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Every Cradle Is a Grave: Rethinking the Ethics of Birth and Suicide

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  193 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Millions of years ago, humans just happened. Accidents of environment and genetics contributed to the emergence of sentient beings like us. Today, however, people no longer "just happen"; they are created by the voluntary acts of other people.
This book examines several questions about the ethics of human existence. Is it a good thing, for humans, that humans "happened"?
Paperback, 220 pages
Published November 21st 2014 by Nine-Banded Books (first published July 16th 2013)
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Anita Dalton
Sarah Perry wrote this book from a place of philosophical intellectualism and factual integrity. She exhaustively researched the hows and whys of suicide and procreation and makes a very compelling case for making suicide accessible for people who do not want to live and for considering whether or not it is ethical to continue to create new humans whose lives may be more a burden to them than a gift. As she deftly picks apart the arguments against suicide and antinatalism, she bestows upon ...more
The Brain in the Jar
Two ideas are hard-wired into our minds. We believe life is good and that forcing people into existence is a positive thing not because of rational thinking. Genes make us think this way, because this is how they progress. Without these ideas, an organism kills itself and doesnt produce offspring. Genes die, and genes purpose is to continue.

People always killed themselves. Some cultures even claimed its virtuous in certain situations. Weve made huge progress (Or, more correctly, changes) over
Jun 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off, it probably is important to understand the author's background. After multiple failed attempts at suicide, she seems to have become frustrated with a world where social nicety prohibits you from even speaking about suicide. This book is her attempt to change this.
While I don't want to charge her with being biased in favor of one position, you might want to keep this in mind while reading the book.

Nevertheless this little book, only a little more than 200 pages in length, is dense
Chris Beiser
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a peculiar one. Probably not for the faint of heart, but I highly recommend it. I didnt find myself agreeing with every line, and I think Sarah is guilty of (unintentionally) minimizing the number of suicides that may be impulsive, but I walked away with a very different view of the ethics of birth and suicide.

After finishing it, I had a brief conversation with Sarah you can see the start of the thread here:
Jason Roy
Nov 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thought-provoking, insightful, and very well written. Highly recommended for people interested in moral philosophy, bioethics, or who just like to have their sacred beliefs challenged.
Jem Sandhu
The legal and moral arguments set out in this book will be of use to lawyers, policy-makers, and anyone else looking for counterarguments to the "pro-existence bias" present in conversations around, for example, abortion or euthanasia. However, this is far from a scholarly work: Perry cheapens her arguments with snide remarks about the life projects that people choose to give their lives meaning, preferring those undertakings that fit with her biases. So, graduate school is a "gamble", but ...more
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book about ethics. However, Sarah Perry is clear that people do not change their views on ethics from exposure to reasoned argument; so she is not out to persuade. She is also very clear that she is arguing points that most people would consider evil. Basically, that life is very bad and that people should not have babies or create aware beings (whose interests are very hard to predict before that being is created) and that suicide is not bad but an ethically rational response to the ...more
Ben Arzate
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a controversial book, for sure. However, it's one well worth reading. Perry's conclusions on the ethical implications of suicide and birth go completely against the grain. Even if you don't agree with them, this book will force you to rethink your views on life, meaning, and how the human mind works.

Full Review
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I've ever read. An unflinching, jarring book that took a lot of courage to write. If you want to challenge/doubt your most sacred, unquestionable beliefs, read this.
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is shockingly good.

I've always felt bad because I hated social constructions such as the wrongness of suicide and this book just pointed that I may not be in a bad morality after all. Maybe the world doesn't understand this yet.

I learned. I nodded continuously.
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
one of the easier anti-natalist positions to be completely unconvinced by if your not also inclined to believe oversimplisitic and at times wilfully ignorant and contradictory narratives like 'zeitgeist' and hypernormalisation
Morally challenging, interesting and very well written.
Art Staraverov
Dec 04, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
250 pages of depression masquerading as philosophy and logic.

The authoress wasted their time because they said in 250 pages what can be said in a single sentence: every child will suffer and die, therefore creating children is bad. Does that mean creating scientists is bad because then scientists will suffer and die? Scientists make vaccines which increase the population, and thus the number of children, so according to the authoress, even the scientists are bad themselves! Clearly, the
David Kwak
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very reasonable book that's ahead of its time.

Perry argues that the topic of suicide in our society is taboo and filled with misinformation due to the "sacred" values that we hold about life and meaning. It's intriguing to think through the full ramifications of a world where suicide is readily available and accepted ("free disposal").

Perry also discusses antinatalism, whether it's moral to bring another life into existence. I particularly like Benatar's asymmetry argument: "Preventing bad
The first chapter is great for someone who has never been confronted with the immense stigma of suicidality and doesn't understand it.

But reading the next chapter I had to put it down, because her use of terms like "meaning, value, purpose, belonging, status, self-worth, etc.." shows - in my opinion - that she has not really constructed a solid philosophical framework to build upon. She doesn't define these terms, or not sufficiently, uses them interchangeably, uses them too loosely. Since this
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pain and suffering are real. This book does not praise suicide and antinatalism, but takes a step back and goes into a thorough discussion of the subject. Is it truly a good thing to have been born in the first place? The questions and subjects in this book are not often talked about, and when they are, it's often with a lot of censorship. This book can open your mind to think critically about two very important subjects regarding everyone alive, and yet to be born.

Some chapters are slow and
Alex Cummings
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perry's book is a bracing new take on the question of natalism vs. antinatalism, i.e. whether it's good to be alive and whether it's good to create new life. She advances her argument with clarity and erudition, and the audacity of the basic thesis is refreshing, but the author also seems to be incredibly stubborn in refusing to consider any other rationales for the value of life itself. It also seems like there is some strange right-wing politics lurking around in the background, for what it's ...more
Stephen Douglas Rowland
2½. Interesting arguments, but I feel the whole is unfocused.
Kevin Svartvit
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes flawed in its conclusions or assumptions which seems to be mostly caused by a very invested author. Thought provoking and fascinating nonetheless. ...more
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Changed my view on both the cradle and the grave.
Read it.
Dec 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Some pretty challenging ideas. Mostly suicide, not so much antinatalism. Arguments are mostly coherent but at times felt like conclusions were foregone.
Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Thoroughly enjoyed reading a more well thought out rationalisation of my own views. Author is weirdly sexist at points though.
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anti-natalism
The perfect mixture of "well-researched" and "witty".
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