Friday, September 5, 2008

Apologies...

for tardiness in moderating your comments, Anonymous. Internet difficulties.

Meanwhile, a couple of new links concerning David Benatar's book...

http://crookedtimber.org/2008/09/03/better-never-to-have-been/

http://whippersnapper.wordpress.com/2008/09/03/from-the-annals-of-moral-philosophy/

Enjoy! (Thanks, Chip!)

P.S. I'd encourage anyone to read anonymous's recent comments; due to internet difficulties, I'm afraid I gave them less than my full attention in my haste to get them posted before I lost access again. I'd also like to extend my thanks to anonymous, and to the rest of you who take the time to comment here. Much appreciated!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi,

In all these discussions, there seem to be very few references to the meaning (or lack of it) in life. After all, I think antinatalism's greatest asset is not that it simply says: "Oh, look, your child might suffer pain in his/her life before dying - so don't have the child" but that it says the same thing but with the word "aimless" used to describe the life of the child. The words "good" and "bad" are also used far too frequently without rigorous philosophical definition and grounding in context. Similarly, with "pain" and "pleasure".

Another aspect which seems to be ignored is the practicality of antinatalism. It's a great philosophy but attacks too many of mankind's delusions for it to be widely accepted. Out of the "carrot" and "stick" approaches to ending suffering, the world population (as well as the cross-cultural, strong genetic expression of various emotional traits) has gone well past the critical point where advising people to cease reproduction is going to have any material effect. It's time for the stick approach, viz. technology to instantly vaporize vast swathes of population with a click of a button. That way, at least human cooperation is not an essential part of the process, and it is feasible that in the not-too-distant future, such technology may well be made available to smaller groups of highly wealthy individuals and may not require government cooperation.

Sticking with antinatalism, it seems to be forgotten that a very large percentage of the world has religious convictions, the majority of these being covered by Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. Very little of the discussion has focused on their concerns, apart from a brief foray into the "eternal damnation in Hell" argument. God, souls, duality, some very tricky issues to grapple with, IMHO.

Let's all hope the Large Hadron Collider coughs up a stable mini-black hole, and also that Hawking radiation doesn't exist - the rest is silence, eh?

koningrobot said...

Pleasure and pain are equal to good and bad, respectively. Good is whatever you consider good. Bad is whatever you consider bad.

The point is that there are things to love and things to hate for everyone. How these are balanced does not matter because of The Asymmetry (in my own words: when you're dead, you don't get the pain and you don't long for the pleasure).

We all know antinatalism won't be easy to spread, but we believe in trying.

Curator said...

Nice video, brother.

your host said...

Ah, did you catch it? Thanks! I'm aiming at a series...hopefully they'll get better with practice. Might even add some pictures! LOL!

compoverde said...

Jim, excellent idea to do a video series! It was a good introduction. Please put out more soon, and you can even go crazy and add some animation or video recordings. Hey, maybe you can plug my site as well ;). But youtube videos are definatley the next step in teaching the antinatalist philosophy.

Anonymous said...

Anti-natalists make some very intelligent points, although I think the Benatar pleasure-pain asymmetry is specious. Even without that asymmetry, it's true that too many people have children who shouldn't have children, and even if it's OK for some people to have children, too many of *those* people have more children than they should.

But here's a worry I haven't seen addressed. Millions of stupid and superstitious (i.e., religious) people around the world will never be convinced by anti-natalists, and they'll continue to have children just as often as they now do. The more that intelligent, non-superstitious people -- persuaded by anti-natalism -- refrain from having children, the more the world will come to be dominated by the children of the stupid and superstitious, who because of both heredity and upbringing will continue to spread stupidity and superstition. Even anti-natalists should recognize that we have some duty to future generations not to leave them a badly polluted world, including a world badly polluted by stupidity and superstition. So people smart enough to be anti-natalist are stuck in a moral bind. How to resolve it?

--Houyhnhm

your host said...

Anonymous: Sorry for the late response; I'm kinda busy these days.

Your argument sounds like the plot from the film 'Idiocracy'. Seen it? I haven't gotten around to it yet, though I've seen some clips.

From the standpoint of the antinatalist argument, I'm not sure your hypothetical scenario is much different than what we have now...sans a few IQ points, perhaps. Would a slightly more stupid populace breed more? Probably. On the other hand, they might not have the ability to sustain an ever-growing world population over the long run.
Either way, I think we have a responsibility to truth first of all, and let the chips fall where they may. I'm chiefly interested in wedging the argument into the public discourse.

Whatever else may happen, remember:

Every person who is born will ultimately suffer, and die. Procreation is a no-win situation.