• ToothyMaw
    610
    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.Srap Tasmaner

    Here I thought I said something worth saying!
  • baker
    2.9k
    You must've missed it: I referred to genomes (genes) with no mention of "those who feel immortal".180 Proof

    It's people who reproduce. People make the decision to reproduce, or not. It's not that their genes somehow run the show.
  • TheMadFool
    12.6k
    Careful, Fool. Don't confuse mortality as a 'genetic imperative' with ethnic cleasing & mass-murder. That Ought doesn't follow from any Is.180 Proof

    :ok:
  • 180 Proof
    6k
    Missing the forest for the trees again. It really helps to read what's written in context before you reply; but okay, if you say so, b. :roll:
  • ToothyMaw
    610


    Either I hit a nerve or you aren't trying very hard. My point, once again, is that in the context of whether or not someone should be given life, the most important factor is whether or not they will value their life. In my example the violinist didn't value their life, but there were reasons for the person to continue being the violin virtuoso they were, even if they were pretty crappy reasons. If you are correct in your OP and reasons for not giving life are basically the only reasons that matter, then that the violinist doesn't want to live - something that could have been predicted - is imperative. So it seems to me whatever reasons might be used to justify giving life are definitely eclipsed by good reasons not to give life. Thus, your argument is more an argument for greater prudence in giving life, and not in support of natalism much at all.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.1k
    If you are correct in your OP and reasons for not giving life are basically the only reasons that matter,ToothyMaw

    I don't think that's what I said. My claim, in a nutshell, is that we do not, as a matter of course, need a reason to save a life or create one. Under some circumstances, there may be an obvious and powerful reason not to, and then you can begin to weigh this against that, collect your pros and cons, etc. An extraordinary prima facie reason against first gets you to this point, to it being a decision, and maybe it carries the day, maybe not, but what it will square off against is not the assumption in favor of life, but actual reasons, stuff we like about life or value or feel some obligation to, perhaps even religious obligation.

    Perhaps it's still not clear what I'm saying, and if I can't somehow make it clear, then maybe this is just a lousy idea.

    One oddity of my claim is that I've presented it as if our knowledge of self-preservation is itself a reason. That might be true, but it's a little weird. It is a convenient way to present the tremendous evidence that life needs no argument, no justification.
  • ToothyMaw
    610
    I don't think that's what I said. My claim, in a nutshell, is that we do not, as a matter of course, need a reason to save a life or create one. Under some circumstances, there may be an obvious and powerful reason not to, and then you can begin to weigh this against that, collect your pros and cons, etc.Srap Tasmaner

    So reasons for giving life only need be considered once there is a reason not to give life? That sounds specious; should we not always act for reasons? But I get what you are saying now - you represented it much more clearly.
  • ToothyMaw
    610


    You actually do cite a reason for giving life in absence of of a good reason not to: that the person you are giving life to would have acted the same in your shoes - which makes sense to me. Your OP was well-written, don't doubt it, we forum members are just being a little obtuse - or at least I was.
  • ToothyMaw
    610
    One oddity of my claim is that I've presented it as if our knowledge of self-preservation is itself a reason. That might be true, but it's a little weird.Srap Tasmaner

    Is this a reference to this?

    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 couldSrap Tasmaner
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.1k
    That sounds speciousToothyMaw

    Excellent! Seriously, this just what I'd like to hear.

    You actually do cite a reason for giving life in absence of of a good reason not toToothyMaw

    It's true. Maybe now that I've spent a little time with the idea I'd express this differently.

    should we not always act for reasons?ToothyMaw

    On the one hand, we don't. On the other, we couldn't. On the third hand, no.

    I think our behavior can be described in terms of reasons or in terms of causes. If someone else talks about my reasons for acting as I did, they're at most reporting what I said; but they can refer to things I may not even be aware of, and that will sound more like a causal explanation than a rational one. (Is that obvious, or do we need examples?) We sometimes speak of ourselves in these sort of causal terms as well, but I think it's more natural, more common to speak of our reasons because we're more confident we know them. (Again, the causes driving our behavior turn out often enough to be things we're unaware of to be discomfiting. I blame Freud.) ((Also not saying we do know our reasons; I'm trying to avoid doing much psychology here.))

    To connect that with the talk of "instinct" I've been throwing around: I don't think we experience our instincts as reasons for behaving the way we do; I think we experience them as needing no reason at all for what we do. (Only for the specific elements of our behavior we think of as wired in, of course.) But now I can come along, as an amateur philosopher, and I can look at the behavior people engage in without thinking, as the saying goes, and I can offer an explanation -- and in this case it's the bit about self-preservation and so on. (Another amateur philosopher might say, instead, that everyone has "bought into the Narrative" or something like that. I hope I'm more convincing.)

    Procreation is admittedly the messy part of this, so I think a person in peril is an easier place to start. It seems to me we do not reason our way to offering help or trying to get help, we do not feel there's a decision to be made here at all --- not as a rule, mind you, but if say there's great risk in helping and little chance of success, then yeah you might start to think about your chances of success. More than that, I think most people would be somewhat repulsed by the idea that someone would make a rational analysis and reach a decision before helping someone else in peril.

    All I'm trying to do is shine a spotlight on this element of our lives. It's not an argument for anything, just trying to understand how we really think about life and death questions. Or, rather, mostly don't think.
  • khaled
    3.2k
    Not interested. There's plenty of opportunity to have related discussions on their termsSrap Tasmaner

    What? This isn’t about “their terms” and “our terms”. You offered a comparison that is invalid. Every antinatalist is aware that people generally like life (except @schopenhauer1 seems to remain unconvinced regardless of evidence presented)

    Arguing badly against stupid positions is the best way to reinforce them.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.1k


    We both reject the conclusion of the anti-natalist argument.

    Does that conclusion follow from the premises offered by the anti-natalist? I think, by and large, it does. It's not a complicated argument.

    Perhaps they rely on some suppressed premise, one you could conceivably get them to reject. Perhaps they make an inference that is unsound in some very subtle way.

    Figuring out how a paradox works is fun, but it's not necessary for rejecting its conclusion.

    You could look at this thread as an "argument" for starting from different premises.
  • ToothyMaw
    610
    I think our behavior can be described in terms of reasons or in terms of causes. If someone else talks about my reasons for acting as I did, they're at most reporting what I said; but they can refer to things I may not even be aware of, and that will sound more like a causal explanation than a rational one. (Is that obvious, or do we need examples?)Srap Tasmaner

    That makes sense.

    To connect that with the talk of "instinct" I've been throwing around: I don't think we experience our instincts as reasons for behaving the way we do; I think we experience them as needing no reason at all for what we do.Srap Tasmaner

    Yes, acting in instinct is pretty much always an action devoid of a rationale. But is the default - natalism - right? Even if it is true that it is instinctual to give life, and people are largely happy to be alive, that doesn't mean we shouldn't act without reason in this context imo. It seems to me that your argument is not so much an argument but an explanation; if you are arguing that we should act in a certain way then you need reasons - either abstract or personal. I don't see how instinct can make right.

    I can come along, as an amateur philosopher, and I can look at the behavior people engage in without thinking, as the saying goes, and I can offer an explanation -- and in this case it's the bit about self-preservation and so on.Srap Tasmaner

    You correctly acknowledge here that you are explaining something more than making an argument. The only part of your argument that actually seems to be an argument is the reason that most people who are given life would have acted the same way as the person who saved them.
  • ToothyMaw
    610
    You could look at this thread as an "argument" for starting from different premises.Srap Tasmaner

    Yes, that sounds about right.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.1k


    Right. I'm not defending the instinct for self-preservation. But I am arguing that we can rely on all members of our species having the same instinct.

    I also claim that we already do this, in rendering aid to people in peril without analyzing whether they want it or not, and in most people who decide to have children not considering it a moral issue at all unless there are specific circumstances that raise the issue --- hereditary disease, a parent's personality disorder, extreme poverty. Such circumstances make it an issue; reproducing itself needs no justification.

    I think I'm comfortable claiming that this "extended instinct" is also rationally defensible, that we are perfectly right to rely on the approval of those whose future life we attempt to guarantee.

    So the whole claim is there's something we can rely on, and that we generally do, and that we should, but only defeasibly, taking into account all sorts of reasons when we find ourselves in circumstances that seem to call for a decision.

    Insofar as this relates to AN, it might be around here, if there's an assumption that reproducing is always a decision faced, always a moral question, always requires analysis of reasons. Of course, maybe AN only claims that something like that should be the case.
  • khaled
    3.2k
    Does that conclusion follow from the premises offered by the anti-natalist?Srap Tasmaner

    Yes. But comes with ridiculous baggage oftentimes.

    “Everything is wrong” also consistently leads to the antinatalist conclusion but also leads to charity being wrong which the antinatalist will disagree with, thus forcing them to re-examine their starting premises.

    Logical consistency isn’t an issue. Not with antinatalism or nazism or anything else. The inconsistency lies in an adherent’s inability to accept the full consequences of their premises. And if they can do so, there isn’t much room for argument.
  • ToothyMaw
    610
    Right. I'm not defending the instinct for self-preservation. But I am arguing that we can rely on all members of our species having the same instinct.Srap Tasmaner

    If you were making a direct argument in favor of natalism you would need to defend this instinct, but you are skirting the issue here, instead making more of an argument that natalism is natural - not right - then claiming that if it is natural it requires no reason. Thus, you say, giving life needs no reason. This is not a good argument.

    I also claim that we already do this, in rendering aid to people in peril without analyzing whether they want it or not, and in most people who decide to have children not considering it a moral issue at all unless there are specific circumstances that raise the issue --- hereditary disease, a parent's personality disorder, extreme poverty. Such circumstances make it an issue; reproducing itself needs no justification.Srap Tasmaner

    But according to an anti-natalist it does need a justification other than the one mentioned above; if I make the argument that procreation is always wrong because people suffer in ways that are asymmetric with sources of happiness, cannot consent to existing, etc. then you need to give me a reason for procreating to counter that. That people like being alive largely does not contend with the harms of bringing a person into the world according to an anti-natalist.
  • ToothyMaw
    610
    “Everything is wrong” also consistently leads to the antinatalist conclusion but also leads to charity being wrong which the antinatalist will disagree with, thus forcing them to re-examine their starting premises.khaled

    Just because there are multiple ways to reach a conclusion, and one of the ways is ridiculous, that doesn't reflect upon reasonable ways of reaching that same conclusion or the conclusion itself; you don't reach the conclusion that everything is wrong via typical anti-natalist reasoning.
  • khaled
    3.2k
    Just because there are multiple ways to reach a conclusion, and one of the ways is ridiculous, that doesn't reflect upon reasonable ways of reaching that same conclusion or the conclusion itselfToothyMaw

    I never said so. I was implying that all the ways of reaching the antinatalist conclusion come with ridiculous side effects, and the best way to argue against it is to highlight said ridiculous side effects.
  • ToothyMaw
    610
    I never said so. I was implying that all the ways of reaching the antinatalist conclusion come with ridiculous side effects, and the best way to argue against it is to highlight said ridiculous side effects.khaled

    I sincerely doubt anyone starts with the premise that "everything is wrong". And you cited it as a premise leading to the anti-natalist conclusion, not a side effect of it. So what I said remains valid: typical anti-natalist reasoning doesn't have ridiculous side effects like "charity is wrong".
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.1k
    The inconsistency lies in an adherent’s inability to accept the full consequences of their premises.khaled

    Sure. You can argue that someone holds B because of A, but A also entails C, and they shouldn't hold C, so they should give up A. That leaves B as an option, just unsupported.

    As I said, that can be fun, and I'll probably keep doing that, but it's also possible to start, as I do, from the position that B is insane.

    claiming that if it is natural it requires no reasonToothyMaw

    Ah, no, not really. I'm saying people behaving in this way do not experience themselves as needing a reason to do so, do not experience the need for decision at all.

    But according to an anti-natalist it does need a justificationToothyMaw

    On the one hand, I'm claiming that there is a way to construe our behavior as reasonable -- this is the claim that the person affected by our actions would want us to behave that way, because they have the same instinct we do. (Oh! Note this also implies reciprocity: they too know we have the same instinct they do, and would do the same for us. And we know that they know ..., and they know that we know ... Nice to get all that for free.)

    That's an argument.

    On the other hand, why? Why should it need justification? I claim that this is an assumption of the moral theorist, despite the evidence that most people do not believe these actions require justification.
  • ToothyMaw
    610
    Ah, no, not really. I'm saying people behaving in this way do not experience themselves as needing a reason to do so, do not experience the need for decision at all.Srap Tasmaner

    That isn't an argument for anything. You are just explaining people's lack of thought given to whether or not they should procreate/save lives.

    On the one hand, I'm claiming that there is a way to construe our behavior as reasonable -- this is the claim that the person affected by our actions would want us to behave that way, because they have the same instinct we do.Srap Tasmaner

    But that doesn't make saving someone/procreating right; they might suffer intensely but still want to live, for instance. I think you underestimate this portion of the populace. And a person who procreates or saves a life cannot guarantee that the person given life will share their value system - what if they are a Schopenhauer? What if they don't have that instinct for self-preservation you seem to predicate to everyone? And what if there is no way of knowing if they will have that instinct, as is probably the case?

    On the other hand, why? Why should it need justification? I claim that this is an assumption of the moral theorist, despite the evidence that most people do not believe these actions require justification.Srap Tasmaner

    Then we aren't discussing ethics, because reason is central to any ethical theory - or it sucks.

    Sorry for the edits.
  • ToothyMaw
    610


    You genuinely seem to be ignorant of all of the good anti-natalist arguments.

    For instance, no great harm is at stake if one does not procreate; no one will be brought into the world that will potentially not want to live or suffer immensely. But if we procreate, we run the risk of bringing someone into the world who might wish that they had never existed but is unwilling to kill themselves because suicide is an unpleasant solution.

    Thus, even if you might bring into the world someone who would have acted the same way doesn't mean you aren't at great risk of causing a lot of suffering or producing a person who regrets being born and that wouldn't have acted the same way. There is no negative outcome if you don't procreate, but many possible negative outcomes if you do.

    Unless you consider not procreating immoral. Then you have the happy cows argument to contend with.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.1k
    That isn't an argument for anything.ToothyMaw

    No, it isn't. I know.

    a person who procreates or saves a life cannot guarantee that the person given life will share their value system - what if they are a Schopenhauer?ToothyMaw

    No one can guarantee anything. I claim it is perfectly reasonable to assume, without argument, that people want to live. And I claim that if you reflect upon humanity, then you do also have a reason in support of the premise. And if you think about it a little more, the fact that everyone seems to assume this about everyone else is only more reason to count on it.

    There will be occasions when you're wrong, or when the circumstances incline you to look for more.

    Then we aren't discussing ethics, because reason is central to any ethical theoryToothyMaw

    Then I'm certainly not offering an ethical theory. What difference does that make to our discussion? (For the record, I lean toward "moral sentiments" as a foundation, so this whole line of thought comes naturally to me.)

    You genuinely seem to be ignorant of all of the good anti-natalist arguments.ToothyMaw

    I am not ignorant of the arguments, though I may be ignorant of the good ones. I think the AN position is prima facie absurd. I've enjoyed trying to figure out how it works, but I thought I'd try something else for a change.

    I'm not directly addressing the arguments for AN here. There's always two or three places to do that, if you'd like. I do think it's reasonable to discuss why I don't think I have to address them.
  • ToothyMaw
    610
    No one can guarantee anything. I claim it is perfectly reasonable to assume, without argument, that people want to live. And I claim that if you reflect upon humanity, then you do also have a reason in support of the premise. And if you think about it a little more, the fact that everyone seems to assume this about everyone else is only more reason to count on it.Srap Tasmaner

    I don't assume this of everyone, and I myself do not possess this intuition that everyone, including myself, ought to want to live - regardless of how many do and make this assumption. Maybe I'm defective; but I know that if one suffers enough, one will end their life or wish that they had never existed. Most people are just lucky that they don't suffer enough.

    I'm not directly addressing the arguments for AN here. There's always two or three places to do that, if you'd like. I do think it's reasonable to discuss why I don't think I have to address them.Srap Tasmaner

    You made an argument in favor of an ethical theory, and didn't acknowledge my counter-argument. Why don't you have to address it? Did you even read my whole post?
  • khaled
    3.2k
    So what I said remains valid: typical anti-natalist reasoning doesn't have ridiculous side effects like "charity is wrong".ToothyMaw

    Yes it does. The most popular argument for example, the "it's an unconsented imposition that can be harmful so it's wrong" that I hear very often has the side effect that giving gifts is wrong unless you ask for permission first. It would also prevent you from, say, sending a kid to school.

    So far I haven't seen an AN argument that is consistent with the rest of the AN's beliefs.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.1k
    You made an argument in favor of an ethical theory, and didn't acknowledge my counter-argument. Why don't you have to address it?ToothyMaw

    Is a philosopher, then, like a troll guarding the bridge to parenthood? He pops up saying, "You may not pass until you have answered my riddle!"

    Most people just ignore the troll, and that's what I find interesting.

    "But the child might immediately fall into a pit of lava!" cries the troll, as people stream past him.

    "What lava pit? There's no lava pit around here." someone calls as they pass by. "Why would I give birth in a lava pit?" asks someone else.

    "Well," says the troll, "Life is kind of like a pit of lava."

    The crowd is unconvinced. "No it isn't." They keep crossing 'his' bridge.

    "But it might be!" responds the troll, sensing an opening. "You don't know for sure that it isn't."

    "If life were kind of like a lava pit, I would have kind of caught fire and kind of burned to death years ago," says someone, and gives the troll a little shove so he topples back under the bridge.

    It's a bit like the argument from error: because someone, sometime, in some specific circumstances, was 'deceived by their senses', everyone, always, and in all circumstances, must accept the possibility that they are, at that moment, in those circumstances, being deceived by their senses.

    "So you're saying that. because a straight stick looks bent when it's half in the water, that bent tree branch there might actually be straight?"

    "It might be. How could you know for sure that it isn't?"

    "But where's the water?"

    There are circumstances in which people feel that whether to have a child is a moral choice, and that they should weigh, as best they can, what they know against what they don't, what is good in life against what is bad, and so on. But does that entail that absent those circumstances, and absent any such concerns, everyone should always feel that it's a moral choice, and that what they ought to consider in making that choice is just the issues that the anti-natalist raises, and weighted in just the way he does? You agree with the AN, prove him wrong, or admit that you're irrational -- that's the trilemma you're offered. And almost no one believes it.

    I have enjoyed the intellectual challenge of trying to refute AN, but I never for a moment thought that if I couldn't come up with a refutation then my only remaining options were agreement and dogmatic disagreement. Mostly I think of it as a minor paradox: something that feels like it might be a moral principle leads quickly to a patently absurd conclusion. Either it's not a moral principle, or we oughtn't be trying to do ethics that way. You can learn from looking at paradoxes.

    It just seems plain to me that, curious though it is, AN is a free-floating theory that doesn't actually engage with the moral lives of people. When it tries to evoke moral sentiment in its audience, it's ridiculous. ("But the lava!") It's just a strange logical artifact. (I'm reminded of Ariel Rubinstein here, by any estimation one of the world's leading game theorists, who always says that game theory is just an interesting branch of math and has nothing to do with real life.)

    I doubt you're convinced, and that's probably because nothing here is exactly an argument either. It's a question of how you approach the doing of philosophy. People say all kinds of shit, and only some of it is taken seriously by other people. It might be worth thinking about why that is. Dewey somewhere says that most problems in philosophy aren't solved, they just no longer feel "live", compelling, or important to philosophers. AN is a solution to a problem only it believes in: it both asks and answers the question, is it immoral to have children? No one else asks, but AN keeps insisting it has an answer.
  • I like sushi
    2.7k
    AN is a solution to a problem only it believes in: it both asks and answers the question, is it immoral to have children? No one else asks, but AN keeps insisting it has an answer.Srap Tasmaner

    The question doesn't make any sense to me either. May as well ask if it is morally right that the sky appears to be blue. At its core it boils down to a self-contradiction or just an attitude that says because one, or more, persons suffer that it isn't a fair trade off. Life isn't 'fair' and it is silly to view existence as being 'fair' or 'unfair' - not that I have seen any AN admit this is basically where they are coming from (but it can be seen on the surface of some).

    All that said, asking the question (no matter how absurd) is a possible step towards understanding it to be absurd and that not all sentences with '?' at the end warrant a '?'.
  • ToothyMaw
    610
    Yes it does. The most popular argument for example, the "it's an unconsented imposition that can be harmful so it's wrong" that I hear very often has the side effect that giving gifts is wrong unless you ask for permission first. It would also prevent you from, say, sending a kid to school.khaled

    I am not an anti-natalist, but if I were, then I would uphold all of the implications of my beliefs.

    No to mention the harmful consequences of giving a crappy gift or sending a kid to school are significantly less than the wide range of horrible illnesses/conditions/disorders than can be inherited or developed throughout one's life; there are degrees of harm; having Huntington's disease is certainly worse than being bullied, for example.

    Not to mention, if we were all anti-natalists, there would be no children to send to school.

    Is a philosopher, then, like a troll guarding the bridge to parenthood? He pops up saying, "You may not pass until you have answered my riddle!"Srap Tasmaner

    Of course not. You seem to think I'm an idiot. I'm not telling people that they shouldn't reproduce because some random amateur philosopher on a forum says they shouldn't, I'm asking you to actually acknowledge a counter-argument. Which you won't. If we are discussing philosophy we should be dealing in arguments and reasons - not sentiments and semi-fallacies about instinct.

    "But the child might immediately fall into a pit of lava!" cries the troll, as people stream past him.

    "What lava pit? There's no lava pit around here." someone calls as they pass by. "Why would I give birth in a lava pit?" asks someone else.

    "Well," says the troll, "Life is kind of like a pit of lava."

    The crowd is unconvinced. "No it isn't." They keep crossing 'his' bridge.

    "But it might be!" responds the troll, sensing an opening. "You don't know for sure that it isn't."

    "If life were kind of like a lava pit, I would have kind of caught fire and kind of burned to death years ago," says someone, and gives the troll a little shove so he topples back under the bridge.

    It's a bit like the argument from error: because someone, sometime, in some specific circumstances, was 'deceived by their senses', everyone, always, and in all circumstances, must accept the possibility that they are, at that moment, in those circumstances, being deceived by their senses.
    Srap Tasmaner

    This is verging on disgusting - and you are yourself committing a fallacy: just because most people don't suffer enough to not want to live, to have not acted the same as the person who gave them life, does not mean that we shouldn't pay attention to this contingency. Just because people are ignorant of other's suffering doesn't mean that suffering on a level that would make someone not want to exist doesn't matter.

    All I would argue is that reasons should always be considered when procreating, and that people do consider reasons for procreating more than you think. Furthermore, I've given it a think, and your claim that people just procreate out of instinct is more than a little condescending.
  • ToothyMaw
    610
    not all sentences with '?' at the end warrant a '?'.I like sushi

    Savage.
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