Thursday, March 31, 2011

Follow Up Post to Triablogue Dialogue

I recently challenged Christians to answer a hypothetical in order to demonstrate the logical validity of the antinatalism argument. I was planning on waiting awhile before I posted this follow-up, but I think I've gotten enough of a response to proceed. To anyone anticipating a point by point rebuttal of all the apologetical fare that's been offered, I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed. While I appreciate all the fervor and straining at gnats you've poured into your replies (in a perverse sort of way, I'll admit), my motive was always a very simple one, that being to wrest an admission from the opposition that there are indeed times when it would be better for a person not to be brought into existence. Naturally, by 'better' I meant for the person in question, and not for those who might exploit that person's existence for their own ends- be they God or man- all the while justifying that exploitation along the way. And ultimately that's all religious apologetics boils down to in the end, justification for questionable deeds and things gone wrong. At least, that's my perspective on the whole rigamarole.

In what I hope turns out to be a relatively brief argument, I purpose to limit my talking points and extrapolations to one strain of the antinatalist argument, having to do with risk. We begin with the very basic proposition that there are indeed times when it would be better not to bring a child into existence. Better against whose or what standard, you might ask? Namely, by anyone's standard who grants the basic premise, and for whatever reason inside themselves they feel justifies their opinion: Compassion, moral outrage, empathy, God's edict, God's hidden agenda...what have you. As long as you have a reason for accepting the baseline proposition, my argument will apply to you. All others feel free to stop reading now.

Ok, then. Is everyone on board? We begin.

1. We believe existence operates in such a way that, at least sometimes, it would be better not to bring a child into existence.
2. Since none of us have complete foreknowledge, each choice to bring a child into existence is to expose him/her to the risks that would justify ACCORDING TO OUR OWN STANDARDS not bringing him/her into existence.
3. Therefore, it is better not to bring children into existence.

LOL! Did I just hear the sound of an Christian apologist's body hitting the floor in an apoplectic seizure? No matter, there are more where he/she came from. But on a more serious note, since point 1 of my little syllogism has already been stipulated as a given, and point 2 is simply a statement of fact that I doubt anyone would seriously contend, then what we're left to debate is point 3, the conclusion. Of course, this is the real meat of the issue, isn't it? Does the conclusion necessarily flow from logic? I believe it does, but let's consider some challenges I've paraphrased for the sake of brevity:

Your conclusion takes an extreme form of risk aversion. After all, almost everything we do involves some measure of risk, from mountain climbing, to driving a car, to putting our socks on in the morning.

The kinds of risk you're talking about are of the post facto persuasion, occupying a spectrum of degrees of necessity which are, indeed, endemic to the life process. However, no such existential necessities abide in the non-existential realm of potential states, including that most fundamental act of manifesting those potential states in the form of new life, which is what we're talking about here. And consider if this were not so! There are already an uncountable number of human beings queued up at the potentially existent ingress point, and the numbers are growing as fast as we can wield our imaginations. Is the universe forever destined to sink into a black hole of deficiency under the weight of those who might have been, but are not? Thus on the one hand, we take risks as part of the process of daily living, but these risks result from the desires and necessities of people who already exist, while the non-existent have no desires or necessities, thus no reasons to take risks. Or perhaps I should say, have no need for others (parents) to take risks for them in the name of their own desires and necessities.

As in gambling, there is a cost/benefit aspect of the argument that's being ignored here.

Fine and good, as long as you're gambling with your own money.

God says be fruitful and multiply, and I choose to do what God says.

It seems that God has lots of things to say, including investing different people with different interpretations of what He has to say. But don't tell me that every decision you make has God's seal of approval writ in stone and hanging about your neck. And when He says to be fruitful, is he speaking particularly to you, or indeed to every Christian? If so, how do you know when to stop...being fruitful, that is? Are condoms condemned? Does the intra-uterine coil really represent a spiraling down into Dante's inferno? And how about them rhythm methoders? Sneaky bastards, and as if God can't read a calendar! Also, can you really tell me that more mundane matters regarding issues such as money and free time in the life of most Christians you know don't impinge on the fulfillment of God's Official Fertility Commission? I'd also like to know if ANYBODY believes they'll receive more than a slap on the wrist for negating the chance of an extremely uncomfortable eternal existence for a child who was supposedly conceived in love. Don't we owe our potential progeny more than this existential crapshoot where, if you lose, you lose BIG TIME, and FOREVER?

And, of course, there's that little problem of exploitation rearing its ugly head, creating children and with it risking their eternal souls, simply to suck up to a deity who could raise them up out of the dust Himself if He really needs the accolades that badly.

Maybe having a child is selfish, but so what as long as the child also benefits?

Making children is ALWAYS selfish, and ALWAYS exploitive for one reason or another. I defy anyone to name an instance where this is not so, either consciously or as a result of thoughtless consummation. And after the deed is done, all that's left is a baseless hope that things work out reasonably well along the way, and for theists and other brands of dualists, in the hereafter. Also, there's the question of whether or not a non-existent entity benefits by being dragged out of its potential state into the world of experiential ups and downs. Does a stone benefit if we grant it the 'gift' of hunger? Sure, there's Thai food to be had, but there's also indigestion, not to mention starvation and food poisoning. How much corn could a rock upchuck if a rock could upchuck corn?

Ok, that's about it for now. I realize lots more can be said, but I can expand on these ideas via comments and challenges in the thread. Thanks to my Christian visitors for their comments. I hope none of you feel offended that I didn't delve more deeply into your apologetical misgivings/mitigations, but I'm an old hand at those conversations and am well versed in the non-utility of chasing epistemological rabbits down those particular holes. If you bring up some relevant objections or point out things I've missed, I'll be glad to address them as I find the time. But be warned! If your justifications come window-dressed with point-by-point refutations of Calvinist doctrine, or pontifications on how Hegelian synthesis merges flawlessly with Jesus' teaching on the efficacy of pinhead dancing, you should know that I nod off rather quickly. :)

Be well, one and all.

P.S. I might also note that death, that most dreaded of realities which both Christian and heathen alike do their best to avoid for as long as possible, is not a risk taken on the behalf of those with no mouths yet to scream, but a certainty. And while there's always hope for a brighter ephemeral tomorrow from some quarters (keep those fingers crossed), the absence of death, with all its concomitant anxieties leading up to it as well as the possible sanctions for having your 't's crossed wrong, is guaranteed to all those who were never born in the first place.

P.S.S. Try to limit your points and challenges to one at a time, so as to avoid convolution. It's really easy to get off track in these conversations otherwise.

87 comments:

Shadow said...

Haha, Jim strikes again.

The more I reflect and ponder the anti-birth ideas, I see that is flawless. That indeed is selfish to have kids, even if that kid was made "in love" with a high-school sweetheart you still are in love to this day.

No one can really step up, and say that having kids is not selfish. and that we are not gambling with him/her very destiny. That point, in the anti-birth 'doctrine', is titanium solid.

You can only deny this if you are a lunatic and a theist, or both.

Keep shooting, J.C.

metamorphhh said...

Thanks, Shadow. On a wholly unrelated note, can you believe that after not having a flat tire for 5 years, I've had two in the last week, one on each of my bikes equipped with supposedly 'bulletproof' tires? Such are the risks of the commute, and I wouldn't wish them on anybody :)

Shadow said...

Indeed the risks of commuting. People need to be aware of it! Lol ;)

rob said...

I don't think that, using pure logic, from 1 and 2 it follows that 3 must be true.
The "risks" from 2 could be disjunct from the "sometimes" of 1. Because not having _complete_ foreknowledge doesn't mean that we know nothing. And knowing _something_ could be enough to be sure that the cases where 1 would matter do not apply to a specific potential child.

Silly example:
1: true, if I think it would be better not to exist than to be born in north-korea.
2: true, if I don't know if my child will die from cancer at age 3.
3: not true, if I believe that cancer is not a big deal, but I can be 100% certain that my child will be born in europe.

metamorphhh said...

It seems to me this could only be true IF we could achieve an absolute division of the hypothetically realized risk factors in 2 from the premise in 1, which means we'd have to be able to secure '100% certainty' non-fulfillment of every imaginable instance of 1 to eliminate the risk factor of 2. For instance, in your example cancer is no big deal, so it was never part of the inventory of 1 to begin with. However, N. Korea is a deal breaker for you, but without foreknowledge how can you know that your child will never be born there. I mean, you can take appropriate measures to stack the deck in your favor, but technically it's still a risk, therefore being part of the inventory of 1 that MIGHT possibly be realized in 2. And as I'm sure you know, many of the risks unacceptable to those who buy into 1's premise can manifest themselves mostly to entirely out of our control, from random acts of violence, to disease, to natural disaster, etc.

I hope I've answered you. If I've missed your point somehow, please let me know.

filrabat said...

You know, I used to say "Selfishness isn't the real issue, for everybody's actions regarding procreation (childfree or not) are selfish because we're all speaking for those who can't speak for themselves by our actions or inactions".

But the more I think about it, the more I believe that refusing to procreate on philanthropic grounds is not selfish in the least. Non-existent people have no desires to be met, including the desire to exist / be alive. Natalists, OTOH, have to consider the downsides of life - the justness of "The Rules of the Game", so to speak. The non-existent people, as stated, have no desires for anything nor fears of anything - including life itself, and its end thereof; not to mention the consequences between birth and death.

As francoistremblay said on his blog, the Burden of Proof is not necessarily placed on the minority opinion, but on those who make a positive claim (i.e., The one who claims "Something IS so" has the burden to prove the claim actually is objectively so, regardless of what the claimant wishes).

Therefore, it's the Natalists who have the burden to prove both the following:

1)It's good to bring a child into this kind of world / universe.

2)The non-existent child will always want to live in this kind of world

3)The human race truly must (in the moral sense) continue to exist, regardless of whether the majority want it to continue existing (i.e., "Humanity must (in the moral sense) continue" is true in spite of our what our survial-instinct-encoded-DNA tells us -- not because it tells us.

rob said...

@metamorphhh
In general I agree. Many people will probably have factors in 1 of which they cannot be certain that they will not happen. So the argument will work in many concrete cases.
I just wanted to point out that, standing for themselves, 3 is not a mandatory conclusion for all possible 1 and 2.
Nitpicking, maybe :-)
All the best,
rob

metamorphhh said...

No prob, rob! :) Glad you're around to sharpen the blade.

Anonymous said...

Hi metamorphhh,

You said:

"1. We believe existence operates in such a way that, at least sometimes, it would be better not to bring a child into existence.
2. Since none of us have complete foreknowledge, each choice to bring a child into existence is to expose him/her to the risks that would justify ACCORDING TO OUR OWN STANDARDS not bringing him/her into existence.
3. Therefore, it is better not to bring children into existence."

1. First I'll note this is actually a different argument from your original argument or hypothetical challenge. Your original hypothetical was trying to argue that, given Christianity, it's too great of a risk for a Christian to have a child because the child would likely end up in hell since "narrow is the way, and few there be that find it." It was an attempted internal critique of Christianity. However this new argument is a different and broader argument. For example, central to your new argument here is "OUR OWN STANDARDS" which, obviously, one's own standards would vary according to an individual or group. Certainly a Christian's standards are not identical to a Muslim's or a Buddhist's or an atheist's standards! Again, you're arguing a different argument than the original argument you brought up.

I point this out for two reasons:

a. If an individual raises an objection (e.g. your original hypothetical), the objection is answered (e.g. by Steve, Matt, and me) without a reasonable rejoinder from anyone else (e.g. no antinatalist has responded with an argument that overturns our responses), and the same individual then raises a new objection (e.g. this new argument), then it'd be reasonable to conclude that that's a tacit concession that the same individual has lost the original argument.

Or to put it another way: Let's say Johnny screams, "There's a monster under my bed!" Mom and Dad rush in, turn on the lights, and look under the bed. They don't see a monster. But then Johnny's little sister Jane quietly whispers, "But the monster ran into the closet!" So Mom and Dad open the closet and don't see a monster there either. Although maybe they see a teddy bear that might look like a monster if it's in the dark. They point this out to Johnny and Jane. Then Johnny and Jane shout, "But monsters only come out if it's dark!" So Mom and Dad turn off the lights. They stay in the room with Johnny and Jane. They look under the bed and in the closest. And they still don't see a monster. Now Johnny and Jane sing a different tune. They say, "We wanna watch Frankenstein on TV again!" (Or insert whatever other tangentially related topic you want.) At this point, it'd probably be reasonable to conclude that there actually is no monster under Johnny and Jane's bed. (Not to mention a few other things such as the fact that maybe watching Frankenstein might've caused Johnny and Jane to imagine monsters under their bed in the first place! And that they'll probably be sleeping with Mom and Dad tonight.)

b. You made the following comment: "As for Triablogue's response, I plan on sticking to my 'one challenge at a time' rule, and here's why..." So you have a "one challenge at a time" rule. However, given that this is a new argument, you've just broken your own rule!

However, if it's okay for you to break your own rule, then why is it not okay for us to do the same?

Anonymous said...

2. As far as your new argument, it's actually quite easily refutable.

If bringing a child into existence exposes the child to risks that would justify not bringing the child into existence according to our own standards, then what's acceptably or unacceptably risky is based on our own standards. However, my standards aren't necessarily the same as your standards. So if according to my own standards of what's acceptably risky it is acceptably risky to bring a child into existence, then I'm justified in bringing a child into existence according to my own standards.

If it's true someone can justify x according to his or her own standards of what's acceptably risky, then someone can justify not x according to his or her own standards of what's acceptably risky. If you can justify not bringing a child into existence because you think it's too risky to have kids according to your own standards, then I can justify bringing a child into existence because I don't think it's too risky to have kids according to my own standards.

After all, maybe Marge Simpson has really high standards of what's acceptably risky while Turanga Leela has really low standards of what's acceptably risky. Or maybe she has no standards at all.

In other words, we could easily turn your argument around since your argument is based on one's own standards of what's acceptable or unacceptable risk which can vary between individuals.

3. You said: "Making children is ALWAYS selfish, and ALWAYS exploitive for one reason or another. I defy anyone to name an instance where this is not so, either consciously or as a result of thoughtless consummation"

Let's say we agree this is true. If it's true, then what's wrong with being selfish? Walking along the beach by myself to enjoy the sand and surf is selfish. But what's wrong with that? Reading a book by myself is selfish. But what's wrong that? Eating a delicious chocolate ice cream by myself is selfish. But what's wrong with that?

Shadow said...

Anonymus,

Let me answer number 3 too.

First of all why is reading a book by yourself selfish? You can only quite read well alone, that´s why we don´t have "book theaters" or something.

Lots of things you mentioned are not selfish per se, only in a "weak selfish" kinda way. Walking doesnt need to be a selfish routine.

The problem with your argument is that you are IMPOSING life on someone else. That´s the problem. When it´s selfishness that only can harm or benefit YOU, that is completely OK. But when you bring SOMEONE ELSE to existence you are being selfish at the EXPENSE of ANOTHER human being.

The caps lock was only to make the points. I´m not yelling. Do you get it now?
=)

Grifman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Shadow said:

"The problem with your argument is that you are IMPOSING life on someone else. That´s the problem."

Of course, I could turn this around and say that the problem is that an antinatalist is imposing his or her anti-life view on someone else. For example, an antinatalist is imposing his or her view that people shouldn't make children onto natalists. So if your argument cuts against natalists, then it also cuts against antinatalists.

"When it´s selfishness that only can harm or benefit YOU, that is completely OK. But when you bring SOMEONE ELSE to existence you are being selfish at the EXPENSE of ANOTHER human being."

By what standard do you make this claim? Your own or someone else's?

Grifman said...

The problem I see with anti-natalism is that real life experience/results argues against it. The vast majority of people do not choose suicide - they seem to think life is worth living even though anti-natalists think things are so bad these same people should have never been born.

While you have explained on your site why you don't choose suicide, I don't see where you have explained why others don't, if things are as bad as you claim.

Derek said...

"The problem with your argument is that you are IMPOSING life on someone else. That´s the problem. When it´s selfishness that only can harm or benefit YOU, that is completely OK. But when you bring SOMEONE ELSE to existence you are being selfish at the EXPENSE of ANOTHER human being."

With anon I ask, so what? What if I like being selfish? The above argument only works if Christians and antinatalists share the same moral epistemology. But you guys (as antinatalists) can't ground that epistemology in anything real. What if I like bringing babies into this world so I can cut their heads off when they turn 10? Who would you be to tell me that's wrong?

Anonymous said...

Derek said:

"With anon I ask, so what? What if I like being selfish? The above argument only works if Christians and antinatalists share the same moral epistemology."

If it's the case that we don't "share the same moral epistemology," then you can't tell me that having babies is wrong either. So what's the point of pushing antinatalism onto Christians.

"But you guys (as antinatalists) can't ground that epistemology in anything real."

An assertion desperately seeking an argument.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Derek misread your comment to say natalists rather than antinatalists. But antinatalists would still have to respond.

timcooijmans said...

The "real ground" is the bottom line that pain and suffering suck. You hate pain and suffering, I hate pain and suffering, everyone hates pain and suffering. Therefore it is non-subjectively good to prevent, avoid and diminish pain and suffering.

Anonymous said...

timcooijmans said:

"The 'real ground' is the bottom line that pain and suffering suck. You hate pain and suffering, I hate pain and suffering, everyone hates pain and suffering. Therefore it is non-subjectively good to prevent, avoid and diminish pain and suffering."

I think the masochist would beg to differ!

Compoverde said...

Jim, started a meetup group. Anyone located in Colorado should stop by.

Grifman said...

timcooijmans said:

"The "real ground" is the bottom line that pain and suffering suck. You hate pain and suffering, I hate pain and suffering, everyone hates pain and suffering. Therefore it is non-subjectively good to prevent, avoid and diminish pain and suffering."

The real ground is the bottom line that pleasure is wonderful. You love pleasure, I love pleasure, everyone loves pleasure. Therefor it is non-subjectively good to allow, promote and sustain pleasure.

timcooijmans, meet Mr. Petard :)

Grifman said...

The problem with the proposed argument in the OP is that it can be turned on itself:

1. We believe existence operates in such a way that, at least sometimes, it would be better to bring a child into existence than not.
2. Since none of us have complete foreknowledge, each choice to bring a child into existence is to expose him/her to the benefits/rewards that would justify ACCORDING TO OUR OWN STANDARDS bringing him/her into existence.
3. Therefore, it is better to bring children into existence.

IMO, both arguments are flawed. The reason why is that neither assess cost/benefit, risk vs. reward. This is not addressed anywhere.

There are risks to everything but that's all the anti-natalists are focused on. I see no consideration of the possible joys and benefits of life. Nor an assessment of the probabilities of pain/suffering vs. joy/happiness.

Example - it's risky to drive. Doing so exposes one to the possibility of a horrible death by burning due to an accident. Yet I suspect most of us, natalists and anti-natalists drive anyway. Why? One because the benefits of traveling are so great. And because the risk of a horrible death by burning or so low. Yet applying the logic of the OP means that none of us would choose to drive because we would assume the worst. Yet none of us lives this way.

Grifman said...

"Jim, started a meetup group. Anyone located in Colorado should stop by."

Put another way, Jim, so to speak, is "giving birth" to a new group? Oh, the irony :)

That said, it is possible that this group might fail, be a disappointment, even lead to disputes and personal disagreements and emotional suffering. If avoiding pain and suffering is paramount, why even begin such a group?

Indeed, it would be selfish to start up such a group, knowing that emotional suffering or worse might result.

Ravel said...

"While you have explained on your site why you don't choose suicide, I don't see where you have explained why others don't, if things are as bad as you claim."

Fear of death? Survival instinct? Killing yourself has to be one of the most scariest moments in your life, your entire body fighting against you and yet a million each year succeed. These are the others excluding the suicide attempts (i think Sister Y talked about this once).

Ravel said...

numbers* in place of *others, :s

Anonymous said...

FILRABAT HERE

Looks like a lot is going on starting Friday! Unfortunately, I'm at my mom's house for the weekend - in a remote rural area with extremely limited internet access (obviously I can read the comments, but I have trouble posting). I'll be back in two days (three at most).

I may be late to this party, but I don't plan to miss it entirely

timcooijmans said...

The following post will be me, posted anonymously because this cranky Blogger system is having its period again.

Anonymous said...

A masochist would not disagree with what I said -- he simply has a different definition of pain and/or suffering. If a masochist loves pain, what does he think of painless periods, or even pleasurable periods? I doubt that masochism is that simple anyway, but this is the deal.

Grifman, the same does not go for pleasure because a life filled with pleasure is still worthless, in the sense that if you did not exist, you would not be crying over the pleasure you are missing out on.

In life, you often have to settle for less than perfect because all the other options are even worse. But that is _in_ life. It does not apply when you are considering whether or not to create a new person. They are not harmed by never existing.

So yes, being able to travel is great. But where would your unborn kid need to go? On vacation? It doesn't need to go on vacation because it does not have a job. It doesn't need a job because it does not need money. It doesn't need money because it does not need to survive. It doesn't need to survive because it does not exist. There is no reason travel should be great for this unborn kid of yours.

Grifman said...

Ravel said:

"Fear of death? Survival instinct? Killing yourself has to be one of the most scariest moments in your life, your entire body fighting against you and yet a million each year succeed. These are the others excluding the suicide attempts (i think Sister Y talked about this once)."

So you're just guessing then? I assert that the fact that the vast majority of people do not commit suicide is prima facie evidence that most people think life is worth living. This is a huge gap you have to overcome. If you are going to say otherwise, that the majority of people don't think life is worth living but just can bring themselves to commit suicide, you're going to need to do more than guess at answers.

Right now the overwhelming evidence is on my side.

Grifman said...

timcoopjmans said:

"Grifman, the same does not go for pleasure because a life filled with pleasure is still worthless, in the sense that if you did not exist, you would not be crying over the pleasure you are missing out on."

Uh, how does that make it worthless? Just because I couldn't cry over it doesn't mean it is worthless. That conclusion does not logically follow. If I had existed a pleasurable life would be great. There's no denying that fact.

"In life, you often have to settle for less than perfect because all the other options are even worse. But that is _in_ life. It does not apply when you are considering whether or not to create a new person. They are not harmed by never existing."

Who's saying they're harmed? I not saying they're harmed. I''m just saying there's a benefit to having a life that experiences pleasure. You guys agonize and torture yourselves over the potential suffering of an potential person without ever assessing the potential pleasure and joy that person might experience. It's a warped and one sided analysis.

"So yes, being able to travel is great. But where would your unborn kid need to go? On vacation? It doesn't need to go on vacation because it does not have a job. It doesn't need a job because it does not need money. It doesn't need money because it does not need to survive. It doesn't need to survive because it does not exist."

Who's talking need - need isn't the issue? He/she doesn't "need" to suffer either. I'm merely pointing out that there are pleasures in life, not just pain and suffering. And any analysis of whether to bring life into this world needs to consider both possibilities.

And you're being illogical and inconsistent here. You're saying my unborn child doesn't need to experience these pleasures because they don't exist. But we're talking counterfactuals here since we positing someone who could exist and what they might experience. After all your argument is all about the pain and suffering they might experience if they exist. It seems a bit obtuse if you can point out the potential pain and suffering but I can't point out the potential joys and pleasures.

"There is no reason travel should be great for this unborn kid of yours."

That's silly. Why not? If he would exist sure he'd like to travel. Or if not that, he'd love to go swimming, play games, read a book, sing, eat a great Italian meal, etc. These are the things people like to do. And if he were born he'd like to do many of these things.

Shadow said...

With anon I ask, so what? What if I like being selfish? The above argument only works if Christians and antinatalists share the same moral epistemology. But you guys (as antinatalists) can't ground that epistemology in anything real. What if I like bringing babies into this world so I can cut their heads off when they turn 10? Who would you be to tell me that's wrong?

We base this arguments in our own PAIN, which is VERY REAL, like everyone elses.

Shadow said...

The suicide issue is another thing.

1) First of all, to commit suicide is NOT an easy thing to do, those who have tried know it. We have these instincts built inside ourselves to stop such a thing, which explains why suicides are never a walk in the park.

2) Suicide is killing. Killing oneself. Antinatalists are not defending killing in any way, so...

3) If I´m alive, for the time being, I can make some of a difference. If I die tomorrow, I cant´. So..

4) To think that suicide is easy, you would have to be ignorant about how the human psyche works. Besides survival instincts, people only suicide when they are feeling like crap. If there are people commiting suicide, they are indirectly showing that what WE (antinatalists) are talking is right, and not the other way around. So...

Ravel said...

"Right now the overwhelming evidence is on my side."

What evidence? People might think life is worth living but how much do they put up with? They are programmed to keep fighting doesn't mean they like it. Homeless people are alive because they enjoy life or they think life mis worth living?

I wasn't guessing on the suicide thing, fear of death ands urvival instincts are some of the reasons. Most people put up with life because it's all they know: fear of death & su pushes them to keep living. Thinking about your own death isn't liberating, it doesn't solve anything because you still have to make the decision to kill yourself which is a horrible experience. Plus the means to peacefully kill yourself are scarce(Nembutal suicide booth would up the suicide numbers by a billion) .Basically people are trapped and they have no choice but to live and follow their nature and procreate. Antinatalism is about avoiding life and death.

It's the weekend, time to have that awesome pleasure before a crippling work week begins;)

Anonymous said...

1. timcooijmans says:

"Therefore it is non-subjectively good to prevent, avoid and diminish pain and suffering."

and

"A masochist would not disagree with what I said -- he simply has a different definition of pain and/or suffering."

If a masochist has a "different definition of pain and/or suffering," then how is this "non-subjective"?

2. On the one hand, timcooijmans says: "A masochist would not disagree with what I said -- he simply has a different definition of pain and/or suffering."

On the other hand, timcooijmans says: "Grifman, the same does not go for pleasure because a life filled with pleasure is still worthless..."

So why can there be "a different definition of pain" but not a different definition of pleasure?

You haven't argued for why you think the "worthlessness of life" is the differential in grounding the one but not the other. You've just stated that it is. It's an assertion in lieu of an argument. Yet many people see life as valuable rather than worthless. So why are they wrong but you right?

All you've said so far boils down to subjectivity. Yet if pain and/or pleasure are subjective to the individual, then, like I said to metamorphhh, the argument cuts both ways. If it cuts against the natalist, then it likewise cuts against the antinatalist.

3. Besides this is ignoring the medical science. With regard to pain, for example, C fibers and A-delata fibers can only explain so much. At best we only have various theories to explain pain. As well as its flipside of the same coin, pleasure. Is fibromyalgia an actual musculoskeletal disease or is it neuropsychiatric disorder?

4. timcooijmans says: "In life, you often have to settle for less than perfect because all the other options are even worse."

That's your personal or subjective spin on things. But from my perspective you're looking at everything through your less-than-rose-colored glasses.

Of course, from your perspective I'm looking at things through my rose-colored glasses.

So the question is, given antinatalism and atheism, how do we objectively adjudicate between the two?

Anonymous said...

Shadow said:

"We base this arguments in our own PAIN, which is VERY REAL, like everyone elses."

If you base your argument in your own pain, then we can base our argument in our own pain as well. For example, the pain of not (yet) having children but longing to have children.

"1) First of all, to commit suicide is NOT an easy thing to do, those who have tried know it. We have these instincts built inside ourselves to stop such a thing, which explains why suicides are never a walk in the park."

The question isn't whether suicide is easy or hard. The question is why isn't suicide justifiable given the confluence of antinatalism and metaphysical naturalism.

"2) Suicide is killing. Killing oneself. Antinatalists are not defending killing in any way, so..."

Again, the question isn't what antinatalists are defending or not defending. Rather the question is what objectively grounds not killing someone which includes suicide, given antinatalism and atheism (since this weblog also espouses atheism)?

"3) If I´m alive, for the time being, I can make some of a difference. If I die tomorrow, I cant´. So.."

But given antinatalism and atheism, why does it matter whether or not you can make a difference? What difference does "making a difference" make anyway?

However, if you're suggesting there is actually value in "making a difference" in life, then this is something which makes life at least in part valuable rather than worthless, which in turn undercuts antinatalism.

"4) To think that suicide is easy, you would have to be ignorant about how the human psyche works. Besides survival instincts, people only suicide when they are feeling like crap. If there are people commiting suicide, they are indirectly showing that what WE (antinatalists) are talking is right, and not the other way around. So..."

This is more or less the same point as your first point. You're just saying the same thing a different way. But again the question isn't whether suicide is easy or hard. The question is why isn't suicide justifiable given antinatalism and metaphysical naturalism?

Not to mention that, people committing suicide does not indirectly show antinatalism is right. It just shows that some people don't think life is worth living. But the problem is that what some people think doesn't necessarily reflect what other let alone most or all people think. Also some people who commit suicide are not in the right frame of mind. So it's arguable they are other factors influencing their decision to commit suicide (e.g. psychiatric disorders, depression). You haven't explained why you think it's an indirect argument for antinatalism.

Anonymous said...

Ravel said:

"What evidence? People might think life is worth living but how much do they put up with? They are programmed to keep fighting doesn't mean they like it. Homeless people are alive because they enjoy life or they think life mis worth living?

I wasn't guessing on the suicide thing, fear of death ands urvival instincts are some of the reasons. Most people put up with life because it's all they know: fear of death & su pushes them to keep living. Thinking about your own death isn't liberating, it doesn't solve anything because you still have to make the decision to kill yourself which is a horrible experience. Plus the means to peacefully kill yourself are scarce(Nembutal suicide booth would up the suicide numbers by a billion) .Basically people are trapped and they have no choice but to live and follow their nature and procreate. Antinatalism is about avoiding life and death."

Sorry, there's no argument here. You're just making a subjective observation about what you happen to think things are like.

Shadow said...

Anonymus,

I´m gonna give you the benefit of the doubt, and answer your questions again. SO here it goes:

Again, the question isn't what antinatalists are defending or not defending.

I must´ve understand it wrong then, that we were talking about something that antinatalists defend. Then why the hell are we discussing these in an antinatalism blog?? Beats me...

But given antinatalism and atheism, why does it matter whether or not you can make a difference? What difference does "making a difference" make anyway?

However, if you're suggesting there is actually value in "making a difference" in life, then this is something which makes life at least in part valuable rather than worthless, which in turn undercuts antinatalism.


This question about the difference is a very catchy one. The answer goes like this: the difference is made when you stop someone from suffering and you know that you did.

Let´s say you have a kid. And then you plan to have another one - but then you become an antinatalist - well then you know that you stop that unborn child´s suffering, even if the difference is just about his/her life.

And as for the other question, it doesnt make life worth or anything, but if with my time here I can help someone not to suffer, I guess that´s time well spent, don´t you think? This doesn´t undercut antinatalism in any way, in fact it helps to enforce it.

Shadow said...

It just shows that some people don't think life is worth living

Yes, and that proves antinatalists ideas are correct once again.

"You haven't explained why you think it's an indirect argument for antinatalism."

Brother, I don´t know about you, but even if in the whole human history just ONE person had commited suicide, that alone would be suficient for me to look at life with a little bit more discretion. When, every minute, almost 2 people die from suicide, that´s just showing that life is not that much adorable, to me. And I´m sorry that you think differently. I´m not gonna explain in the comment section of this blog why I think the whole of people commiting suicide enforces anti-birth ideas. Please, go read this blog, some books about, my blog, and other stuff around the net. There are some good links on this blog.

"you base your argument in your own pain, then we can base our argument in our own pain as well. For example, the pain of not (yet) having children but longing to have children."

Well the only problem here is what I mentioned before: by satisfying your hunger you are bringing someone else here, who´ll have this same or other problems, and so on, and so on. Do you see the chain of events here? That´s what we´re talking about.

The question is why isn't suicide justifiable given the confluence of antinatalism and metaphysical naturalism.

Suicide in itself might be justifiable (I said MIGHT), but we´re talking about people here, people that get hurt by things that bring them death. So I guess you see my point, right?

Cheers

The Plague Doctor said...

The DEFINITIION and PERSONAL NEGATIVE valuation of suffering is OBJECTIVE; only the particular CONTENTS of the suffering is SUBJECTIVE.

UTILITARIAN antinatalism is grounded on the position that assigns positive value to the PREVENTION of suffering. Suicide does not prevent suffering. Killing someone does not prevent suffering, unless you kill all life simultaneously, instantaneously and without prior warning.

Life is ONLY valuable for the BORN; life is worthless and unnecessary for the UNBORN. Being born causes UNNECESSARY pain and UNNECESSARY pleasure. Pain (necessary or unnecessary) is BAD, unnecessary pleasure is UNNECESSARY. Hence the Benetarian Asymmetry.

The pain of not having children is minuscule compared to the unimaginably vast amounts of harm that will occur. Furthermore, from a deontological point of view, the pain caused procreation is pain that is IMPOSED on others, the pain of not having children is not imposed on others.

Whether people who commit suicide are "not in the right frame of mind" is irrelevant; The reasons for suffering are irrelevant; the fact remains that they and millions of other people are experiencing preventable suffering.

I find it absolutely incredible to witness people who are actually DEFENDING THEIR RIGHT TO BE UNHAPPY.

The Plague Doctor said...

Oh, and one more thing: procreation does not reduce the amount of pain caused by not having children, because there will still always be people experiencing the pain of not having children in every next generation (due to infertility or lack of willing partners). Only antinatalism can end the pain of not having children.

timcooijmans said...

A life filled with pleasure is worthless because it would not be missed if it did not exist. The potential for pleasure does not weigh in favor of creation of new life.

A masochist would be in favor of preventing, avoiding and diminishing "bad experiences" just like anyone else. Pain may not be a bad experience for them, who knows. It doesn't matter. Likewise it doesn't matter what your idea of pleasure or happiness is.

It might have been clearer had I written "good experiences" and "bad experiences" instead of "pleasure" and "pain and/or suffering", respectively.

When I wrote about the conventional wisdom of opting for less than perfect I did not mean to make life look bad. I only intended to show that much of common sense does not apply here. Specifically, the idea that it is unreasonable to do nothing because everything is risky. Yes, to waste away somewhere because you're scared to go out is unreasonable, because you are likely to suffer under it. But to choose nonexistence over existence because existence is risky is different, in that there is no relevant person who suffers because of this decision.

I don't get what is being said about suicide being justifiable yes or no; it seems obvious to me that it is. Whether we who dislike life have to commit suicide is another, subjective and wholly unrelated question.

"Making a difference" is valuable because it prevents, avoids and/or diminishes bad experiences. If we change one would-be parents' mind, we have made a valuable difference. By putting our weight on the pro-choice side of the euthanasia debate, we make a valuable difference. This does not in any way make life valuable.

Anonymous said...

FILRABAT POSTING

Questioner:The question is why isn't suicide justifiable given antinatalism and metaphysical naturalism?

Filrabat:The justifiability of suicide is completely separate from procreation, or even if life's a bitch.

My antinatalism is based in suffering prevention - including others mental sufferings. If I committed suicide, that causes great lasting anguish for family and friends - especially if they don't really understand "where I'm coming from". Thus, suicide creates more of the very suffering philosophical antinatalism seeks to prevent. Therefore, what I gain from suicide is not worth the anguish caused to others. Other antinatalists may have a different view, but this my own.

Yes, in normal circumstances, there are times when you should do what you want and not care about what others say or feel - but the life-or-death issue falls beyond "normal circumstances" precisely because death - especially sudden death of a loved one or friend - is an emotionally traumatic experience.

(Although I firmly support legalization of physicial assisted suicide, but that involves so many other issues that it's practially irrelevant to antinatalism)

Compoverde said...

""Jim, started a meetup group. Anyone located in Colorado should stop by."

Grifman, are we in middle school? Are you nitpicking on grammatical errors as a way of supporting your bad arguments against antinatalism? Since when does my grammar have to be exceptionally accurate in a comment section of a blog anyways? I happen to use a comma to denote who I am addressing.. You did make me think though-- maybe I should just use a colon or dash instead of so many commas.

Meetup groups are a great way to meet like minded people. I am just testing it out. If no one is interested, I'll probably take it down in a month. I have been on this blog since its early inception and have a few blogs on my own on this subject. Also, I participate in many philosophy forums debating people like you all the time. The things you bring up are neither new or that threatening to the premises behind antinatalism. Thus, I am not answering many of your arguments because its been addressed so many times in the past. Not original. Check out forums.philosophyforums.com if you would like and see for yourself.

Anonymous said...

Shadow said:

"I´m gonna give you the benefit of the doubt, and answer your questions again. SO here it goes:"

Hi there Shadow. Not sure what you mean because you haven't actually answered anything? Well, okay, I should clarify. I mean, yes, technically, you've given an answer. But giving an answer isn't the same as giving a reasonable answer. That's what I'm getting at.

"I must´ve understand it wrong then, that we were talking about something that antinatalists defend. Then why the hell are we discussing these in an antinatalism blog?? Beats me..."

Of course, anyone can defend anything he or she wants (antinatalist or natalist or anyone else). You can say "I don't think we should have babies" or "I don't think we should commit suicide" or whatever. That's fine. But again you have to give good reasons for why you think so. That's what I'm talking about. What grounds antinatalism in the first place? What presuppositions are you taking for granted? That's the heart of the issue anyway.

And, I'm sad to say, but I honestly haven't seen any one of you guys legitimately interact with this. Of course you guys think otherwise. You think we haven't interacted with you. Or whatever.

So that's why I'm glad my and other people's comments are here (as well as over on Triablogue). This way an outside party can read and see who has the better argument(s). I trust you'll agree with this point since it's a good one for both sides in this discussion or debate.

"the difference is made when you stop someone from suffering and you know that you did."

But given your beliefs, why is suffering a morally bad thing? What makes suffering a morally bad thing in and of itself? What defines suffering?

Also, given your beliefs, why is keeping someone from suffering valuable and worth doing?

Like I said to you: "if you're suggesting there is actually value in 'making a difference' in life, then this is something which makes life at least in part valuable rather than worthless, which in turn undercuts antinatalism."

"Let´s say you have a kid. And then you plan to have another one - but then you become an antinatalist - well then you know that you stop that unborn child´s suffering, even if the difference is just about his/her life."

Let's say you become a natalist and then plan to have a kid. You know that by bringing a child into the world, although he or she may suffer, the fact that he or she has life outweighs the suffering he or she may experience.

Anonymous said...

Honestly we could go back and forth like this all day. It doesn't prove anything one way or the other. But like I said it eventually comes down to one's presuppositions. You have to argue for why, given antinatalism and atheism, why does it matter whether or not you can make a difference? What difference does "making a difference" make anyway? Sorry to sound like a CD on repeat but again I don't see how you've actually addressed any of this. You've just repeated yourself without advancing the argument.

"And as for the other question, it doesnt make life worth or anything, but if with my time here I can help someone not to suffer, I guess that´s time well spent, don´t you think? This doesn´t undercut antinatalism in any way, in fact it helps to enforce it."

But you're not actually helping someone not to suffer. You're actually just not doing anything. You're just making a decision not to bring a child into the world.

Besides it's not even guaranteed that you can or can't bring a child into the world. You don't know that if you have sex you'll be able to conceive a child. You're just dealing with probabilities. Maybe you will, maybe you won't. Plus it's not just your decision but it's also the decision of your spouse.

Actually let's try another hypothetical. Let's say you're an antinatalist. But let's say you have a wife who is a natalist. Let's say she desperately wants to have a child more than anything else. Let's say she is in psychiatric distress if she doesn't have a child. Aren't you causing her to suffer mental pain and emotional anguish and so forth by refusing to have a child? By not at least trying to have a child? And at least your wife already exists whereas a potential infant neither exists nor doesn't exist, given that the infant is unrealized.

"Well the only problem here is what I mentioned before: by satisfying your hunger you are bringing someone else here, who´ll have this same or other problems, and so on, and so on. Do you see the chain of events here? That´s what we´re talking about."

But from my perspective the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Yes, life can be suffering, but is it gratuitous suffering? Not necessarily.

So my question is, why is your persepective the correct one, while my perspective incorrect? You just say you think your perspective is correct, whereas I can likewise say that I think mine is correct.

"Suicide in itself might be justifiable (I said MIGHT), but we´re talking about people here, people that get hurt by things that bring them death. So I guess you see my point, right?"

Actually, no, I'm sorry, but I don't. I asked: "The question is why isn't suicide justifiable given the confluence of antinatalism and metaphysical naturalism." But you just responded that it "might" be justifiable without giving a reason why you so. Again, you're just stating things without benefit of making an argument for why you think so. In short, it's just your opinion or feeling about how things are or aren't or how things should be or whatever. But opinions or subjective feelings aren't the same things as reasoned arguments.

Anonymous said...

FILRABAT SAYS

All you've said so far boils down to subjectivity. Yet if pain and/or pleasure are subjective to the individual, then, like I said to metamorphhh, the argument cuts both ways. If it cuts against the natalist, then it likewise cuts against the antinatalist.

Personally, I don't think it's completely objective or subjective. But in a sense, your comment "subjetive to the individual" is exactly the point. Each person has their own viewpoint on whether life is worth living. One can refuse to procreate precisely because they took their children's potential considerations into account. Therefore, the issue ulimately boils down to consent - in this case, the lack of ability for anyone to consent to be born.

Potential people, if they remain nonexistent, would not need pleasure - but they can't feel pain either (or anything else for that matter). Potential people, if they actually "are" among the future existent will feel pain, even if they are highly likely to feel moments of pleasure.

Making it more complex, each person (including future actual persons), have their own personal formula for the pleasure/pain cost/benefit calculus regarding "Is life worth living?". How is your answer better than the antinatalists? Someone saying "My life IS worth living" is fine for themselves. Saying it for another person is sheer presumption.

Now if we had a time machine that allows us to see how a person's life will turn out, or how a person's personal philosophy develops regarding whether it's worth bringing new people into this world - THEN we'd have a way to determine whether it's OK to give birth to that person. But since we don't - then childbirth becomes a bit more morally problematic (to say the least).

Anonymous said...

Plague Doctor said:

"The DEFINITIION and PERSONAL NEGATIVE valuation of suffering is OBJECTIVE; only the particular CONTENTS of the suffering is SUBJECTIVE."

So you assert that suffering itself is objective but its "particular CONTENTS" are subjective. Let's see what your argument for this assertion is.

"UTILITARIAN antinatalism is grounded on the position that assigns positive value to the PREVENTION of suffering."

You're arbitrarily assigning positive value to the prevention of suffering.

Given atheism and evolution, on utilitarian ethical grounds, it could very well be possible to argue that suffering is good for the overall survival of the species if it leads to a sustainable replacement rate for the human species. That is, given atheism and evolution, the utilitarian natalist could assign suffering a positive value in leading to the outcome of a beneficial survival rate for our species.

"Life is ONLY valuable for the BORN; life is worthless and unnecessary for the UNBORN."

Why is life for the unborn "worthless and unnecessary"? On what grounds do you say this? On utilitarian grounds? Yet that's not necessarily true as I explained above.

Also, this is from your perspective as someone who has already been born. The unborn don't have a say. But who are you to tell them life is "worthless and unnecessary"? Isn't that for them to decide? Sure, some people who are born may not appreciate life and commit suicide. But I'd say the majority of humans are pretty happy to be alive! And, on utilitarian grounds, what's of use to the majority outweighs the minority.

"Being born causes UNNECESSARY pain and UNNECESSARY pleasure. Pain (necessary or unnecessary) is BAD, unnecessary pleasure is UNNECESSARY. Hence the Benetarian Asymmetry."

Again, so you say. You say pain and pleasure are "UNNECESSARY." That's your subjective opinion. That's even the subjective opinion of all antinatalists. However, that's not necessarily the opinion of other humans. And that's not necessarily the opinion of the majority of humans. And, again, on utilitarian grounds, what's necessary vs. what's unnecessary should be adjudicated in light of the majority, not the minority.

"The pain of not having children is minuscule compared to the unimaginably vast amounts of harm that will occur."

Once again, that's your subjective opinion. But who are you to tell a woman who desperately wants to have a child that her "pain of not having children is miniscule..."? I believe most women want to have children. So on utilitarian grounds, again, we have to go with the majority.

Anonymous said...

"Furthermore, from a deontological point of view, the pain caused procreation is pain that is IMPOSED on others..."

Sorry to say this, but it sounds like you're confused. Deontology refers to an ethical system.

Plus it depends on which deontological ethical system you're referring to (e.g. divine command theory).

However, the statement "pain that is IMPOSED on others" is an assumption without an argument. It's not necessarily deontological or otherwise. Not without further argumentation for why you think so. Where's your argument for why you think not having a child is an inherently ethical duty? You haven't explained why you think so. At this point, you're just airing your subjective opinion. Again.

"the pain of not having children is not imposed on others."

Actually, that depends as well. It could be imposed. An antinatalist husband could impose his antinatalist values onto his natalist wife who desperately wants to have children thus causing her mental, emotional, and other pain.

"The reasons for suffering are irrelevant; the fact remains that they and millions of other people are experiencing preventable suffering."

Even if it's true that you can somehow know that millions of non-existent people are experiencing preventable suffering (which again is just your personal perspective anyway), who are you to tell them that their suffering is gratuitous and thus not worth experiencing life for? Given your beliefs, on what grounds do you say suffering is not worth life?

"I find it absolutely incredible to witness people who are actually DEFENDING THEIR RIGHT TO BE UNHAPPY."

This is amusingly ironic coming from someone who espouses antinatalism in large part because they believe life is miserable and worthless.

"Oh, and one more thing: procreation does not reduce the amount of pain caused by not having children, because there will still always be people experiencing the pain of not having children in every next generation (due to infertility or lack of willing partners). Only antinatalism can end the pain of not having children."

Yes, I suppose, in the same way that nuking a city can end the pain of people in the city who hate living in the city. If antinatalism ends the pain of not having children, it ends all things as well including other pleasures which, for those who suffer because they can't have children but want to have children, might very well still make life worth living. So, once again, who are you to decide what's best for them?

Anonymous said...

timcooijmans said:

"A life filled with pleasure is worthless because it would not be missed if it did not exist. The potential for pleasure does not weigh in favor of creation of new life."

As I said with the other guys, this is your subjective opinion. Most people are perfectly happy to be alive. Most people don't wish they had never been born. You guys are in the minority. You're the hyper pessimists and cynics.

Anyway I sound like a broken record at this point. But I'm a broken record because the answers given all make the same unargued assumptions.

"Likewise it doesn't matter what your idea of pleasure or happiness is."

Wow, I guess you know me better than I do! By the same token, I could say I know you better than you do.

"It might have been clearer had I written 'good experiences' and 'bad experiences' instead of 'pleasure' and 'pain and/or suffering', respectively."

Okay, but how would this matter? What's a good experience for one person might be a bad experience for another and vice versa. Having kids might be a bad experience for you but a good one for me and my kids and their kids and so forth.

"When I wrote about the conventional wisdom of opting for less than perfect I did not mean to make life look bad."

But isn't that how antinatalists paint life - as "bad"? I mean isn't this one reason why antinatalism argues we shouldn't have kids? Because life is so bad, life is pain, life is suffering, life is miserable, etc.? Or are you saying otherwise?

"But to choose nonexistence over existence because existence is risky is different, in that there is no relevant person who suffers because of this decision."

But one problem is that you're the one choosing, not the existing or non-existing person. So why should you choose for them? What gives you the right to choose for someone else whether they think the risk of life is worthwhile or not? Especially in light of the fact the the majority of humans seem to be perfectly content to be alive and do not wish they were not born?

Rather the problem is, I think, that antinatalists think that if there's a possibility for even one person to be unhappy in this life, then it's not worth it for anyone else to be alive either. It comes down to the fact that antinatalists think no one should be happy if one person is unhappy. But like I said to metamorphhh, why should antinatalists extrapolate from the one to the many?

"'Making a difference' is valuable because it prevents, avoids and/or diminishes bad experiences. If we change one would-be parents' mind, we have made a valuable difference. By putting our weight on the pro-choice side of the euthanasia debate, we make a valuable difference."

So you're saying making a difference is valuable because an antinatalist can persuade others about antinatalism which makes a valuable difference. First, this is circular reasoning.

But also, on antinatalist grounds, it'd be hoping that another person actually comes to adopt antinatalism, which may or may not come. This is therefore a kind of pie in the sky hope. Why not have today what you know to be concrete and true, i.e. that life is not worthing living and therefore it's better to end it (suicide), than to hope that someday someone will also adopt antinatalism, which may or may not ever come?

Also, does persuading others about antinatalism outweigh one's own continued suffering in this life? Is it worth suffering more misery in this life if only to convince more people about antinatalism, even though that possibility is not guaranteed? Even though it's a risky venture to continue living and thus suffering with the hope that others will also be persuaded about antinatalism?

Anonymous said...

Filrabat said:

My antinatalism is based in suffering prevention - including others mental sufferings. If I committed suicide, that causes great lasting anguish for family and friends - especially if they don't really understand 'where I'm coming from'. Thus, suicide creates more of the very suffering philosophical antinatalism seeks to prevent. Therefore, what I gain from suicide is not worth the anguish caused to others."

If your antinatalism is based on "suffering prevention - including others mental sufferings," then, if a woman desperately wants to have a child and would suffer mental anguish by not having a child, then it'd seem justifiable for her to have a child.

If your antinatalism is based on "suffering prevention - including others mental sufferings," then someone could argue for natalism on the grounds that bringing a child into the world would benefit friends and family who would be happy to see someone have a child.

Anonymous said...

FILRABAT SAYS

Of course, it's impossible to prevent all suffering. The best thing - indeed, the only, thing we can do is to minimize the suffering to the lowest level that is the right mix of possible and reasonable.

The woman wanting a child has at least one option open - adoption. As for giving birth, by conceiving, she and the father are implicitly imposing their answer of "Is life worth living?" onto a person who could not CONSENT to be born; for the person in their preconceived state could not agree beforehand to being forced to play the game of Living under the rules of Living forced upon us by this reality. At least with adoption, there is already a child that exists, and thus aleady forced to play the game.

Anonymous said...

Filrabat said:

"Of course, it's impossible to prevent all suffering. The best thing - indeed, the only, thing we can do is to minimize the suffering to the lowest level that is the right mix of possible and reasonable."

So how do you determine "the right mix of possible and reasonable"? Wouldn't that depend on the person or persons involved and who could be affected?

"The woman wanting a child has at least one option open - adoption."

I have nothing against adoption. But some if not most women happen to want their own biological child if possible. Adoption is often a next resort.

"As for giving birth, by conceiving, she and the father are implicitly imposing their answer of 'Is life worth living?' onto a person who could not CONSENT to be born; for the person in their preconceived state could not agree beforehand to being forced to play the game of Living under the rules of Living forced upon us by this reality."

SUre, the parents may not know their potential child's will on whether he or she wants to exist or not exist. But at the same time they also don't know that their potential child doesn't want to exist.

Also, why is consent necessary in the first place?

I didn't have the consent to become a US citizen. But I don't begrudge being a US citizen. On the contrary, I'm quite happy to be a US citizen! Some people never gave their consent to be born into well-to-do or wealthy families. But I don't see too many wealthy people wanting to give up their affluent lifestyle and life. They don't feel like they were forced into this position.

In fact, I don't think most people alive feel like they are unhappy about living and wish they had never been born. It's only a minority of humanity that feels this way. So, odds are, most people want to be born than not born. Given this, it would seem way more likely than not that a child wants to be born.

However, I think what it comes down to for antinatalists is what I said above: antinatalists think that if there's a possibility for even one person to be unhappy in this life, then it's not worth it for anyone else to be alive either. It comes down to the fact that antinatalists think no one should be happy if one person is unhappy.

Anonymous said...

Hm, I guess with that I've pretty much said all that I think needs to be said. I'll try to respond if there are any reasonable counterarguments. But otherwise I'm afraid there's not really much else for me to say, I don't think. Of course, others like Matt and Steve Hays have already said much more than I can say. See here for Steve's latest post. I posted comments in the combox of Steve's post as well.

The Plague Doctor said...

Anonymous,

That suffering itself is objective but its particular CONTENTS are subjective is an obvious fact. The fact that one suffers when one suffers is objective. Everyone can suffer for different reasons and events (the subjective contents).

As with any moral reasoning, there is the problem of infinite regress. If somone gives reason A, the opponent can always ask "Why A?" and then one can give reason B, and the opponent can ask "Why B?" and so on, ad infinitum. You asked for a justification or GROUNDING. A grounding is a foundational assumption. Utilitiarian antinatalism is grounded on the view that assigns positive value to the prevention of suffering (a.k.a NEGATIVE UTILITARIANISM, as apposed to POSITIVE UTILITARIANISM, look it up). Yes, this is arbitrary, JUST LIKE ANY OTHER MORAL THEORY. Moral theories do not allow absolute proofs like mathematics does. The best one can do is to show that a moral theory logically follows from generally held moral intuitions: in this case, the intuition is that inflicting suffering on others is to be avoided. Combined with the fact that birth necessarily inflicts suffering to others, antinatalism logically follows. Before you declare victory, let me reiterate that EVERY moral theory is susceptible to this. Christianity is no exception: if a Christian grounds his belief that X is good by saying "because God said so", then the opponent can ask "Why is it good to obey God", "why ...?", and so on, and so on, ad infinitum (or until one reaches shared beliefs), hence my reference to Euthyphro's Dilemma.

Life is "worthless and unnecessary" for the UNBORN, because needs (a.k.a. desires, interests, wants, deprivation, lack, hunger, whatever you want to call it) BY THEIR VERY NATURE only exist AFTER one is born, not BEFORE one is born. "Unnecessary" means "no need exists" (OBJECTIVELY!). Those who do not exist cannot be denied, cannot be deprived, because they do not exist. Those who do not exist cannot be in need, cannot have desires, interests, etc. Please read this paragraph ten times, before you start again about future generations being denied pleasure.

The majority of humans are happy to be alive for the same reason that the majority of heroin addicts like heroin. That is not a justification to inject heroin into a new-born child.

That the pain of not having children is minuscule compared to the unimaginably vast amounts of harm that will occur, is not just my "subjective opiniion" . For one thing, if procreation continues, the number of unhappy or suicidal people that will exist until the end of humanity is objectively greater than the number of people with unfulfilled child wishes.

Deontology judges the morality of an action based on the action's adherence to a rule. In this case the deontological antinatalist rule is not to impose on others without their consent, even if, from a (positive) utilitarian viewpoint, that imposition would lead to a net reduction in pain.

To deny that birth does not cause pain that is IMPOSED on others, you must either (1) deny that birth causes pain/harm/suffering/etc. OR (2) demonstrate that people are born of their own volition (i.e., they give their consent).

When you say an "antinatalist husband could impose his antinatalist values onto his natalist wife", you are simply playing word games and perverting their meaning. A husband does not aggress against his wife (her body, her liberty, or her property), by refusing to have a child.

The Plague Doctor said...

"if a woman desperately wants to have a child and would suffer mental anguish by not having a child, then it'd seem justifiable for her to have a child."

And if a pedophile desperately wants to rape a child and would suffer mental anguish by not having a child, then it'd seem justifiable for him to abduct a child, right?

The Plague Doctor said...

Also, why is consent necessary in the first place?

Seriously, what shit are you smoking?

(Is it that stuff mentioned in Genesis 1:29-30?)

Grifman said...

Compoverde said:

"Grifman, are we in middle school? Are you nitpicking on grammatical errors as a way of supporting your bad arguments against antinatalism? Since when does my grammar have to be exceptionally accurate in a comment section of a blog anyways? I happen to use a comma to denote who I am addressing.. You did make me think though-- maybe I should just use a colon or dash instead of so many commas."

Uh, no I was commenting/correcting any grammar. I was making a joke about an anti-natalist giving "birth" to a group. Get it, an anti-natalist giving "birth"? Geez, not only are you guys depressing, you're a pretty humorless group to, but I guess that's to be expected.

Grifman said...

Shadow said:

"To think that suicide is easy, you would have to be ignorant about how the human psyche works. Besides survival instincts, people only suicide when they are feeling like crap. If there are people commiting suicide, they are indirectly showing that what WE (antinatalists) are talking is right, and not the other way around. So..."

Uh, how do the relatively few people committing suicide show you're right? And the many more who don't commit suicide don't show I'm right? That's pretty illogical right there. A few prove you're right and many don't prove me right . . . uh, yeah, sure . . . logical gap there, methinks.

You still haven't provided evidence as to why more people choose to keep on living than commit suicide. Sure suicide is hard but according to you that must easily be outweighed by the continued pain/suffering in life. But the fact that most people don't kill themselves says this is wrong, that life is worth living. You've provided no evidence to refute this.

The Plague Doctor said...

That people continue to live shows that they believe that continuing to live is better than TORTURING YOURSELF TO DEATH; it does not show that continuing to live is better than not having been born. GEDDIT?

Grifman said...

Ravel said:

"What evidence? People might think life is worth living but how much do they put up with? They are programmed to keep fighting doesn't mean they like it. Homeless people are alive because they enjoy life or they think life mis worth living?"

I've already told you the evidence. Are you that dense. The vast majority of people choose to continue to live, not kill themselves. If you can't understand that, then there's not much I can do for you.

You said people might think life is worth living but how much do they have to put up with? There's my point, I'm glad you agree. People do think life is worth living despite what they "have to put up with" because what they put up with is not everything. There's more than just pain/suffering. There's family, friends, music, reading, enjoying nature, etc. For the vast majority of people this more than makes up for any negatives.

As for the homeless, they have tough lives, yes. But that's no reason to say they shouldn't exist, or that everyone else shouldn't exist. That doesn't logically follow.

And just because you say people are programmed to live, doesn't mean they don't like it. That's why none of you have showed - that the vast majority of people, given a choice, would choose to have never existed. Come back when you have that data. Otherwise, you have NOTHING.

Grifman said...

Ravel said:

"(Nembutal suicide booth would up the suicide numbers by a billion)"

Unsupported assertion. What evidence do you have other than your mere opinion?

Grifman said...

Shadow said:

"Brother, I don´t know about you, but even if in the whole human history just ONE person had commited suicide, that alone would be suficient for me to look at life with a little bit more discretion. When, every minute, almost 2 people die from suicide, that´s just showing that life is not that much adorable, to me."

Here's the illogic of the anti-natalist position. The relatively few people who commit suicide each year are evidence for their position but the vast majority of people who don't commit suicide aren't evidence against their position! How logical is that?

Shadow said...

Anonymus,

I´m sad to see that you think I don´t have responded your answers.

I´m really sorry about that. But I´m not gonna waste any more time arguing with you. And I´ll show why, below.

"Also, given your beliefs, why is keeping someone from suffering valuable and worth doing?"

Are you insane? What do you mean, given my beliefs? I´m a antinatalist, so I care about human suffering. Are you not paying attention?

"But you're not actually helping someone not to suffer. You're actually just not doing anything. You're just making a decision not to bring a child into the world. "

If you say so... Im gonna keep doing anything while you do... all kinds of things, then.

"Besides it's not even guaranteed that you can or can't bring a child into the world. You don't know that if you have sex you'll be able to conceive a child. "

What a weak weak point! We´re talking about a philosophy here! Not talking about you and me in particular. Are you for real???


"Let's say you're an antinatalist."

I´m an antinatalist.
Let´s say you are a human being.

"Actually, no, I'm sorry, but I don't."

Well, then you are actually a moron.

Go read a book, and make a blog about your views on antinatalism, and make a book rebunking David Beanatar´s view on this.

Glad to have discussed this with you.

Grifman said...

timcooijmans said:

[quote]A life filled with pleasure is worthless because it would not be missed if it did not exist.[/quote]

Unsupported assertion. What makes it worthless? You've merely asserted that, not proven it. And just because something wouldn't be missed doesn't mean it wouldn't be good.

For example, a friend of mine could be thinking right now of calling me to go out to eat tonight, which I would enjoy. If he/she doesn't, I would never miss it. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't enjoy it if they did!

[quote]The potential for pleasure does not weigh in favor of creation of new life.[/quote]

Unsupported assertion. I could just as well state that the potential for pain/suffering does not weigh against the creation of new life. Now what do you do? My assertion is as good as yours.

Grifman said...

Plague Doctor said:

"That people continue to live shows that they believe that continuing to live is better than TORTURING YOURSELF TO DEATH; it does not show that continuing to live is better than not having been born. GEDDIT?"

Uh, people don't have to torture themselves to commit suicide, that's a silly assertion. There are plenty of ways to die quickly. And once again, if life is SOOOO BAAAADD, any temporary pain should be worth it to rid oneselve of the horrible continued pain of living, right? GEDDIT?!?

The Plague Doctor said...

"And just because something [pleasure] wouldn't be missed doesn't mean it wouldn't be good. "

The pleasure would be good, but it wouldn't be better.

The Plague Doctor said...

"Uh, people don't have to torture themselves to commit suicide, that's a silly assertion. There are plenty of ways to die quickly."

List them please, you asshole.

"And once again, if life is SOOOO BAAAADD, any temporary pain should be worth it to rid oneselve of the horrible continued pain of living, right?"

Unsupported assertion. BZZZZZZZZZZZZZT! FAIL. *Falls though trap door in the floor*

The Plague Doctor said...

Inmendham to the rescue!

Shadow said...

These people are a bunch of morons!

The Plague Doctor said...

I would also like to point out the following irony.

If parents want to end the human race out of concern for the well-being of future generation of children, this is considered the "extreme" or "silly" conclusion of believing in atheism.

But if God wants to end the human race in a violent eschaton involving seven seals, four horsemen, three flying unicorns and a partridge in a pear tree, with volcanoes erupting all over the place and the earth's crust cracking open and whatnot -- all this just because God capricously wills it --, this is considered good and just.

Even though the end result is the same, and the antinatalist conclusion involves a lot less suffering.

Anonymous said...

FILRABAT SAYS

Grifman:And just because you say people are programmed to live, doesn't mean they don't like it.

Again, this is THEIR assessment of their own life OR of life in general - NOT the assessment of potential children. Yes, it is subjective - which is precisely the point!!!. What gives you the right to force life onto a person, especially when they can't consent to it? Besides, what's life for anyway, aside from pleasure-seeking. When you die, one of two things will happen, depending on one's belief system.

1) Go to Heaven (which I believe only a minority will do in any case - even among the nominal Christians)

2) Go to Hell (do I even have to discuss this one?)

3) They simply cease to exist altogether (along with their memories. Why strive to live if you can't take your memories with you anyway - aside from your mere DNA programming?)

As for the suicide bit,Grif - part of the very survival instinct itself programmend into our DNA also makes suicide a VERY difficult act to commit. Thinking about ending your life, and even preparing to end your life, and ACTUALLY taking that final step to end it are two entirely differetn things. This is because of the very survival instinct itself. Only a small minority of people are actually willing to die for their country, notwithstandign popular patriotic rhetoric. That alone should suggest how tough it is to actually follow through on the matter. Surely that's not so difficult to grasp.

This doesn't even begin to consider potential suicides who think about the effect on their family and friends - i.e. cause yet more suffering and anguish in peoples' lives.

Yep,answers sure are easy when you're in a jacuzzi on a penthouse rooftop jacuzzi, with a Chardonnay in one hand and a picture perfect BLT on rye in the other - seved up by a hot, tight-boddied 20 year old Russian au pair

Anonymous said...

FILRABAT SAYS

So how do you determine "the right mix of possible and reasonable"?Wouldn't that depend on the person or persons involved and who could be affected? (emphasis mine)

This is percisely the point! By siring or giving birth, parents impose their own opinion of "possible and reasonable" upon someone else. Surely you don't want your own children born into a world of sin. Why impose that onto a potential person?

Speaking for me, the only kind of world worth forcing a person into is an absolutely perfect world - given that consent is a fundamental human right, and indeed one of - if not the cores of human rights.

Also, why is consent necessary in the first place?

In your US citizen example - there's not guarantee a person will be happy being a citizen of ANY country - including the United States of America. They may find the US is too capitalistic for their tastes,for example,or too consumerist, for that matter. There's no way to know until the person is old enough to form an opinion about being a US citizen. At least the US citizen with the means to do so can go to Canada, Sweden or some other "sufficiently Socialist" with relatively little effort. The person forced into life - he or she can only "immigrate" by committing suicide - which involves A LOT more mental hurdles to overcome, not to mention anguish to surviving family and friends.

Antinatalists think no one should be happy if one person is unhappy.

Ahh yes, we're here just to make people miserable because we're jealous. That's the ticket. Actally, it's more like that people have a right to choose what kind of situation they want to live in, rather than having it imposed upon them. They don't agree to come into a world that operates under the rules that it does. They don't even have a chance to consent (per my above remarks).

And even if were true that we think nobody should be happy if even one person is miserable, what purpose does a happy person serve?
So they can breathe, eat, drink, sleep, expel waste, and produce more who will do the same? And on and on down throgh time? What's the end game of it all? To be able to have a similar neurochemical cocktail induced state of consciousness? That's just chaining your reasoning to the reptilian side of your brain, and ultimately your DNA.

In effect, that's no different from lemmings jumping over a cliff because they can't tell that the sea is too big to swim across (or alternately, like walking around aimlessly with no particular destination in mind, then the species dies). Besides, all belief systems say the human race WILL come to an end, even if we want it to continue forever.

Beyond all this, what gives the human race the right to disregard the rights of one non-criminal, non-unethical person? How few is too few? If it's your rights being violated, then I'm sure you'll sing a different tune.

Nonexistent people can be neither happy nor unhappy, nor even need to feel happiness. "Happiness" (in the sense of joy / pleasure) is just a state of consciousness induced by a neurochemical cocktail. To me, wanting to live just for the sake of living sounds suspiciously like being addicted to certain drugs that alter your perception of reality (in fact, one 1979 study shows depressive people actually have a more accurate perception of their lives and of life in general than non-depressives, most likely because they are not looking at the world thorugh rose-colored glasses). Given all this, I think it's the natalists who have the burden to prove whether any of their potential descendants should actually be born.

Garrett said...

The "pain" that we are speaking of here is in fact - deprivation. Don't any of you even dare to attempt to claim that deprivation enhances pleasure, because you and I both know that one is not in a pleasant place whilst being deprived of a subjectively positive experience. Again, an unborn (same state as dead) is not working itself into a pleasure-gasm by waiting on your eventual copulation with the opposite sex. IT DOES NOT EXIST! The problem with you natalists is that you will gladly go 'round and 'round all day in circular reasoning because your pleasure is NECESSARILY dependent upon causing another being to become deprived. By whose authority have you the right to create and subject another being to your brand of "love" (i.e. your own neediness)? Are you not deifying yourself with such a pitiful attempt? If your love for humanity and/or God is so great, why do you not tend to those already in existense or merely leave them to themselves and find your own pleasures which do not purposefully interfere with other sentients? I don't wish to impose my will upon you. You are not fooling anyone here if you make such an outlandish claim. Urging you to use the latent intelligence within yourself is merely the extension of your own desire to reach out into an arena which was previously unknown to you. You came to this website of your own cognizance. Not an imposition by any stretch.

Garrett said...

We have already brought you logical argumentation ad nauseum. Here it is again... for all of you who lack the ability to grasp the concept of consent, respect, and deprivation. An antinatalist has already chosen to give up on procreating or supporting procreation, because he or she understands that no being can CONSENT to being dominated or dominant prior to conception. For some of us, yes, this realization has caused us great pain in turn... yet, our great RESPECT for one another has enabled us to break through that barrier of DEPRIVATION that will ultimately free us all from this seemingly endless cycle of insanity. Yes, in my twenty nine years here, I have discovered that this world is in fact worthless and the physical body is a cage. It is also my opinion that each and every one of you are worthwhile, despite your current arrogance. I suppose you continue to take offense to the truth because your mind is completely interwoven with the idea that you ARE your physical body. This is what metastasizes into overinflated egos and eventually, megalomaniacs. It takes a heart of courage and true love to stand strong and avoid imposing one's will on another. On the other hand, anyone can cause great harm with thoughtless deeds or selfish desire. With 100% certainty, I can absolutely guarantee that all of you will either have children who will (for one reason or another) wish they had never been born or that their distant offspring will reflect such sentiments. It is only by fractal generational trappings, that the mindless cycle continues. Eventually, the natural order of reality will put a stop to that though, and it will be as though this entire monstrosity never was. I am neither depressed nor ecstatic... I have accepted reality. Your opinion of my mental state has no bearing on the truth. The truth is, I am not and will not be the only one who feels this way. I hope that some of you who read this will come to your senses before you hurt someone else.

Take care

timcooijmans said...

I don't think these people are morons, I just think they are out of non-moronic arguments. It happens to be that The Plague Doctor and I are discussing antinatalism in Dutch on my blog, and the similarities between that discussion and this one are striking. The other party does not get the motherfucking argument, and until they do they will keep on shoveling broken analogies around. They present everything they say with a smug air of "guess you didn't think of that" and long-windedly repeat that "it is subjective" or that our analysis is "one-sided".

Opponents: We KNOW that unless we argue otherwise, it is for all practical purposes subjective and two-sided. You do not need to repeat this over and over and over and over and over and over again. None of what you have been saying is new to us, and you would do well to consider that you are simply exploring our what we mean, the argument and its implications. That this is so is clear from what you say. Don't argue with this, it is only a request.

It does not matter whether we antinatalists kill ourselves or not. In fact, let's say I am going to have a kid right now, and that as soon as my partner poops it out, I will torture it to death. I will keep doing this until I die. There. Take that as a given. Now let's move on.

It similarly doesn't matter how many people commit suicide, or what people say they think, or even what people think.

I have already said the conventional wisdom of opting for less than perfect is not an argument in favor of an imperfect life. Anecdotes that confer that less than perfect is usually the best you can do are irrelevant.

On to what does matter.

Yes, it is, in a way, arbitrary to say that it is good to prevent, avoid and diminish suffering. I assert that every sentient being agrees with this. I hate suffering. You hate suffering. Masochists hate suffering. Everyone hates suffering. How is it then arbitrary or relevantly subjective to say that it is good to prevent, avoid and diminish suffering?

Yes, it is good to create happiness for those who already exist.

A blissful life is as good as it gets, and even that is worthless, because if it had never been, the being that would otherwise experience it does not suffer the deprivation of this supposedly valuable life. How can something be valuable if you do not suffer deprivation when you never have it or when it is taken away from you? (Real-life examples of things you find valuable but do not have and do not miss are probably irrelevant, but it's hard to see because real life is so complicated.)

So, it is not good to create happiness for those who do not yet exist.

Creating risk of suffering is bad because suffering is bad.

The creation of a sentient being involves the creation of the possibility of happiness and the risk of suffering. The former does not weigh in favor of creation of this sentient being because it is not good to create happiness for those who do not yet exist. The latter weighs against creation of this sentient being because creating risk of suffering is bad. Therefore, creating sentient beings is bad.

Shadow said...

To be an antinatalist is only for those who have a great will to truth.

Shadow said...

It´s not and won´t ever be easy.

metamorphhh said...

Ok, I'm gonna scroll down through the challenges and here try to hit some high points-

Anonymous: My original post was never ‘an attempted internal critique of Christianity’. It was, as you wrote in your own sentence,...‘hypothetical ...trying to argue that, given Christianity, it's too great of a risk for a Christian to have a child because the child would likely end up in hell since "narrow is the way, and few there be that find it." As you’ve plainly seen, Christianity’s doctrine regarding hellish condemnation was accepted as a given. And my original hypothetical merely asked the question ‘...wouldn't it have been better FOR THE CHILD if she had never been born in the first place?’ Obviously this is meant to elicit a subjective response. Do YOU feel it would be better for the child? How do you think the CHILD would feel? Actually, given the original wording it’s even simpler than that, and could be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. So, no rules broken, just a rather tedious response that misses the point in some areas, repeats the logical mistakes in others, and rambles on rather incomprehensibly in still others, especially the prologue. I’ve usually found that this is the manner in which apologists ‘win’. (I'm speaking of the Triablogue response here, not yours).

As for this:

“In other words, we could easily turn your argument around since your argument is based on one's own standards of what's acceptable or unacceptable risk which can vary between individuals.

You can’t turn my argument around, because I’ve never argued for ‘objective’ or even universal standards. Mine is simply a plea aimed at normative moral sensibilities based in empathy. If your personal standard is that a child is better off being tortured for eternity originating in your decision to procreate, then any of my arguments simply don’t apply to you. Of course, there’s the more important question concerning the child’s own feelings in retrospect; although, I suppose even my assumption that the child’s possible feelings are more important than my own emotional need to procreate aren’t shared by everyone. Again, in that case my argument is moot.

One more thing:

“3. You said: "Making children is ALWAYS selfish, and ALWAYS exploitive for one reason or another. I defy anyone to name an instance where this is not so, either consciously or as a result of thoughtless consummation"

Let's say we agree this is true. If it's true, then what's wrong with being selfish? Walking along the beach by myself to enjoy the sand and surf is selfish. But what's wrong with that? Reading a book by myself is selfish. But what's wrong that? Eating a delicious chocolate ice cream by myself is selfish. But what's wrong with that?

If you can’t see the differences here, it’s really not worth re-hashing (which, btw, is the one of the reasons I find the ‘response’ over at Tribalogue not worth my time answering).

Shadow said...

They seem to be unable to understand simple arguments. I have literally wasted my time arguing with them here.

metamorphhh said...

Griffman:

“While you have explained on your site why you don't choose suicide, I don't see where you have explained why others don't, if things are as bad as you claim.”

1. Others DO commit suicide, around a million a year, with lots more attempted.

2. Maybe those who don’t feel the same way I do? Maybe? Yeesh, I’m sure you could have figured this one out yourself with a little thought.

“There are risks to everything but that's all the anti-natalists are focused on. I see no consideration of the possible joys and benefits of life. Nor an assessment of the probabilities of pain/suffering vs. joy/happiness.”

Because in the context of possible damnation, any risk is too great considering the possible horrific downside one’s child might face, especially when we consider that the potential child- or perhaps I should say ‘imaginary’ child- faced no deprivation, and thereby didn’t require being place in harm’s way through risk in the first place.

“Example - it's risky to drive. Doing so exposes one to the possibility of a horrible death by burning due to an accident. Yet I suspect most of us, natalists and anti-natalists drive anyway. Why? One because the benefits of traveling are so great. And because the risk of a horrible death by burning or so low. Yet applying the logic of the OP means that none of us would choose to drive because we would assume the worst. Yet none of us lives this way.”

Sigh...once again, the difference between existing persons taking risks, and taking the risk of actually bringing a person into existing out of nothing, are qualitative, obvious, and has been addressed thoroughly.

“Put another way, Jim, so to speak, is "giving birth" to a new group? Oh, the irony :)”

Yes, because already existing people joining a group and creating a new person are entirely the same thing. *shakes head at the sorry state of apologetical cerebration* Of course, if we put a gun to the head of of potential members forcing them to join, then filled their heads with nasty stories of what might happen to them if they leave, then brainwashed them into believing they would have chosen to be in the group of their own accord, anyway...well, then we’d at least be approaching a more accurate picture of the way things really are.

“So you're just guessing then?”

And then you go on to assert your own ‘guesses’ based on ‘there’s more of us than there are of you’. Naturally, the antinatalist arguments for the actual disparity in numbers are peppered throughout this blog, and are a bit too complex to distill down to a few sentences in the comment section of this OP. If you’re interested, feel free to browse :)

metamorphhh said...

Ok, that's about all the time I have for now. Reading down, I think anything else is addressed in the back and forth without me having to pitch in my two cents. Thanks for all the contributions.

metamorphhh said...

Shadow:

I once got into a discussion with an apologist about some REALLY trivial issue. We went back and forth several times, and finally I said something like 'Ok, I think we've about milked this subject dry; we're just repeating ourselves now. I'm dropping out.' To which he replied 'Oh, I thought we'd go another 50 rounds or so, and let it work itself out.' Another 50 rounds!!! And then, of course, he went on to declare 'victory'. LOL! There's a lot of sophistry involved in defending untenable positions which often goes unrecognized in those who practice it a lot. All you can do is state your case, respond or amend as is necessary, and get out. There really is no 'winning' in these dialogs. Pretty much everybody walks away believing what they believed before, and it's left up to more or less disinterested third parties to arrive at their own conclusions.

metamorphhh said...

Also, and to be fair, apologists tend to enter these conversation with an eye to defending their faith, and are generally unable to approach things in any other terms. Note anonymous' unsupported contention that the OP was an attack on internal Christian doctrine, when it was really nothing of the kind. I was always only asking for a subjective appraisal of personally justified risk-taking, given the stakes in an orthodox Christian context.

It's as if I would ask somebody "Do you think it's really wise giving your child all that candy?" and he replied by telling me:

1. Most kids really like candy.
2. It's not against the law to eat candy.
3. Candy has been around for a long time.
4. Did I mention that I work for Hershey's Inc?
5. Yeah, yours is just the understandable attitude of an acandyist, and if everybody felt like you, pretty soon we wouldn't have any candy at all!

etc.

metamorphhh said...

In conclusion, I believe this is how the discussion washes out:

Question: Do you believe that for a child who ultimately ends up suffering an eternity of unceasing, hellish torments forever and ever, it would have been better for that child never to have been born?

Answer: Yes, but because of a, b and c (fill in the blanks) I am justified in overriding my concerns vis-a-vis my child's possible hellish fate.

NOTE TO CHRISTIAN PARENTS- Keep your fingers crossed!

metamorphhh said...

Btw, I probably should remark for the benefit of any new visitors that my arguments apply equally to non-Christian procreationists. It's just that the Christian stakes are much, much higher. That's also my problem with life-extending transhumanists, who would take the chance of postponing suffering's surcease in terms of possible years, decades or even millennia.

timcooijmans said...

Well, if people want to be immortal, I see no reason to forbid that. But we already have problems with those who think longer life is better forcing those who disagree to live longer. I do hope we get a right to die before we get the duty to be immortal, so to speak.

metamorphhh said...

tim:

The book I'm reading right now, The Living End, goes into some detail on how our life extension efforts have already condemned us to an average of 10 years of chronic conditions, and growing! It's really quite horrible. Short of my antinatalistic ideal, I dream of a society that has integrated voluntary euthanasia as part of its cultural gestalt. It would make the inevitable fact so much easier to deal with for everyone concerned.