Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Call for Papers

An opportunity for the academically inclined amongst you. Thanks to commenter Rob for the heads up!


Rob said...

Nice that Smilansky is an invited speaker. (I'm trying to cajole a Christian philosopher I know, whose dissertation advisor was the other invited speaker, to submit a paper proposal.)

metamorphhh said...

I'm very happy to see that Professor Benatar hasn't moved on. It seems like it would be tempting (at times) for an academic with a professional reputation to maintain to put some distance between himself and such a controversial stance. I can't say I've been overly impressed with many of the reviews I've read. Granted, it might be because my sources are limited to the internet.

I'm really looking forward to the results here. Rob, please keep us informed, would you?

CM said...

Awesome. Too bad I'm not even in grad school yet (notice the yet... optimistic bias strikes again!).


Smilansky also thinks there is a moral obligation to have children. He has already written a review of BNtHB, the main thesis of which was, IIRC, that he regrets the inability of the never-existent to enjoy beautiful places for their sake, not his own. There was no evidence offered for the latter part.

The contents of David Boonin's homepage suggest that he's a pronatalist, as well. I don't think we can expect this issue to offer a balanced perspective for obvious reasons.

The Plague Doctor said...

metamorphhh: "it would be tempting (at times) for an academic with a professional reputation to maintain to put some distance between himself and such a controversial stance"

Controversial? Doesn't Benatar still shy away from advocating for a legal prohibition against procreation. What a pansy! :-)

Rob said...

CM, as long as the issue includes Benatar's responses to the papers, I'm not too worried about balance. As for Smilansky, just glossing that paper, it does appear that he quite heavily qualifies the claim of there being a moral obligation to procreate. (I suspect most sympathetic readers of this and Sister Y's blog might find Smilansky's work on issues surrounding his pessimistic incompatibilism, and Nietzschean view of the necessity of illusion, rather congenial.)

Apparently, Benatar's next book is an expansion of his previous work on "the second sexism" (and I'm totally guessing that the critical review of "Better Never to Have Been" to which he says he has made a response might be the one by Harman).

I would like to hear of McMahan appearing at the conference, given his recent assertion that "the extinction of human beings would be the worst event that could possibly occur."

CM said...


I guess I find Smilansky's view of the necessity of illusion unconvincing because I'm just not bothered by determinism in the least. I find the idea quite comforting, actually.

In any case, IIRC, there's been some x-phi research inspired specifically by his writings, which showed that most people wouldn't consider life less meaningful if they came to believe in determinism (which was described as a combination of the influence of our genes, neurophysiology, and upbringing). I suppose it is possible, though, that people have a hard time imagining what it would be like to hold a belief they don't actually hold.

Re: McMahan. I can't believe he said that. While advocating unconventional methods of reducing suffering.

He has also already addressed BNtHB in "Harming Future Persons",
in which he misrepresented Benatar's counterfactual (where an existing suffering person doesn't exist) as one in which a non-existing person exists and suffers and then proceeded to criticize it saying something like "there is no one for whom we can be glad [that they don't exist]". I highly recommend the whole anthology. It consists of a bunch of famous philosophers accepting various premises that lead to antinatalism while championing people's purported right to breed. Highly amusing. Unfortunately, Benatar is not among the contributors (I wonder why), even though two of them (McMahan and Steinbock) discuss his work.

Rob said...

CM, thanks for the tip on that collection of essays... From what I gather, the folk are susceptible to priming of incompatibilist intuitions, and Baumeister and colleagues have evidence of at least short-term negative effects of inducing disbelief in free will. (As a no-freedom incompatibilist, I would, however, like to see some experimental testing of whether my ilk are less punitive than those who lean predominantly compatibilist.) And mean gods make good people.

Francois Tremblay said...

Since the first poster mentioned Christianity, I think I should point out that I recently wrote an entry on antinatalism as a fatal challenge to Christianity.

Rob said...

Incidentally, in, I think, Book 4 of the second volume of WWR, Schopenhauer argues, with supportive citations, that antinatalism is eminently Christian.

Heretic said...

Maurice Sendak: pessimist/antinatalist?

Judge for yourself:

Sister Y said...

I saw the Spike Jonze's documentary on Maurice Sendak he made before Where the Wild Things Are, and they have an exchange something like this:

Maurice Sendak: (explaining his feelings about having children) Sometimes when I see children out with their parents, I just want to whack them on the head with a hammer.

Spike Jonze: Maurice! I can see the parents, maybe, but not the kids!

Maurice Sendak: I'm not doing it to hurt them, I'm doing it to SAVE them.

Heretic said...

Thanks for sharing that Sister Y. I had no idea Sendak had these thoughts until I read the previously linked article.

Rob said...

Some sharp Schopenhaurian focus on asymmetries between pleasure and pain: No life is good

Tim Cooijmans said...

For those near Johannesburg