conjunction is any less puzzling de dicto than it is de re.

  17. Francois Tremblay February 19, 2009 at 16:57

    No, I don’t believe any single living individual should cease to exist. You are the one who implied that, not me. You apparently are not able to differentiate between an individual and a species. Species do not have rights, only the individuals instantiating it have rights.

  18. Roderick T. Long February 19, 2009 at 17:10

    No, I don’t believe any single living individual should cease to exist. You are the one who implied that, not me.

    The phrase I used would imply that if taken de re, but in context it was obviously intended de dicto.

    You apparently are not able to differentiate between an individual and a species.

    Do you have an argument for this assertion of my inability, or is just abuse-your-readers day?

    Species do not have rights, only the individuals instantiating it have rights.

    Certainly species don’t have rights distinct from the rights of the individuals composing them. But the latter are all I was talking about. By the rights of the species I just meant the rights of the individuals de dicto. In any case, your response doesn’t address my objection.

  19. Francois Tremblay February 19, 2009 at 17:13

    I am not “abusing” you and I did answer your question. There is no tension between granting people all their rights and not wanting them to breed, any more than there is between granting people all their rights and not wanting them to kill themselves. You are the one who are creating a problem.

  20. Roderick T. Long February 19, 2009 at 17:25

    You’ve “answered” my objection by simply asserting that there is no tension. I don’t see how that’s an answer. I pointed to two bases for the tension — grounds thickness (how could human beings be so valuable as to deserve rights yet so nonvaluable that one should want there to be no more of them?) and strategic thickness (how can a commitment to respecting the rights of human beings be stable or reliable in a culture that regards them as nonvaluable that one should want there to be no more of them?). If you gave an answer to those objections, I missed it.

  21. Francois Tremblay February 19, 2009 at 17:39

    “how could human beings be so valuable as to deserve rights yet so nonvaluable that one should want there to be no more of them?”

    Not wanting people to breed does not mean you find those people nonvaluable. Once again you fail to differentiate between existing human beings and potential human beings.

    “how can a commitment to respecting the rights of human beings be stable or reliable in a culture that regards them as nonvaluable that one should want there to be no more of them?”

    Same answer. You fail to make the difference between the rights of existing human beings and the value of potential human beings.

  22. Roderick T. Long February 19, 2009 at 18:02

    Not wanting people to breed does not mean you find those people nonvaluable. Once again you fail to differentiate between existing human beings and potential human beings.

    And once again you fail to differentiate between the de dicto and de re senses of “human beings.” I’m not talking about finding the individuals valuable ,i>de re, I’m talking about finding them valuable de dicto. You presumably must do the latter, since you grant rights to people you’ve never meant and cannot refer to individually. Which means you value people merely for being human. Which means you simultaneously a) regard membership in class HS as a value-conferring charactersitc, and yet b) wish class HS to become empty.

  23. Francois Tremblay February 19, 2009 at 20:34

    No, I do not value people “for being human.” I value people who actually exist for being human. I do not value potentially human people who do not exist.

  24. Roderick T. Long February 19, 2009 at 20:43

    If you value actually existing people about whom you know nothing except that they’re human, how is that not valuing people for being human? You’re trying to value them de re, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to pick them out de re. So I think you’re stuck with valuing them de dicto.

    A separate point: do you think the arguments for extinctionism were as cogent a few decades ago as they are today? If so, then you seem to be committed to thinking it would have been a good thing if the actually existing people you currently value had never existed.

  25. Francois Tremblay February 19, 2009 at 21:44

    Yes, at the time I would have thought so. So what? You seem to be adamant into creating a contradiction where there isn’t any.

  26. Anarcho-pragmatiste February 20, 2009 at 12:56

    Interesting discussion.

    There’s no contradiction between these two positions:

    1) Humans should’nt breed. (even if this is not my position)

    2) Actual living individuals should’nt cease to exist.

  27. Anarcho-pragmatiste February 20, 2009 at 12:56

    shouldn’t

  28. Neverfox February 20, 2009 at 23:50

    If I may rephrase Roderick’s claim that there is a seeming tension here:

    If you say “Actual living individuals shouldn’t cease to exist.” then the logical question is “Why?” I think Roderick is trying to get at what answer you might give to this question that doesn’t create tension with the concept “New humans shouldn’t exist.”

    That doesn’t mean that it proves a contradiction because perhaps you have just decided that the current set of HS is the lucky set worthy of value because you said so. I’m not saying this is your answer but it’s one possibility.

    I think he just wants you to clarify why you value current people and why your reason doesn’t apply to new people, who will apparently carry the same “attributes” that make current people worthwhile.

  29. Francois Tremblay February 21, 2009 at 00:20

    I already answered that question. The difference you are looking for is the one between actual human beings and potential human beings. The fact that one recognizes the rights of human beings that do exist does not mean that one thinks their creation was desirable, any more than the creation of new life is desirable.

    You are the ones who see a tension there. I see no tension between these two concepts.

  30. Les U. Knight February 21, 2009 at 13:55

    Some of the confusion may be from referring to people who do not exist as “new people.” We shouldn’t be creating more new people, but once they’re here, they have rights which are impossible for non-existent people to exercise.

    People who don’t exist are more valuable to Earth’s biosphere than those who are already here. Each new human not created in the US avoids converting about 24 acres of potential wildlife habitat into human habitat.

    The obvious question to follow this: “Why do existing people have a right to continue existing when our existence prevents so many other species from existing?” Perhaps in the grand scheme of things we don’t, but we’ll all pass on soon enough — no need to add to human misery by increasing deaths.

    May we live long and die out.

  31. Francois Tremblay February 21, 2009 at 15:15

    Thank you Les for finding my blog!

  32. db0 February 23, 2009 at 02:45

    One question, by following Les’ link, I found this quote from the first descriptive paragraph

    Phasing out the human race by voluntarily ceasing to breed will allow Earth’s biosphere to return to good health.

    I take it this is the moral goal the human extinctionism movement tries to achieve? If so, why is this moral? Normally earth preservation is directly tied into human perpetuation, in the sense that we want to preserve the earth in good form so that future generations live heathily and comfortably.

    What is the moral basis on wanting to bring the biosphere to good health when no humans are around?

  33. Francois Tremblay February 23, 2009 at 04:12

    I have no interest in the health of the biosphere as an argument for extinctionism. It’s a good argument for near-extinctionism, which is also a position I support, but not for extinctionism.

  34. casual observer November 16, 2009 at 01:33

    I’m attempting to put my own ego aside as I write this. a difficult thing to do, perhaps.

    I read your entire article and I basically just saw a lot of assumptions. But I don’t see anything that necessarily follows. For instance the idea that a reduction in population will somehow lead to greater economic equality. On what grounds?

    It strikes me that you are just speaking about another kind of ideology, another set of beliefs. Here is this set of people that believe humans should perpetuate for the following reasons, and here am I and this other set of people who believe otherwise, for the following reasons.

    you say there can be no moral necessity, but then you talk of mass extinction as a means to greater personal freedom and happiness. That and the health of the planet. Rather than those you claim to say would argue that perpetuation is a moral necessity, aren’t you really saying that you believe reduction is a moral necessity? (or perhaps practical if you want to split hairs, but i dont see that anything immoral can be that practical, after all). So it sounds like you’re just taking the opposite. i.e. “well, humanity has been on this particular course for eons, and look at the mess I see all around me. So we’d better do the opposite.”

    By organizing this set of beliefs (VHEMT) how is that any different than organizing a religion around some other beliefs about this or that teaching? It is all a product of thought. So i guess if you believe that humans who live according to ideas and ideals that are put together by thought are incapable of transcending their own thinking, which is to say if one believes that humanity is beyond becoming collectively enlightened then why not just toss in the towel.

  35. Francois Tremblay November 16, 2009 at 04:14

    casual observer, what’s your point? That I have beliefs, just like the pro-reproduction people? That my set of values are not superior to theirs? I never denied any of this. Why do you think this is somehow a problem I must address?

  36. […] 10. “Mankind must perpetuate!” […]

  37. […] that the reasons people give for having children are notoriously bad. I have also argued that there is no logical justification to believe in the perpetuation of the species. If we accept both points, then the burden of proof on natalism is very great […]

  38. […] like religion. Both are made of consumption, addiction, cannibalism, ego-worship and reproduction. The perceived necessity of perpetuating mankind or sentience or human values is a mental illusion. As long as we acknowledge this, we’re fine, but when we declare human […]

  39. David Eldridge September 18, 2011 at 20:47

    An honest question: what do your parents think of you, and your views on children?

    • Francois Tremblay September 18, 2011 at 22:37

      My father has been dead for a long time. My mother does not know about my positions, because we don’t talk about politics or philosophy (she is a New Ager).
      As for what she thinks of me, you’d have to ask her. As far as I know, she has nothing against me and wishes me the best in life.

  40. Sharon May 5, 2012 at 02:23

    I don’t see why this entire concept is so hard for everyone to understand, its simple, our species needs to stop breeding… I personally want this so that earth and nature can be at peace once again with no species ruining it, doesn’t matter what our reasons though, we all need to stick to what we believe in and it doesn’t help arguing about another’s belief, its a waste of time which u can use on educating those who are interested… I love the idea of this entire concept and hope that more people can be open minded to see further than what they can see

  41. […] from those it creates itself? Can you justify sentience and the ability to feel pain? I’ve already argued that there is no justification for the perpetuation of the human race. Can you provide […]

  42. Canna Bliss November 26, 2012 at 19:23

    I just don’t want to cause another human being any potential pain or suffering. That is why I will never breed, and I would love for everyone to do the same, though I know how impossible that is. I will die, and others will continue to be selfish. People have children because they are missing something in life that they do not know how to achieve on their own.

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