Arguments Against Natalism, Sexuality, and Love

|| Lecture Notes from the 97th Diogenesis Lecture on 2021/11/21 ||



Parts of this lecture have appeared in prior lectures before, but these parts have never been presented together 
and there's a lot of new material here, so bear with me if parts of this sound like a broken record. To open, I 
want to go over the definitions of the terms in the lecture title so there's no confusion as to what aspects of 
these ideas we are invectively attacking.

Natalism refers to a worldview that promotes the reproduction of human life, specifically via child-bearing and 
parenthood. Sexuality refers to sexual attraction to like-kind organisms for the purpose or result of 
reproduction. Love, for this lecture, will refer to the kind of emotion associated with sexual attraction and 
reproductive behaviors. There should be a clear teleological or narrative trajectory here - that natalism is the 
starting position of reproduction being good, as a mere proposition, that sexuality is the biological imperative 
towards reproduction, and love is the sometimes discursive or conscious actions taken towards enacting 
reproduction. These three things together form a sort of reproduction trinity; I will argue against all three 
individually and then I will argue against all of them together - that if any one of these 3 things is wrong, 
then they all are. Near the end of the lecture we will also go over some possible solutions to these problems. 
The general view I am presenting here can be thought of sloganistically as, "we must seize the means of 
reproduction," or at the very least, have a fundamentally better understanding of it so that it doesn't continue 
to run rampant and destroy the planet.

While the title lays the topics out in order of natalism, sexuality, and love, I will be going through these in 
reverse order. Starting with love, I will ignore standard arguments for love like those from Plato's Symposium 
and instead read a quote from one of the founding society members, Lynn:

>  The late astronomer Carl Sagan made a good point when he said that people's warlike tendencies may destroy 
>  global society, and that extraterrestrial societies might find them puzzling.
>  However, it is also true that human love is an incredibly destructive force. Human greed is very often driven 
>  by the desire for love, as wasteful, otherwise pointless displays of material consumption are often an 
>  essential part of finding a mate. If hate will result in nuclear winter, love is putting us on the path to 
>  catastrophic climate change. 
>  Love also blinds one to the faults of human beings, and creates a toxic atmosphere of tolerance where these 
>  fatal flaws are essentially allowed to remain totally unchecked, notwithstanding claims one who feels love 
>  towards others makes to the contrary.
>  Extraterrestrial societies that tolerate anything like human love probably do not last very long. Ones that 
>  survive to become spacefarers probably do not know anything we would recognize as love. Either they never 
>  knew it or, perhaps more likely, they have found a way to engineer it out of their being and put their 
>  primitive past behind them for good.

So people talk about things like the environmental impact of oil or Bitcoin, but the vast majority of material 
consumption, and thereby the environmental impact of the global economy, has to do with status displays akin to 
peacocking. This means love is not a productive but instead a destructive force.

Moving to sexuality, we had a prior lecture called the The Triple A Club where we went over asexuality as being 
a trending consequence of systemic relationship failure, and the recent articles posted about the steady decline 
of emotional intelligence also probably help explain this trend of younger people not desiring romantic 
relationships. But in any case, I believe that sexuality is inherently absurd, meaning ultimately not 
justifiable. You can point to biological necessity for survival of the species, but procreation for species 
survival is not an individual requirement, it's a requirement of the species as an amalgam, meaning that no 
individual is required to procreate for the species to survive but rather some conglomerate needs to procreate. 
There is no individual responsibility here, if you don't want to procreate you don't need to and the species 
does not cease to exist by your lack of individual contribution. The absurdity then is that since no one is 
required to procreate, there is also no amalgam you could deign as being required to procreate either, and yet 
without an amalgam procreating, the species does not survive.

Additionally, of all the biological urges, sexual urges are the only ones not required for the individual to 
survive. Hunger, sleep, breathing - all the other biological urges are necessary for the individual to persist, 
but orgasm is not. So there is no biological necessity for individual sexuality. If you move then to arguing 
that sexuality is required or necessitated in some other way for human relationships to be possible or healthy 
or maintained or whatever, consider that sexual orientation in the vast majority of people is highly restrictive 
and limiting, usually resulting in possible attraction to less than half the available population. We make 
friendships and relations with people that we aren't sexually attracted to all the time and this doesn't seem to 
really reduce the pleasure attained by those relations for most people, but even if it did, most people would 
then only be capable of sexual relations with a swiftly minoritizing number of others. I argue that since 
sexuality could not be consistently or universally applied to society by an individual because of its 
restrictive nature, it thereby cannot be inherently good. If this is not a clear argument to you, refer to 
Kantian or other universalization frameworks in ethics for how this operates. So if it is not inherently good, 
it at best has a neutral and ineffective application in the world, and at worst it is a great evil that causes 
massive psychological and environmental harm.

On top of all this, the fact that almost no one knows where their sexuality comes from beyond the standard 
biological or classical Freudian explanations means they are operating under the principle that, "they are just 
born that way," as if that acts as a justification for their sexuality. The sexual orientation that makes people 
more likely to rape is an orientation they are supposedly born with, but would we say that justifies them going 
out and raping? Of course not, that would be absurd and it's absurd for obvious and intuitive reasons that don't 
take a nuanced understanding of formal ethics to realize. What this means is that most people cannot justify 
their sexuality (again because 'they were just born that way' which is handwaving) and this means that enacting 
your sexuality anyways would be pathological in the Žižekian sense. And for those who didn't already know, a 
pathology is a mental disorder. Another way to say what I've been saying here is that 'we are all degenerates in 
the eyes of God' lol.

I also want to attack the notion that people are born with their sexuality. I think this is overtly false. 
Children do not have sexuality. Before you try to argue against that statement, think about what you would 
really be saying there lol. Children are by definition pre-pubescent, which means they cannot possibly take part 
in the act of procreation, and are thus inherently non-sexual. So you are not born with your sexuality. This 
means it must be trained into you; the source of that training being nature or nurture or some mix of the two is 
no longer relevant since either way it is a training and not a given component of your existence.

With love and sexuality down, we move to natalism. There are various interesting anti-natalist arguments you can 
find from lesser known philosophers, but the main argument I want to look at is with natalism in the context of 
ethical frameworks in the near future. What I mean by this is that I believe natalism doesn't have a place in a 
world with severe overpopulation. A lot of laypeople think the planet is currently overpopulated, which is not 
true, the problem a small handful of cities face is overcrowding not overpopulation and the problems of 
overpopulation regarding food supplies and things of that nature will take many more decades to really effect 
everyone globally, so I'm not making the claim that natalism is wrong because we're overpopulated, I'm making 
the claim that natalism is wrong because it's going to make us overpopulated. The component of natalism that 
says reproduction should be promoted qua child-bearing and parenthood is the problem here because child-bearing 
and parenthood are quantitatively ambiguous outcomes. When a human becomes pregnant it is not known beforehand 
if they will become pregnant with one child, or two, or eight. And further, 'parenthood' as a concept leaves the 
door wide open for many pregnancies by the same parent.

Because natalism necessitates human pregnancy, there becomes an exponential growth rate of the global population 
that is simply not tenable. Here is a chart of the global population of the last few hundred years (expand 'All 
our charts on World Population Growth' and select 'Historical world population: comparison of different sources' 
here - https://ourworldindata.org/world-population-growth). Giant exponential spike. This is not okay. This does 
not end well. Several think tanks have said the problem will correct itself because with less food available 
less people will procreate, and while less food is a light suppressant on geographic birthrates, we don't have 
to look further than the least fed people to see the highest birthrates and wonder if the academics really 
figured this one out. African countries with serious food shortages have no shortage of pregnancies nor number 
of children birthed per pregnancy (https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2015/02/06/the-size-of-it). 
This, as our global trajectory, is not viable. We cannot sustain this path.

Aside from the problem of overpopulation, I think procreation qua parenthood is also a worthy target for the 
anti-natalists, especially if you've read The Republic by Plato. There are convincing arguments in there that 
children should be raised by broader society rather than a nuclear family, in fact, despite the greater majority 
of The Republic having nothing to do with how kids are raised, the book was still known in medieval times 
primarily for the abolition of the nuclear family; funny historical note. I don't particularly care to go over 
Plato's arguments for this and even if I did there's convincing psychological evidence that nuclear families are 
probably better anyways, so I'll move on from this. The main takeaway I want you to have here is that natalism 
as the starting position that reproduction is an inherent good does not pan out. If it was inherently good then 
it would not be possible for it to do harm. This makes it such that natalism cannot be a good here.

I have argued against natalism, sexuality, and love individually, but now you should consider how they work 
together. As stated in the introduction to this lecture, natalism is the starting position of reproduction being 
good, as a mere proposition, sexuality is the biological imperative towards that reproduction, love is the 
sometimes discursive or conscious actions taken towards enacting reproduction, and these three things together 
form a sort of reproduction trinity. Because of this I believe that each relies on the other, and so if any one 
of them is wrong, or doesn't work, then they all fail. If you don't understand this, speak up now or forfeit 
your future objections to the counter.

So finally, if anything I've said makes sense and you think there may be a real problem here, then what are the 
potential solutions for these problems? I believe an anti-natalist position works well in solving part but not 
all of this. I think asexualism may be another requirement, and even possibly the active repression of sexual 
love.

This section effectively ended the lecture despite us discussing these solutions for a long period of time 
after this. Listen to the audio recording if you want to hear all the back and forth on this.