• Srap Tasmaner
    3.1k
    Suppose you take action to give someone life, either by preventing them from dying or by procreating. Given the instinct for self preservation that all living organisms appear to share, and which can only be overcome by extreme experiences (resulting in suicide or self sacrifice), your actions are exactly the actions the person whose life you preserve would take if they could (not in every case, but in nearly every). And they are almost certain to approve of your actions. And they are unlikely willingly to give up what you have given them.

    No other act of gift giving has such a high success rate, that is, results so often in such a strong attachment to the gift received. It is the standard by which all other gifts are measured. In which case, you need reasons not to do it for the question of whether you should even to arise. If you're about to save someone's life but you know they'll live on in a permanent vegetative state, you'll have a think. If you and your procreating partner both carry some rare gene that causes a terrible disease, you'll have a think. Very little rises to the level where it's at all likely that the receiver of the gift of life will disapprove of your actions and not be fiercely attached to the life you have given them.
  • ToothyMaw
    610
    Very little rises to the level where it's at all likely that the receiver of the gift of life will disapprove of your actions and not be fiercely attached to the life you have given them.Srap Tasmaner

    I think that this happens more often than you might think. Not to mention one can only appreciate their life after having been given life; that someone will appreciate being alive after having been given life is different from there being an external, abstract motivation to give life before it is given (which doesn't exist). Thus, giving life is only given value after you you have made the decision; there is no should or should not at all until it is done - barring having knowledge that those you bring into existence will suffer and die and not appreciate having been given life. It seems to me should not is both more pertinent than should and exists independently of should.
  • 180 Proof
    6k
    If you're about to save someone's life but you know they'll live on in a permanent vegetative state, you'll have a think. If you and your procreating partner both carry some rare gene that causes a terrible disease, you'll have a think.Srap Tasmaner
    I think in both cases denying those lives saves life.
  • ToothyMaw
    610


    I think it reduces suffering. How does it save life?
  • T Clark
    6.6k


    As you note, this is not exactly an argument for natalism or against anti-natalism. Our anti-natalist friends will not be convinced in the slightest. I'm sure you know that.

    I see that you have become a moderator. Thank you. I'll try to be nice.
  • 180 Proof
    6k
    I think it reduces suffering. How does it save life?ToothyMaw
    By euthanizing (by inaction) in the first case and not proceating or aborting in the second, inherently diminished, or abject, living conditions are prevented (not merely "reduced").
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.1k
    It seems to me should not is both more pertinent than should and exists independently of should.ToothyMaw

    I'm not following this. Can you take another swing at it?

    I think it reduces suffering.ToothyMaw

    So does this: you come to me with a toothache and I shoot you in the head.

    this is not exactly an argument for natalism or against anti-natalism.T Clark

    No it's not. Just a stray thought. Procreating is the default. One way to describe that is by chalking it up to reproduction being instinctive (insert selfish gene theory if necessary). Saving lives is the default, with the same explanation (insert something about the evolutionary expansion of kin affinity if necessary).

    Maybe it's not all that unusual -- if you see someone beating up someone else, there's little reason to think the victim won't approve of you intervening, and if they could stop the beating themselves they would. Life-giving and -preserving actions are just the most extreme version of this. I was thinking about this point of @Outlander:

    Yet we still seem to be deviating or at least dismissing (which if you choose to admit and broadcast will result in utter failure of any alleged important goal) the fact that some people like how it is, the good and the bad, the give and take, the uncertainty.Outlander

    and how @khaled regularly (since his conversion) mentions that most people like life. I was just thinking that we can say a bit more: almost everyone is fanatically committed to having their own life continue and will gratefully be the beneficiary of almost any (within some ethical boundaries) effort to bring that about. People who lose everything to wildfires or hurricanes don't kill themselves en masse. The overwhelming majority of people who suffer all sorts of tragedies don't respond by immediately taking their own lives.

    Meanwhile the neighborhood anti-natalist suggests that having to wait in line sucks, having to hold down a job sucks, and you add up these and similar injustices and life just sucks. Humanity at large has considered this question and disagrees. I think almost all of humanity, if they think about it, agrees with @Outlander; I thought I'd throw in something about why they don't bother to think about it, why it's not only a matter of instinct but a perfectly reasonable default view.
  • Manuel
    1.6k
    I thought I'd throw in something about why they don't bother to think about it, why it's not only a matter of instinct but a perfectly reasonable default view.Srap Tasmaner

    Well, it's difficult. I suspect that, despite claims to the contrary, AN is connected with personal disposition. They happen to be the kinds of people who feel the negatives of life more than the positives.

    I believe most people don't like to think much, it can set one off in a series of endless, often unsettling questions.

    But if I had to guess, it might simply boil down to the fact that experience is almost infinitely rich, whereas in non-being (what before birth and after death presumably are) there is nothing at all. The differences couldn't be higher.
  • darthbarracuda
    3.4k
    And they are unlikely willingly to give up what you have given them.Srap Tasmaner

    It is conceivable that a person can simultaneously have a desire and also desire that they do not have this desire, e.g. an alcoholic who wishes they could stop drinking, a depressive who wishes they did not have the instinct to live, etc. Simply having a desire does not entail being appreciative of having this desire.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.1k
    Yes, and I was hoping someone would say something like this.

    I'm inclined to say that people feel attached to life whether they want to be or not. People who have suffered tragedy, loss of loved ones, go on, but might be inclined to say they'd rather not.

    What are we to make of that? Anything?
  • 180 Proof
    6k
    What are we to make of that?Srap Tasmaner
    My guess: in the Gaussian main, we h. sapiens have been reliably 'bio-cognitively programmed' (i.e. driven) by natural selection pressures to live on despite abject exigencies. "To be or not to be" seems very much – mostly –a first world (e.g. Danish prince's) problem.
  • TheMadFool
    12.6k
    Saving a life isn't the same as giving a life. In the former, there's the self-preservation instinct that becomes the basis for the gift view of life. In the latter, no such factor exists; plus, in this case, we need to assess the overall hedonic value of life which, in the past & the present, was/is negative. You (OP) seem to intuit this when you talk about hereditary illnesses and vegetative states.
  • ToothyMaw
    610
    It seems to me should not is both more pertinent than should and exists independently of should.
    — ToothyMaw

    I'm not following this. Can you take another swing at it?
    Srap Tasmaner

    I'm saying that life is only potentially given value after it is given, thus reasons we should not bring life into the world are more pertinent than reasons to do it; if it is so likely that people will appreciate existing, and natalism is the default, then the most important factor is whether or not there is some sort of condition that will prevent them from appreciating existing after being given life. Thus, once again, reasons for - such as the instinctual drive to procreate - are categorically distinct from more important reasons against - a child being brought into the world that will experience only pain and die shortly. And while I am no anti-natalist, I think that it is selfish to bring a child into the world merely for the purposes of furthering your genes if you cannot properly care for them.

    So does this: you come to me with a toothache and I shoot you in the head.Srap Tasmaner

    Did I say that minimizing suffering is so important we should shoot people in the head for having toothaches? Did I even say anything about why we should minimize suffering at all? I see being promoted to mod status gave you mind-reading skills.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.1k


    Yes, our commitment to continue living appears to be instinctive. We might, in considering our own situation, choose to discount it as a bias; but when making a decision about whether to give life to another person, we can rely on it --- that is, you don't need to know anything else about the person (their tastes and preferences) to know that this is exactly the sort of thing they would want. I can't assume that random person who's just been in a car accident would wish to own a copy of Brilliant Corners; I can assume they want me to call 911. That's all.

    we need to assess the overall hedonic value of lifeTheMadFool

    By and large we apparently don't. I think there are really unusual boundary cases, sure, just as real people do face circumstances that can overcome their commitment to self-preservation. But the evidence says people will put up with a lot.

    if it is so likely that people will appreciate existing, and natalism is the default, then the most important factor is whether or not there is some sort of condition that will prevent them from appreciating existing after being given life.ToothyMaw

    I really thought I had said almost exactly that. (But then the OP also mentioned instinct and people are still pointing out to me that it's instinct.) My point was that the presumption for life is so strong, that you need a pretty extreme negative on the table before you're anywhere near the threshold of it being a close call, worth thinking about.

    There have been people who took "be fruitful and multiply" as a divine commandment; on that view, having children is a moral duty, and you should have basically as many as you can manage. I'm not saying that. I could also hold a view that life is pretty swell, and I could count that as something on the "pro" side when considering whether to save or give life, to be weighed against whatever negatives come up. I'm not saying that either. I'm saying, more or less, that life needs no argument. It is the default. The cases where the question even arises are already at some extreme of experience. The behavior of billions and billions of people shows this clearly. And I'm saying we might want to acknowledge that in the way we think about it.

    Did I say that minimizing suffering is so important we should shoot people in the head for having toothaches?ToothyMaw

    Just having a little fun. I wasn't impugning your character or your intellect.
  • TheMadFool
    12.6k
    By and large we apparently don't. I think there are really unusual boundary cases, sure, just as real people do face circumstances that can overcome their commitment to self-preservation. But the evidence says people will put up with a lot.Srap Tasmaner

    Still that "troublesome" self-preservation drive at work, I'm afraid. This is the paradox: we need to fear death to live but we have to die to...??? Why would we/God want to say, "ok, that's enough, I'm done/leaving or you have to go!" Something rather painful awaits an immortal or is life simply boring after a point?
  • tim wood
    7.9k
    to give someone life,Srap Tasmaner
    When did, or does, that ever happen?
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.1k
    It's an idiom.

    Here it's meant to cover keeping someone from dying, resuscitating them, and procreating.

    If you want to be pedantic, something like "taking steps to further the goal of a particular person being alive at a future time."
  • tim wood
    7.9k
    It's an idiom.Srap Tasmaner
    Sure, and usually well-understood in its contexts. But misapplied leads to wrong thinking. Life is not in anyone's gift. Ending, yes; giving, no.

    The whole notion of "giving" life evaporates, the more closely looked at. And it imports a false teleological notion as well. In terms of procreation, what, exactly, do you think sex is for? If your reflex is to answer to reproduce, I invite you to scrutinize that thought more closely.
  • khaled
    3.2k
    An AN would tell you it’s not a valid comparison because in the case of saving someone, there is someone to be hurt for you failing to save them. In the case of having children there is no one they is hurt for failure to be born (since they don’t exist). Which I think is a valid critique.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.1k
    Not interested. There's plenty of opportunity to have related discussions on their terms. I'm offering an alternative, not a counter-argument.

    The whole notion of "giving" life evaporatestim wood

    What whole notion? Did you think I'm doing science here? Anyway, I provided an alternative if colorful English fails to meet your standards of precision.
  • schopenhauer1
    6.2k
    No other act of gift giving has such a high success rate, that is, results so often in such a strong attachment to the gift received. It is the standard by which all other gifts are measured. In which case, you need reasons not to do it for the question of whether you should even to arise. If you're about to save someone's life but you know they'll live on in a permanent vegetative state, you'll have a think. If you and your procreating partner both carry some rare gene that causes a terrible disease, you'll have a think. Very little rises to the level where it's at all likely that the receiver of the gift of life will disapprove of your actions and not be fiercely attached to the life you have given them.Srap Tasmaner

    Have you ever read David Benatar's Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence?

    He makes a distinction between starting a life and continuing a life. There are different things to consider with both.
  • tim wood
    7.9k
    If you want to be pedantic, something like "taking steps to further the goal of a particular person being alive at a future time."Srap Tasmaner
    Colorful language is good, sez I. Except when, for any number of reasons, it isn't. In the case of procreation, and with reference to @khaled's remark, what particular person? And how? And when?

    Or, this may not be worth pursuing. Either way is good.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.1k
    He makes a distinction between starting a life and continuing a life.schopenhauer1

    I think English had already enshrined the distinction.

    There are different things to consider with both.schopenhauer1

    That is a true thing to say.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.1k
    In the case of procreation, and with reference to khaled's remark, what particular person? And how? And when?tim wood

    Human reproduction is a fact. I would like, if possible, not to become entangled in the metaphysics of how two people become three people. At some point in this process, the two we all agree on treat the third as a person, or consider them as they would consider a person. That may happen before conception, during pregnancy, at delivery, or even at some other time. Doesn't matter to me which, for the sake of this discussion.
  • ToothyMaw
    610
    if it is so likely that people will appreciate existing, and natalism is the default, then the most important factor is whether or not there is some sort of condition that will prevent them from appreciating existing after being given life.
    — ToothyMaw

    I really thought I had said almost exactly that. (But then the OP also mentioned instinct and people are still pointing out to me that it's instinct.)
    Srap Tasmaner

    My point was that there is no reason for should that is comparable to reasons for should not and that should not is the main consideration - perhaps the only consideration - that really matters when it comes to the act of bringing someone into the world and whether or not said person will predicate value to their own life. Which is not so much a sort-of argument for natalism but rather an argument for more prudent selection for giving life.
  • 180 Proof
    6k
    This is the paradox: we need to fear death to live but we have to die to...???TheMadFool
    ... to make room for descendents. After all, genomic self-replicators self-replicate or perish: without mortality, I think, natality would not be sufficiently urgent or adaptive in nature (for vertebrates).

    Something rather painful awaits an immortal or is life simply boring after a point?
    Life, as some killjoy pointed out, more or less vacillates between 'boredom and pain' (which we use culture, entertainment and/or various modes of intoxication to distract ourselves from) so at anytime prematurely checking-out of The No Exit Hotel always has its charms. Immortality? Boredom becomes unconscious (apathetic?) orgasm, or the most sublime form of ceaseless yoga. I'd give it go. :death: :flower:
  • TheMadFool
    12.6k
    ... to make room for descendents. After all, genomic self-replicators self-replicate or perish: without mortality, I think, natality would not be sufficiently urgent or adaptive in nature (for vertebrates).180 Proof

    Space is at a premium. Lebensraum (Hitler, 1 September 1939).
  • baker
    2.9k
    to make room for descendents. After all, genomic self-replicators self-replicate or perish: without mortality, I think, natality would not be sufficiently urgent or adaptive in nature (for vertebrates).180 Proof

    Ergo, those who feel immortal, who have a sense that their life will somehow go on forever, have no biological desire to reproduce. Ha!


    A sense of one's own immortality, a sense that one's life will somehow go on forever needn't be a sign of megalomania; it can be a sign of feeling desperately trapped in one's situation.
  • ToothyMaw
    610


    An example to demonstrate why I believe your argument isn't what you think it is: maybe you want to bring into the world the next greatest violin virtuoso, but you know that they will have a rare disease that will cause them significant chronic pain - but not so much that they cannot become a virtuoso. You conceive the child and they become the virtuoso you so desired - but they don't want to live because of their pain; they wish that they hadn't been born. Does your pleasure actually give their life value? Perhaps it gives it some external value; but they don't value their own life, and I would argue that that is what matters if you are correct in your OP; you basically admit that reasons for should not do not compare to reasons for should.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.1k
    Does your pleasure actually give their life value?ToothyMaw

    This is not even in the ballpark of what I've been posting. Maybe that's why I haven't been able to understand your responses.
  • 180 Proof
    6k
    You must've missed it: I referred to genomes (genes) with no mention of "those who feel immortal".

    Careful, Fool. Don't confuse mortality as a 'genetic imperative' with ethnic cleansing & mass-murder. That Ought doesn't follow from any Is.
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