Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No More Babies, Please!

Just wanted to share an article I found this morning. Good comments section, as well.


Constant said...

Starting it of with a reference to the VHEMT was rather silly of her, because their reason for not reproducing is a silly reason...

The article doesn't give a single good reason for reproductive abstinence. She's on the brink of it when she speaks of a "damaged, dangerous and full of disappointment" world, but ruins it all by putting "increasingly" in front of it.

Bringing up the problem that non-reproducing women are not viewed and treated fairly is sensible (I thought that, in the civilized word, that was a US-only problem... At least I know better now.), but she states it in a somewhat unfortunate manner.

Consequently, the discussion in the comments section is mostly about the wrong things.

TGGP said...

I agree with Constant (and Bryan Caplan): the world keeps getting better and better for children (and non-children).

Chip said...

I am convinced by specific arguments for philanthropic antinatalism (and radical pessimism), but the culturally fixated and/or ecocentric phrasing of the issue leaves me cold. I'm not sure why the latter approach is so much more common in pop-commentary, but its currency may account for the raft of misconceptions I inevitably encounter when I debate the subject in public forums.

For human beings, I agree that life is probably better than it has been in the past (different story for the animals we mass produce), and that things may get better still, at least for a while. The key insights of PA are 1.) that the scales never tip, and 2.) that the concept of life as a blessing is at best incoherent. In addition to being factually suspect, half-assed editorials about how people are destroying the planet (or whatever) and how things are worse than ever (whatever) overlook these crucial points.

CM said...

Yes, VHEMT's Les U. Knight is mainly concerned with the environment, but you can be a VHEMT volunteer for all sorts of reasons, including philanthropic antinatalism. There is a discussion and a link to Benatar's book on their website. So, techinically, we are all VHEMT volunteers since all you have to do for that is to be an antinatalist and stop breeding (or never start). But I agree, nobody gives a shit about the environment, and everyone is ignorant or convinced of being the sole exception in the face of all kinds of stats on the negative effects of breeding on one's happiness, marital satisfaction, educational and career achievements.

So it would seem that the best strategy is to expose the breeders who are convinced of their own selflessness and love and sacrifice for the sake of their offspring as the hypocritical, exploiting assholes that they are. I have seen several people, though, who seemed to fully understand and agree with our reasons for antinatalism, only to declare that they would breed anyway because they valued their own desires more than avoiding doing harm. While you can't but applaud such rare intellectual honesty and consistency, it seems really fucked up.

But I suspect that, if philanthropic antinatalism were to gain enough publicity for an average layperson to become familiar with it, a lot of people would resolve their cognitive dissonance by adopting the stance described above. Even now, having free caretakers in one's old age is a frequently cited reason for breeding; almost everyone hits their children and openly acknowledges it, and most people consider children property, including legislators and judges. Like Constant said elsewhere, people are terrible. Perhaps all that Benatar, Jim, and others would ever accomplish is get them to proudly acknowledge their terribleness.