Document Type

Religion and Philosophy


In multiple works, David Benatar defends the view that it is immoral for parents to have children under any circumstance due to the suffering inherent in human life. This essay argues that Benatar’s anti-natalist argument is not successful because of its misidentification of the proper motive humans should have if they are to exist. Instead, I argue, the benefits of an ethical motive, if such a motive is properly instilled within a child by their parents or guardians, can surmount the suffering caused by existence. An ethical motive is characterized by the goal of alleviating suffering for others before oneself. Ultimately, the act of bringing a child into the world is morally permissible if the parents reasonably believe their child will both have an ethical motive and be able to succeed in accomplishing the duties which come with such a motive. If a child were to have this motive and be able to fulfill these duties, then a parent has nothing to regret in having a child.