Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New Feature

I've added something new to the left margin, right under the reader comments. It's something I've meant to do for quite awhile now; a listing of particularly virulent or otherwise unreasoned responses to the subject of antinatalism. I'll add to the list as I can. Enjoy!


TGGP said...

I've seen other bloggers do this sort of thing, they usually put up links in the sidebar as well so people can see the original comments. Does blogspot support that?

metamorphhh said...

I'm not sure, TGGP. Blogspot just expanded their format applications a few days ago. I'll screw around with it and see what I can do.

Anonymous said...

You're now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
You: hello
Stranger: why hello there
You: where are you from
Stranger: nevada
You: ...
Stranger: how fun
You: kinda rainy though
Stranger: its sunny.
You: what going on in your life
Stranger: i met somebody today
You: tell me more
Stranger: we like the sam littiture
You: you met him/her online
Stranger: i met them at a AA meating
You: ok
You: are you M/F?
Stranger: a female
You: im a male
Stranger: im 26
Stranger: hes 48
You: my uncle is an alcoholic, but he would never go to AA
Stranger: thats too bad
Stranger: i actually have a beer right now
Stranger: =P
You: are you serious?
Stranger: yeah
You: so it's not working? .. lol
Stranger: well i always have a beer when i smoke a ciggarette
You: so tell me more about your life
Stranger: well i live in henderson,nevada
Stranger: i have a daughter
Stranger: her name is sohpia
Stranger: my name is jenelle
You: what do you do in daily life
Stranger: i work and take car of my daughter
You: is it tough as a single mom?
Stranger: yes especially when you don't know the father of your child
You: ouch...
You: could you have a DNA test done?
Stranger: i could but that wouldn't help since i don't know who/where the father is
Stranger: i had sophia when i was 16
You: why do you not know who the father is, if you don't mind me asking
Stranger: i have an idea range between 6 different men
You: and what about that guy you met
Stranger: he is a sweet heart
You: really?
Stranger: yes he is
You: so are you two planning anything for the future
Stranger: oh i don't really know yet
You: what do you think about the age difference?
Stranger: i don't mind
You: and about the fact that he is also in AA?
Stranger: we can help eachother
You: yeah, that makes sense
You: so what do you think about having children in general, do you want more, or do you regret the one you have?
Stranger: i love sophia she is a great kid
Stranger: i probably won't have children with this man
You: i'm an antinatalist myself
Stranger: and what's that hun
You: it's the greatest taboo
You: it's the belief that life should not be brought into existence
Stranger: well that it very ignorant
You: why?
Stranger: because i said so
Stranger: you were brought into existence
You: yes, so?
Stranger: you are a clown
You: don't be mean
You: please
Stranger: alright
Stranger: are you going to adopt children or something
You: adopting is better in a lot of ways
You: but i don't think i will
You: when you adopt you almost certainly improve someone's life
Stranger: sophia has a great life
You: great
You: i'm not blaming you in any way, just to be clear
Stranger: blaming me for what
You: never mind
You: where do you work?
Stranger: i have two jobs
You: ...
Stranger: at job 1
Stranger: i am an accountant
Stranger: job 2 i work at hooters

LOL... antinatalism is doomed to failure with these kind of people running around.

needofassistance said...

Can someone please help. I was in a philosophy forum and someone gave me a very good argument against antinatalism. I need to counter his argument. Any ideas for each argument he makes would be nice. Thanks for all your help in advance!

Their argument: Benatar makes a category mistake by applying putative states to non-existing entities. Nothing cannot be subject to states of being and therefore to say that non-existing persons (contradiction in terms), by which Benatar means "nothing", are better off than living persons is simply false. In fact, Benatar goes so far as to ascribe rights to non-existence. Quite a feat of fallacious reasoning.

The argument is also rather unconvincing for several additional reasons;

1) he only views pleasure and suffering as considered by a single person and not the wider community, a utilitarian view could lead to a greater good for society as a whole despite the person providing such pleasure to the rest of society suffering;

2) it is an unproven assumption that the absence of pain is good and not neutral - as the absence of good is - or even that the absence of good is not necessarily neutral is indeed still good. In other words, he doesn't answer how good or bad they are (it's even unconvincing why the absence of pleasure is bad and not neutral) and as such no value judgment can be made;

3) Benatar assumes a sort of indeterminate state of non-being before a person comes into existence or not-becomes into existence (e.g. a prospective, non-existent person at point in time A is not existing to reach point B where he is going to exist or not). However, non-existence cannot be determinate or indeterminate so the argument doesn't make sense;

4) Taken to its extreme, according to Benatar all sentient life can only suffer and non-existence would be preferable, however, in the absence of all life there is no sentient life to make value judgments as to whether existence is good or bad and such a world would therefore be indifferent, or "neutral", making the non-existence of life equal to existence without any pleasure and they are then equal;

5) Benatar's argument assumes also that a person's experience of good and bad things are not off-set against each other. Most people, even you since you refuse to kill yourself, find life worthwhile. Either because there is more good than bad in our lives or because of a biological imperative. If it's the former than there is more pleasure(P) to be had in existence(e) (minus suffering(good=G) due to existence) than to avoid through non-existence(ne) and lose because of the absence of pleasure(neutral=N). In other words, the asymmetry cannot answer if:

eP = Pleasure in existence (positive value)
eS = Suffering in Existence (negative value)
neN = absence of pleasure due to non-existence (0)
neS = absence of suffering due to non-existence (positive value equal to eS)

eP + eS > neN + neS
eP + eS > 0 + neS
eP > neS - eS
eP > 2eS

Basically, if you have twice as much pleasure in life than suffering you're ok. Then further considering that such judgments are personal and that some people bare certain sufferings easier than others and thus further distort the comparison between pleasure and suffering, the asymmetry will simply not do as a general rule.

If it's because a biological imperative than Benatar's argument fails because there is an overriding other reason for us to exist.

As you can tell, I'm hardly impressed by Benatar.

In other words, anti-natalism is illogical. Just another form of existentialist angst.

metamorphhh said...




I'll try to address your points specifically when I get a little more time. Until then, I look forward to any input others may have.

Chip said...

A glaring problem with your opponent's rebuttal is that it betrays a frustrating lack of familiarity with Benatar's arguments as presented in his book. There simply isn't a point here -- from non-identity, to population calculus, to the intuitive neutrality of nonexistence -- that Benatar doesn't anticipate and address (extensively, in most instances) in the pages of Better Never to Have Been and in subsequent responses to reviewers. The forum participant is working from cribbed notes at best.

Since the counterarguments are somewhat Benatar-centric, I recommend that you pick up a copy of BNtHB, and refer your opponent to passages where he clearly considers and responds to each criticism. (Also, the reviews and rejoinders posted on DB's university web-page for BNtHB will be relevant.) I'm not saying that this will close the debate, but it should be fairly easy to demonstrate that the critic, in this case, has not considered the source material.

I have an itch to do this myself, but at present all of my books are in boxes stacked ceiling high (I'm in the process of moving). Maybe later.

antinatalism said...

poster asked "What is a non-existent person?" in regards to David Benatar. Chip how would you tackle that?

Chip said...


A non-existent person? Well, that would be me in 1969, or Arthur Schopenhauer presently.

Clever as it is, the objection from non-identity just doesn't test well. There are countless real-world examples of instances where people take intuitive account of potential outcomes for potential (nonexistent) beings. For example, in considering whether or not to have children, a person who is known to carry the dominant gene for Huntington's Disease will typically assign special weight to the significant probability that his or her offspring will inherit the affliction. But if we take the objection from non-identity seriously, this parent’s dilemma is a non-dilemma, and a waste of moral brainwork; if he or she proceeds to breed and a child is born with the disease, well, according to non-identity, there was no person, therefore no harm. Recognizing the absurdity of this consequence, adherents of non-identity politics may attempt to re-fashion their premises to better suit the specific claims and arguments of antinatalist ethics, but the assertion that pre- or non-existent beings are, by dint of logic, precluded from consideration in the course of moral reasoning is not easily sustained.

On the qualitative status of absent pain (good versus neutral), I think it is important to note that David Benatar posits that the "goodness" [rather than mere neutrality] of absent pain derives in part from taking account of the potential interests of a person who either does or does not exist. Absent pain that is not considered against other potential outcomes (such as the pain not experienced by a rock) is morally irrelevant. If my notes are correct, this issue is fleshed out at some length in Chapter 2 of BNtHB.

antinatalism said...

Chip, may I use your rebuttals in the form verbatim? I will attribute it to you at this website

Chip said...


Fine with me, but I don't think what I've scribbled here amounts to a "rebuttal." Frankly, you would do better to refer to Benatar's work, as well as that of Seanna Shiffrin and Sister Y (of The View from Hell), both of whom proposed novel thought experiments in consideration of some of the counterpoints raised in the philosophy forum. I might add that Jim's book addresses a lot of this stuff, albeit in a less rigorous and more conversational way.

Good luck.


P.S. - on population-centered utilitarianism, see DB's discussion of Parfit's "repugnant conclusion" in BNtHB.

Chip said...

Off topic - I wanted to let Jim's readers know that the books are officially in stock. I just filled the first Amazon warehouse order and will be set up to take orders via 9BB in a day or so. If you live near an indie bookstore that should be carrying the title, let me know. My email is chipsmith55 at gmail.

Happy reading!