The case for being born

by John Quiggin on November 28, 2021

The New Yorker is running a profile of the anti-natalist philosopher David Benatar. Reading it, I was unconvinced by the implied response to the obvious objection, “if life is so bad, why not kill yourself”, namely that suicide is painful in itself and causes pain to others.

I searched a bit, and discovered that, not only had Harry covered the book here soon after it came out, but I had made the same objection in comments[1], which I’ll reproduce for convenience

given that Benatar is arguing from a utilitarian rational choice position, his argument leads straight to the (more or less standard utilitarian) conclusion that there should be no moral weight attached to suicide. That is, people should commit suicide if they reasonably judge that their future pains outweigh their future pleasures. Sympathetic others should not deplore the fact of suicide (though they should be saddened by the facts leading to the decision).

Once that position is established there’s no problem bringing new people into the world. If they don’t like it they can always kill themselves. That, it seems to me, is orthodox utilitarianism, with a bit of a helping hand from revealed preference.

Of course, this kind of thing is all very well in a philosophy class. In reality, suicide is more commonly the result of momentary despair and is a tragedy for both the person concerned and their friends and family.

Since 2008, most Australian states have introduced assisted dying laws, which seem to strengthen the case against Benatar’s claim (at least as applied to Australians). People who face suffering that outweighs any future pleasure can end their lives painlessly and without causing harm to their loved ones (most people who have faced the painful death of loved ones supported the legislation).

It’s true that this option is only available to the terminally ill (12 months to live), but there was no apparent demand for broader access, and the number of people taking the option has remained small.

So, if painless suicide is possible, and those who care about us should (and mostly will) support our choices if life seems unbearable on careful reflection, Benatar just seems to be saying that we are all making the wrong choice in staying alive. How (except in the extreme nature of his suggestion) does this differ from someone saying we are all wrong in our choices of food, music, life partners etc and would be truly happy if we only ate food listened to music, and shared our lives with people we hated?

fn1. This happens to me a lot, either because of failing memory or excessive opinionating.

{ 28 comments }

1

oldster 11.28.21 at 8:08 am

Anyone considering commenting on this thread really should read the 2008 CT thread to which JQ links. You will probably find your point anticipated there.

2

MisterMr 11.28.21 at 8:52 am

Classical utilitarian phliosophers, like Bentham or Epicurus, have an objectivist view of utility:
Epicurus has an articulated distinction between natural, non natural, necessary and non necessary pleasures, and a big part of his moral system was based on the idea that people often seek the wrong pleasures;
Bentham IIRC had a concept of declining marginal utility of income (which makes him one of the first marginalists) and he was a socialist for this reason.

If we accept that utility is something objective and not subjective (which is very problematic) then many criticisms against utilitarianism fall, like the supercool violinist or the utility monster, because these criticisms are based on mind experiments where one first posits a widely unrealistic definition of utility, and then as this definition goes against our intuition of utility in the real world the logical consequences of the posited definition are negative, at which point one deduces that utilitarism sucks.

About suicide, there is the same problem: that pain and pleasure are perceptions we have that lead very directly to stay alive and reproduce, so apart of extreme cases of the terminally ill and of martirdom for a cause the logical consequence of it is that if someone believes death has more utility than life he or she is just estimating utility wrongly: utility is supposed to be objective and not to depend on Benatar’s opinion.

Then of course you get into the problem of objective, impersonal utility (how can this thing even exist?) and of why my guess about utility should be better than Benatar’s.

3

Matt 11.28.21 at 11:18 am

Classical utilitarian phliosophers, like Bentham or Epicurus, have an objectivist view of utility:…If we accept that utility is something objective and not subjective (which is very problematic) then many criticisms against utilitarianism fall,

MisterMr – can you say a bit more about what you’re thinking here? I guess I often find it unclear what people mean by ‘objective’ and (especially) ‘subjective’, but both Bentham and Epicurus were hedonists, who thought the only good things were pleasant mental states (“pleasures”) and that the only bad things were unpleasant mental states (“pains”.) Lots of people think that mental states are paradigmatic “subjective” things, although I guess I’d be happy to say that people can “objectively” be in them or not. (Hence, some of the confusion here, though there are other sources, too.) I’m also not sure how hedonistic utilitarianism is especially immune to (claimed) standard counter-examples. So, I’d like to hear a bit more.

4

MisterMr 11.28.21 at 12:58 pm

@Matt 3

For example, take these 3 situations:

Case 1, there are kids A and B, I have 10 candies. I give 5 candies to each kid, because if I give 4 to one and 6 to the other, the loss to kid A is bigger than the gain for B (decreasing marginal utility of candies).

Case 2, there are two kids, A and B. A has a serious disease, so I give more cares to a than to B, because A objectively has more needs than B (the first minute of care I give to A has more marginal utility than the first minute of care I give to B).

Case 3, there are two kids, spoiled kid A and good kid B. Even tough A is always asking for more than B, I won’t give more 6 candies to A and 4 to B because from my adult and supposedly objective point of view A is just more spoiled, he doesn’t really need more candies than B, why would I punish B for being a more educated child? I’d rather give more candies to B just to educate A.

The difference between case 2 and case 3 is that in case 2 there is an actual objective need, whereas in case 3 there isn’t, so A is just bulshitting that he needs more candies.
Of course I can think in these terms only if I believe that I can compare somehow A and B internal states, which makes the comparison objective.
If we take the different point of view that A and B inner worlds are not comparable, so that I can’t compare A and B’s needs, then utilitarianism falls flat because I can’t compare the utility between two people, so “the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people” makes no sense because if I can’t compare one person’s happines to the happiness of others, how can I calculate the greatest happiness?

Therefore it is implicit in utilitarianism that the “subjective” mind states of various people can be compared to each other through some objective parameter, and this parameter is, in Bentham’s language, “utility”.

Epicurus is a bit different but he definitely believed that pleasurable mental states were a reflection of the satisfaction of our natural needs, so the pleasure from an healthy diet is OK, whereas the pleasure from getting drunk is a false pleasure and should be avoided, it’s not just about mental states.

5

Slanted Answer 11.28.21 at 3:40 pm

“given that Benatar is arguing from a utilitarian rational choice position”

I don’t think Benatar is arguing from a strictly utilitarian position. His main argument from the book is that pain and pleasure aren’t symmetrical: the absence of pleasure is morally neutral, while the absence of pain is morally good. It follows from this, he thinks, that we shouldn’t have children, because, even if they lead very good lives, that goodness would be morally neutral, while any pain they experience would be morally bad, thus making existence worse than non-existence. That’s different from standard utilitarianism, which treats pain and pleasure as comparable.

Thus I take it whether suicide is an option should be irrelevant on his account. People could lead very happy lives by our standards, but, if anything bad happens to them, it would’ve been better for them not to exist (i.e., even extremely bearable lives aren’t worth living). Indeed, he even claims that a perfectly painless life would be equivalent to non-existence. Since that can never realistically happen, non-existence is better. Again, I don’t think any of this relies on utilitarianism as standardly understood.

6

Theophylact 11.28.21 at 6:45 pm

@ Slanted Answer: Why is it a given that the absence of pleasure is morally neutral? One can certainly argue that a joyless life is hardly worth living, not much better than being a p-zombie.

7

Matt 11.28.21 at 8:03 pm

Mister Mr – I agree that utilitarians often assume that we can compare the levels of happiness that different people have – and no doubt that’s often so – but the “problem of interpersonal comparisons” can’t really be happily solved by fiat, and it seems to me that that’s what you’re doing there. (It’s also largely irrelevant to some of the thought experiments you mention.) It’s right as well that we can say, often with good reason, that people are miscalculating how much utility different things will bring. (Many fewer people would drink too much, for example, if that were not so.) But that’s a distinct issue from utility being “objective” in the sense you seem to be suggesting.

8

Kiwanda 11.28.21 at 8:35 pm

Maybe Benatar’s view is a solution to the Fermi paradox: we’ve not met many advanced aliens because any sufficiently advanced civilization ends itself.

I wonder what the implications are for our stewardship of those unfortunate creatures that are sentient enough to suffer, and yet are unable to restrain themselves from reproducing. Perhaps extinctions are often events to be celebrated, in this view.

Combining these two thoughts, perhaps it is morally appropriate to stick around, and ensure the absence of other sentient life as much as possible. I hope our encounter with advanced aliens carrying out this moral mission is mercifully short.

9

M Caswell 11.28.21 at 8:38 pm

Does it matter what the source of the pain is? If I felt sick and miserable everytime I thought about helping another person in need, would that be a good reason to kill myself?

10

marcel proust 11.28.21 at 8:45 pm

@oldster wrote:

Anyone considering commenting on this thread really should read the 2008 CT thread to which JQ links. You will probably find your point anticipated there.

How is it that this, which I am guessing should be the book’s soundtrack, is missing?

11

Kiwanda 11.28.21 at 8:53 pm

On yet more reflection, this discussion of pain and pleasure is blind to likely future technological advances, by which pain itself will be eliminated by genetic and/or surgical means, and instead of e.g. hunger, our phones (or their latterday equivalent) will simply tell us that for optimal health we should have a bite to eat, and, again by genetic and/or surgical means, that bite will be absolutely delicious.

Once we figure out how to do this for ourselves, we’ll need to employ its analog on e.g. fish, who will no longer mind being eaten, but will greatly enjoy eating. Now I look forward to a visit from advanced aliens, looking to give us that hedonic patch.

12

steven t johnson 11.28.21 at 10:12 pm

There is no case for being born, as it is not within the power of nonexistent persons to decide the issue.

The case for having children, from a utilitarian point of view, is that children will keep the lights on, so to speak, when the parents are old. In the old days, men and women bred farm hands. In other days, the children were actually providing personally the financial support and physical care for their progenitors. Today, the prospect is that new generations will keep civilization going. To be sure, these purposes were not always fulfilled in individual cases. Perhaps the child(ren) died young. Or perhaps they refused to meet perform as expected, despite indoctrination. But all business partnerships have the same element of chance and risk of default.

A TV example of this issue is the already defunct series Y: The Last Man. Almost none of the female characters seems to be aware that they personally will have a miserable old age, if any, because of the lack of children. (I suspect that’s because the unspoken premise of Y is that the extinction of men is a happy ending, which did make the drama kind of flabby. [Also, the sole male hero was necessarily reduced to the reproductive function, which seemed to strike most viewers as antiheroic, in the bad sense of the word.])

13

Slanted Answer 11.28.21 at 10:33 pm

@Theophylact

“Why is it a given that the absence of pleasure is morally neutral?”

He doesn’t treat it as a given. He argues that the pain/pleasure asymmetry is presupposed/explained by our everyday moral reasoning. In the book he goes through a number of cases where he thinks the asymmetry applies. Unfortunately, I don’t have the book anymore, but, if I remember correctly, one instance is about the non-existence of happy beings in places we don’t care about. That is, we think that suffering on Earth is bad, but we don’t think that the non-existence of happy beings on Mars (or somewhere else remote) is bad. He argues the absence of pain being neutral helps explain that.

Having said that, I do think the counterexample you give has merit, and that raising worries about the asymmetry is a fruitful way to go. I didn’t raise the argument because I’m convinced by it, but because I think the argument needs to be made explicit, because the points raised in the OP are misunderstanding what Benatar is doing and so aren’t an effective way to refute his anti-natalism.

14

nastywoman 11.29.21 at 6:56 am

a… dude I know was born on the same day in Germany as another… dude was born in Australia and when both of them found out – at a Thanksgiving Dinner in Zürich Switzerland the decided to celebrate their 65th Birthday together in Verona Italy –
and at that Birthday Party they decided to celebrate their 70th Birthday in Melbourne –
where teh Australian from Zürich had to move back to – because the Swiss make Professors retire when they reach retirement age –
AND then came –
‘THE VIRUS’
and the… dude from Germany who was born on the same day as the dude form Australia
never could make it to Australia in order to celebrate TOGETHER that they were born seventy years ago –
AND that depressed the dude from Germany so immensely that he thought –
NO –
not about killing himself –
BUT –
that he might die –
without ever have seen Bondi Beach –
(like his daughter)

15

John Quiggin 11.29.21 at 7:39 am

@Slanted

Thus I take it whether suicide is an option should be irrelevant on his account.”

seems to me to contradict what immediately follows

People could lead very happy lives by our standards, but, if anything bad happens to them, it would’ve been better for them not to exist (i.e., even extremely bearable lives aren’t worth living).

So, given that we know at least some bad things are going to happen to us (along with lots of good things), and assuming that we have a suicide option that is painless to us and ought to be approved of by others, shouldn’t we take that option and preclude the bad outcome?

Benatar avoids this conclusion by referring to contingently bad aspects of suicide (pain, grief caused to others), but the obvious inference is that his claimed asymmetry doesn’t apply to people who actually exist, considering our own futures.

16

nastywoman 11.29.21 at 7:46 am

‘So, given that we know at least some bad things are going to happen to us (along with lots of good things), and assuming that we have a suicide option that is painless to us and ought to be approved of by others, shouldn’t we take that option and preclude the bad outcome?’

It’s not worth to kill oneself for never have seen Bondi Beach.

17

Tm 11.29.21 at 12:34 pm

“the absence of pleasure is morally neutral, while the absence of pain is morally good. It follows from this, he thinks, that we shouldn’t have children, because, even if they lead very good lives, that goodness would be morally neutral, while any pain they experience would be morally bad”

Does it mean that the presence of pleasure is also morally neutral? If that is the case, then yes, by definition no life can ever have a positive utility value. That might be a consistent philosophical position but I fail to see why it should be worth engaging with, since it is simply based on making an unjustified assumption that runs counter most people’s experience.

“we think that suffering on Earth is bad, but we don’t think that the non-existence of happy beings on Mars (or somewhere else remote) is bad”

Do “we” think that? I don’t think that the non-existence of life on Mars can be morally evaluated. Moral considerations would only enter the equation if we somehow were responsible for the existence/non-existence and happiness/unhappiness of the Martians.

18

MisterMr 11.29.21 at 2:33 pm

@Matt 7

” But that’s a distinct issue from utility being “objective” in the sense you seem to be suggesting.”

I’m not suggesting that utility is objective (I also have doubts about that).
My point is that Bentham assumes that utility is objective, and therefore there is no point in criticizing his theory (that I take as the prototypical version of utilitarianism) through arguments that don’t assume that utility is objective, as it amounts to criticize a different theory, not Bentham and not usual utilitarianism.

About the tought experiments:

about the utility monster, I’ll take the definition from Wikipedia:

Nozick deems these exploiters “utility monsters” (and for ease of understanding, they might also be thought of as happiness hogs). Nozick poses utility monsters justify their greediness with the notion that, compared to others, they experience greater inequality or sadness in the world, and deserve more happy units to bridge this gap. People not part of the utility monster group (or not the utility monster individual themselves) are left with less happy units to be split among the members. Utility monsters state that the others are happier in the world to begin with, so they would not need those extra happy units to which they lay claim anyway.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utility_monster

The utility monster in this case is the same of the sick child in case 2: I give him more care because he needs more care than the healthy child.
However I don’t give him infinite care, to the point of completely neglecting the healthy child (or myself).
At some pint, it might become necessary to let the sick child die, if the cost of keeping him alive is too high.
This is sadly something that actually happens in real life (e.g. during the worst part of the covid emergency here in Italy the NHS had to apply triage), and people make this kind of very hard choices more or less in the way utilitarianism expects (e.g. if the doctor has to choose between a 50y old man and a 70y old man he will choose the 50y old man because he has more to lose).
This is possible because the difference in utility between the two childs is approximately measurable (and therefore objective), whereas the utility monster experiment works because the monster for some reason is supposed to need infinite utility, to the point that everyone else has to suffer immensely to keep it alive; but this doesn’t make sense with “objective” utility because at some point the utility the other lose will be more than what the monster gains.

About the violinist, the example I had in mind is this: suppose there is a violinist who is very good, and therefore everyone who hears him gets a lot of utility, really a lot. You have to choose tho keep the violinist alive and kill 100 kids or keep 100 kids alive and kill the violinist.
But the utility that comes from the violinist is more than that of the 100 kids being alive, so you have to kill the 100 kids.

This mental experiment is quite similar to the utility monster: we all know that the utility that one can get from hearing a violinist can’t be that high, so with objective utility the problem doesn’t happen (or from another point of view, our intuition goes against utilitarianism only because whomever created the experiment calculated the utility wrong, so in reality our intuition agrees with utilitarianism and disagrees with the calculation of the experiment creator, so it’s not really a refutation of utilitarianism).

Finally, I’ll state again that I agree that “the problem of interpersonal comparisons can’t really be happily solved by fiat”, and also I believe that I will allways put at least a bit my personal interests above that of others, which is also a problem for utilitarianism.
But I think a productive critic of utilitarianism should start from this, whereas usual critiques go somehow off target because they skip the problem of objectivity/interpersonal comparison.

19

Slanted Answer 11.29.21 at 5:31 pm

@John Quiggin

Thanks for clarifying, John. I think I see what you’re gettin at now, but let me spell it out to make sure.

It seems to me that there are two questions here that might be running together:

(1) Is reproduction morally permissible? (Benatar says “no.”)
(2) Should those of us who are alive commit suicide? (Benatar says “mostly no.”)

I took the OP as arguing, against Benatar, that the answer to (2) should be “yes” (or
“mostly yes”) on his account if he’s being consistent. The OP then seems to further argue that being permissive about suicide should lead us to think that the answer to (1) should also be “yes.” That’s what I took from the statement “Once that position is established there’s no problem bringing new people into the world. If they don’t like it they can always kill themselves.” (And the title of the post being “The case for being born.”)

My response about the asymmetry argument and the irrelevance of suicide was about that further argument. If Benatar is right that non-existence is always preferable to existence, that seems a strong reason not to reproduce. The fact that suicide is an option would be irrelevant to that, because existence isn’t good for anyone, even for people who won’t want to commit suicide (i.e., those who think life is highly bearable/happy). If that’s right, then it would still ultimately be better for people not to reproduce than to be permissive about reproduction and about suicide. The point at the end of the OP about being realistic about why people actually commit suicide (which I think is right) also supports favoring anti-natalism over permissiveness about suicide. So the answer to (1) would still be “no.”

20

mcd 11.29.21 at 11:11 pm

I have to think about this more, but after reading the comments , especially # 18, doesn’t the utility of human life discussion intersect with the trolley problem?

21

Quiop 11.30.21 at 12:34 am

Surely it is possible to be mistaken in one’s choice of life partner? People sometimes stay in abusive relationships because they fail to recognize those relationships as abusive. I haven’t read Benatar’s book, but certain aspects of his argument seem analogous to a claim that our relationship with life itself is an abusive one.

22

KT2 11.30.21 at 6:24 am

MisterMr “here in Italy the NHS had to apply triage) ”

I still haven’t had an answer from some ‘serious people’ on raw data which QALY’s and statistical life measure drop from the get go, as “outliers”. Those triage decisions may be different because of the noise and outliers removed from analysis.

Nastywoman, how about a fund ala Canteen & Make a Wish foundation which provides kids with cancer a wish. It would be a trip to Bondi (not the best chooice but I’ll run with it) able to be prescribed by 2 x doctors to provide a huge and long term serotonin and kindness infusion and brain rewiring experience.

But first try psycodellics and MDMA.

23

roko's anole 11.30.21 at 8:45 am

what about variation in global circumstances? i dont think i would have consigned my offspring to a lifetime of creeping or worse fascism in the US, and throwing-up-of-hands on climate change if i had thought that was a possible outcome. how is one to assess the future to be able to make those decisions, from the standpoint of moral philosophy?

this is a genuine question; within a month of the 2016 US election, i was also ejected from the professional program i had been working towards for a decade, entirely on student loans, and partner/coparent announced they would be seeking a divorce. there is no way i could have anticipated all these things happening at once. even now, i am essentially indigent.

i am here for my offspring, and a good parent. but i spent many evenings wondering whether there was some way to commit suicide in a way that would be minimally damaging. it was the plot of some notional fictional i never wrote, a child thinking they lost a parent from an accident discovering that death was in fact a suicide planned in deep detail. what does that do to a person? could i consign this young being who i loved to that, could i risk the possibility my weakness in the face of deep pain would be uncovered, possibly even years later?

one has no idea how dark things can get without perfect knowledge of the future. all we can do is care for those around us and hold on ourselves as best we can. and forgive those who let go, even if in doing so they wound us.

24

Sashas 11.30.21 at 2:38 pm

@MisterMr 18

I will allways put at least a bit my personal interests above that of others, which is also a problem for utilitarianism.

Not as much of a problem as it first appears. If we take an objective utility calculation as our baseline, what I’m expected to do about it as an individual must still be filtered through my ability to accurately calculate which actions will have what utility effects and my ability to successfully see an attempted utility improvement through.

For the first, I think it’s probably not controversial to claim that I am more accurate the closer to me I look. So a natural expectation (from an objective utilitarian standpoint) is that we advocate for ourselves. I can tell you that I would rather watch a soccer game than a basketball game, for example, which matters for global utility and probably isn’t something you could figure out for yourself.

For the second, I can buy a meal for someone who needs one in my hometown and be reasonably confident that I successfully increased global utility by one hungry person –> one person who got dinner today. (In fact, when I buy myself dinner, this is 100% guaranteed!) If I want to act at a distance, then I need to filter my attempt through intermediaries, any of whom might either not share my goals or just fail in their attempt. The exact numbers are relevant to my decision-making, since often the same amount of $ can result in more dinners this way, but if we hold the costs equal and the eventual benefits equal I should always choose to feed someone locally.

Together, the resulting heuristic is that even though I hold an objective standard of utility and I don’t prioritize my well-being above others’, it is natural for it to feel and look like I do.

As a general comment on this thread and the arguments here, I find discussions of utilitarianism to be very interesting. I think that anyone acting on Benatar’s advice is quite likely to be doing something deeply immoral. I’m having trouble articulating precisely what my issue is (sure sign of a strong argument, I know…), but something about this feels deeply eugenics-y.

25

MisterMr 11.30.21 at 3:58 pm

@Sashas 24

As I see it, the problem is this:

Suppose that I want a job, but there are two candidates for the job, you and me. I also know that we both want the job the same and that we are both equally qualified.

From an objective utility standpoint, it should be indifferent to me wether I or you get the job.

First of all this is not how people realistically think, and second wouldn’t even be a healthy way of thinking IMHO, because it means that I’m completely disregarding my desires, and this is in itself a bad thing (it has negative utility).

This concept of objective utility is, in some sense, the concept of utility as perceived by someone who is completely super partes (and hence objective), however it seems to me there is a contradiction between the concept of utility and that of being completely super pertes, and then even if I could understand this utility from a super partes point of view, I’m not super partes, I’m a player in the game of life not the referee.
So at what point should I swap my preferences with those of the postulated super partes observer? There is a problem IMHO.

26

Sashas 11.30.21 at 7:21 pm

(This is starting to feel like a tangent. Happy to take it to the next open thread if that’s preferred.)

@MisterMr 25

Interestingly, I’ve been in the situation you just described. I and a grad school colleague both applied to the same job. We were both qualified for it to about the same degree–not perfect fits, but decent. We both wanted it about the same amount–it would have been a good job for either of us, but not our dream job by any means. I knew all of this at the time, and in fact I was indifferent as to whether he got it or I did. (In reality, sadly, neither of us got the job.)

One thing you’ve left out that I think is important is that our external circumstances were the same. Neither of us was going to starve if we didn’t get the job–we could keep working on our degrees–and neither of us had other job opportunities we were looking at at the time.

I don’t think you’re really trying to say my stance in this real world scenario was unhealthy, but please do correct me if I’m wrong about that. I certainly wasn’t disregarding my desires. I was just also taking into account his desires, since I happened to know them.

I’m not sure what “super partes” means. Regarding your game analogy though, that seems deeply flawed. You appear to be arguing for a set of personal preferences that amounts to me trying to collect maximum points, and comparing it to an ethical imperative to ensure maximum points are distributed globally.

Speaking for myself, I attempt to maximize the amount of new points I am bringing into the game for distribution. Since we all specialize to one degree or another, it is absolutely essential that we be able to trade different flavors of points. e.g. I can make lots of “education” points, but I can’t make any “really good burrito” points. Since I want really good burritos from time to time, I need to do some trading and I try to make the trades fair. All of this really has to function through heuristics, because no one can possibly hope to individually calculate the global optimal distribution. How does what I’m doing fit into your theory?

27

nastywoman 11.30.21 at 10:06 pm

@
‘first try psycodellics and MDMA

You are joking – Right?
And about: ‘how about a fund ala Canteen & Make a Wish foundation which provides kids with cancer a wish’.

How did you know that I’m a supporter of the ‘Nachsorgeklinik Tannheim’?
And about:
‘It would be a trip to Bondi (not the best chooice but I’ll run with it) –

No it wouldn’t – at least NOT for the old dude I told you about – as he also is a supporter of the ‘Nachsorgeklinik Tannheim’
BUT
at the same
time –
for his old surfer-bones it had become obvious that their future pains outweigh their future pleasures – and anywhoo – he wasn’t -(isn’t) willing -(yet) to commit suicide.

Which we can’t say about the Californian Golfer I knew who committed suicide after he couldn’t Golf anymore – and using such a supposedly ‘frivolous’ example –
as an example – was meant to… to ‘expose’ the absurdity of – The case for NOT being born.

28

TheSophist 11.30.21 at 10:26 pm

Not that it makes a difference, but the New Yorker article referenced in the OP is from 2017. Interestingly, the same article has been popping up in my “New Yorker Favorites”. I guess JQ and I must both have read something that made the New Yorker Panopticon go “he might like the Benatar article”.

I did read the book after the 2008 thread, and I plead guilty to having debuted the argument in Policy Debate (or to be precise, I cut the argument and then the team I coached used it.) The book is worth reading, just as a thought experiment and a moral phil argument.

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