Bioethics 33 (6):674-683 (2019)

Erik Magnusson
University of Manitoba
In this article I reconsider David Benatar's primary argument for anti‐natalism—the asymmetry argument—and outline a three‐step process for rejecting it. I begin in Part 2 by reconstructing the asymmetry argument into three main premises. I then turn in Parts 3–5 to explain how each of these premises is in fact false. Finally, I conclude in Part 6 by considering the relationship between the asymmetry argument and the quality of life argument in Benatar's overall case for anti‐natalism and argue that it is the latter argument that is actually doing the work. In this sense, the asymmetry argument is not only unsuccessful in generating Benatar's anti‐natalist conclusion, it is also unnecessary as well.
Keywords Anti-natalism  Asymmetry Argument  Quality of Life Argument  Procreative Ethics  David Benatar
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/bioe.12582
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,192
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

The Predicament That Wasn’T: A Reply to Benatar.Christine Vitrano - 2021 - Philosophical Papers 49 (3):457-484.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Antinatalism, Asymmetry, and an Ethic of Prima Facie Duties.Gerald Harrison - 2012 - South African Journal of Philosophy 31 (1):94-103.
Sick and Healthy: Benatar on the Logic of Value.Skott Brill - 2012 - South African Journal of Philosophy 31 (1):38-54.
Better No Longer to Be.Ema Sullivan-Bissett & Rafe Mcgregor - 2012 - South African Journal of Philosophy 31 (1):55-68.
Blinkered Objections to Bioethics: A Response to Benatar.J. Taylor - 2005 - Journal of Medical Ethics 31 (3):179-181.
Hooray for Babies.David Spurrett - 2011 - South African Journal of Philosophy 30 (2):197-206.
Better to Exist: A Reply to Benatar.S. D. Baum - 2008 - Journal of Medical Ethics 34 (12):875-876.
Is It Wrong to Impose the Harms of Human Life? A Reply to Benatar.David DeGrazia - 2010 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 31 (4):317-331.
Fatalism, Bivalence and the Past.Richard Gaskin - 1998 - Philosophical Quarterly 48 (190):83-88.
Asymmetry Arguments.Berislav Marušić - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (4):1081-1102.
Is Supervenience Asymmetric?John F. Post - 1999 - Manuscrito 22 (2):305-344.


Added to PP index

Total views
70 ( #164,281 of 2,507,125 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #140,021 of 2,507,125 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes