• TheHedoMinimalist
    85

    I recently thought about a new objection to Benetar's conclusion that the absence of pleasure is not worse than the presence of pleasure if there is no one for whom the absence is a deprivation. It goes something like this:

    Imagine that scientists discover a new alien species on a distant planet that cannot experience nor appreciate or desire pleasure. We shall refer to these alien beings as "X Beings". X Beings cannot comprehend the concept of pleasure because they never experienced it and do not know what's so great about it. Explaining pleasure to them is like explaining the joys of music to a deaf person. Although they cannot experience pleasure, they can still experience deprivational suffering. For example, they can't derive pleasure from eating but they suffer from hunger if they don't eat. They also cannot derive pleasure from sex but being celibate will make them experience sexual frustration. They have to engage in recreational activities to avoid boredom but they derive no pleasure from them. They also can be alleviated from stress by drinking alcohol but the alcohol isn't pleasurable to them. Given the characteristics of X Beings, my argument goes as follows:

    P1: The presence of pleasure in human beings is an advantage over the absence of pleasure in X Beings.

    P2: X Beings cannot be said to be deprived of pleasure because they never had a desire or appreciation for it in the first place. In addition, experiencing pleasure provides no instrumental benefit to them by alleviating deprivational or inflictional suffering. Furthermore, the absence of pleasure is necessary for an X Being to maintain its identity as an X Being(that means if a rare mutation makes a supposed X Being experience pleasure, scientists would reclassify the being as some other species rather than an X Being with good scientific justification)

    C: Therefore, the presence of pleasure can be an advantage over the absence of pleasure even if there is no one for whom the absence is a deprivation.

    If you reject P1, you would have to accept the counterintuitive conclusion that the presence of pleasure in human beings is in no way better than the lack of pleasure and the lack of capacity to understand pleasure in X Beings.

    If you reject P2, then you would have to explain how the X Beings are being deprived of pleasure. One possible explanation is to distinguish between "feeling deprived" and "being deprived". The objection goes that although X Beings are not "feeling deprived" they are "being deprived" of pleasure nonetheless. That is because the X Beings exist and all beings that exist can be deprived of something good even if they don't appreciate it or desire it. This would demonstrate that there is a clear difference between Benetar's Scenario B and my Scenario involving X Beings; that difference being the existence of a being in my X Being Scenario but there's no being existing in Benetar's Scenario B. If this is your objection to P2, then you would have to explain why "being deprived" is bad even if there's no one "feeling deprived".
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1.2k
    Imagine that scientists discover a new alien species on a distant planet that cannot experience nor appreciate or desire pleasure. We shall refer to these alien beings as "X Beings". X Beings cannot comprehend the concept of pleasure because they never experienced it and do not know what's so great about it. Explaining pleasure to them is like explaining the joys of music to a deaf person. Although they cannot experience pleasure, they can still experience deprivational suffering. For example, they can't derive pleasure from eating but they suffer from hunger if they don't eat. They also cannot derive pleasure from sex but being celibate will make them experience sexual frustration. They have to engage in recreational activities to avoid boredom but they derive no pleasure from them. They also can be alleviated from stress by drinking alcohol but the alcohol isn't pleasurable to them. Given the characteristics of X Beings, my argument goes as follows:

    P1: The presence of pleasure in human beings is an advantage over the absence of pleasure in X Beings.

    P2: X Beings cannot be said to be deprived of pleasure because they never had a desire or appreciation for it in the first place. In addition, experiencing pleasure provides no instrumental benefit to them by alleviating deprivational or inflictional suffering. Furthermore, the absence of pleasure is necessary for an X Being to maintain its identity as an X Being(that means if a rare mutation makes a supposed X Being experience pleasure, scientists would reclassify the being as some other species rather than an X Being with good scientific justification)

    C: Therefore, the presence of pleasure can be an advantage over the absence of pleasure even if there is no one for whom the absence is a deprivation.

    If you reject P1, you would have to accept the counterintuitive conclusion that the presence of pleasure in human beings is in no way better than the lack of pleasure and the lack of capacity to understand pleasure in X Beings.

    If you reject P2, then you would have to explain how the X Beings are being deprived of pleasure. One possible explanation is to distinguish between "feeling deprived" and "being deprived". The objection goes that although X Beings are not "feeling deprived" they are "being deprived" of pleasure nonetheless. That is because the X Beings exist and all beings that exist can be deprived of something good even if they don't appreciate it or desire it. This would demonstrate that there is a clear difference between Benetar's Scenario B and my Scenario involving X Beings; that difference being the existence of a being in my X Being Scenario but there's no being existing in Benetar's Scenario B. If this is your objection to P2, then you would have to explain why "being deprived" is bad even if there's no one "feeling deprived".
    TheHedoMinimalist

    The point of living shouldn't be to maximize one's own pleasure. It would be infinitely better to avoid inflicting unnecessary harm to others if maximizing their pleasure is somehow beyond one's control. One should not think that maximizing pleasure for the self is the point of life when humanity is inherently social. In no possible world could humans not be social beings without ceasing to be human. So, maximizing pleasure for the self is base and goes against humanity's need for community.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    85
    In contrast to this, we think that there is no
    duty to bring happy people into existence because while their pleasure would be good for them, its absence would not be bad for them
    (given that there would be nobody who would be deprived of it).
    schopenhauer1

    I can offer 3 alternative explanations for that asymmetry:
    1. We have no duty to create happy people because it requires too much of a sacrifice to raise a happy child. It would not be reasonable to expect everyone to raise a happy child.
    2. Any positive duty can be easily avoided by choosing to perform a different positive duty instead, thereby justifying the violation of duty. For example, instead of creating a happy person, I could make an already existent miserable person happy. It's not clear why the duty to procreate should be privileged over the near infinite amount of other positive duties we could perform instead.
    3. Humans usually experience guilt and shame from harming people more strongly than pride for helping people. Thereby creating a bias towards wanting to avoid harming people while being relatively unmotivated to benefit them. The existence of this psychological bias does not mean that creating benefit cannot justify creating harm.

    Whereas it is strange (if not incoherent) to give
    as a reason for having a child that the child one has will thereby be
    benefited,²⁷ it is not strange to cite a potential child’s interests as
    a basis for avoiding bringing a child into existence.
    schopenhauer1

    I can also offer 2 alternative explanations for that asymmetry:
    1. You don't have a duty to create a happy person but you do have a duty not to create an unhappy one.(Note that you don't have to accept Benetar's argument to explain this asymmetry)
    2. Humans usually experience guilt and shame from harming people more strongly than pride for helping people. Thereby creating a bias towards wanting to avoid harming people while being relatively unmotivated to benefit them. The existence of this psychological bias does not mean that creating benefit cannot justify creating harm.

    However, only
    bringing people into existence can be regretted for the sake of
    the person whose existence was contingent on our decision. This
    is not because those who are not brought into existence are
    indeterminate. Instead it is because they never exist. We can
    regret, for the sake of an indeterminate but existent person that a
    benefit was not bestowed on him or her, but we cannot regret, for
    the sake of somebody who never exists and thus cannot thereby be
    deprived, a good that this never existent person never experiences.
    schopenhauer1

    Once again, I can offer at least 2 alternative explanation for that asymmetry:
    1. We can't regret for someone if we aren't aware of that person's existence. For example, I can't regret the suffering of a person I have never thought about because there is no conceptual manifestation of that person in my mind.
    2. There's simply no person to regret if you don't create any, but our inability to regret a potential child not being brought into existence does not imply that there's nothing to regret. Rather, our psychology is flawed to have a hard time understanding the regret.

    Similarly, nobody really mourns for those who
    do not exist on Mars, feeling sorry for potential such beings that
    they cannot enjoy life.²⁸ Yet, if we knew that there were sentient
    life on Mars but that Martians were suffering, we would regret this
    for them.
    — Benatar p 32-35

    This asymmetry could be explained with similar explanations as the last one.

    1. We can't morn for a hypothetical alien if we aren't aware of that alien's hypothetical existence. For example, I can't morn for the suffering of a Martian I have never thought about because there is no conceptual manifestation of that Martian in my mind.
    2. There's simply no alien to morn about if there aren't any that existed, but our inability to morn for a hypothetical alien not existing does not imply that there's nothing to morn about . Rather, our psychology is flawed to have a hard time understanding why the absence of Martians is mornworthy.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k


    For one, there is no such thing as an "intrinsic good."

    "The capacity for quick recovery, although a good for S, is not a real advantage over H." There is no such thing as a "real advantage" in a value judgment context.

    "It is obvious that it is better to be Healthy than to be Sick." No it isn't . It's obvious that anyone who says these things--"intrinsic, " "real," etc. , when we're talking about axiology doesn't understand what value judgments are.

    "It is also good that pains are avoided through non-existence." Once again, anything is always good only to someone. So if it's good that pain is avoided by not existing, that's only good to the particular existent individuals who happen to feel that's good.

    Likewise if it's bad that pleasure isn't obtaining that could obtain if more people existed, that's only bad to particular existent individuals who happen to feel that's bad.

    Re the stuff about the diagrams, matrices, etc. I can't see any of that so it's difficult to comment on it.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k


    You want me to be asserting some broadly abstract principle that I'm doing ethics by, so that it would be applicable to a bunch of different scenarios. That's not how I do ethics, though. And I think it's a bad idea to do ethics that way. It's a type of theory-worship that almost always leads to things that I consider absurdities (such as antinatalism).
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k
    However, only
    bringing people into existence can be regretted for the sake of
    the person whose existence was contingent on our decision. This
    is not because those who are not brought into existence are
    indeterminate. Instead it is because they never exist. We can
    regret, for the sake of an indeterminate but existent person that a
    benefit was not bestowed on him or her, but we cannot regret, for
    the sake of somebody who never exists and thus cannot thereby be
    deprived, a good that this never existent person never experiences.
    — Benatar p 32-35

    This makes sense only to the extent that it's a matter of whether we're talking about a particular person or not.

    The problem with it is that you don't have to be talking about a particular person. You can regret that indeterminate people were never made to exist so that they could enjoy particular things.

    So in both of those cases, you have regrets about others, it's just that they're indeterminate, potential others in one case, but determinate, actual others in the other case.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.2k
    I think you can logically challenge a person reasons for having a child or lack of reasons.

    Unless you believe no one needs to ever justify having a child and can have a child for incoherent, illogical reasons.

    Sometimes the reasons people give for having a child are very disturbing. I think most people believe that not everyone should have children such as abusive people, drug addicts, pedophiles and such.

    If you can accept that some people shouldn't procreate then it is not far to go to scrutinize everyone's parenting suitability.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k
    I wouldn't at all want a society wherein people are required to "justify having a child," and then other people judge their reasons.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.7k
    P1: The presence of pleasure in human beings is an advantage over the absence of pleasure in X Beings.TheHedoMinimalist

    The difference being that we are not talking about X beings that already exist, but no being at all. It can be regrettable for X beings that they don't feel pleasure, because they exist and they are being deprived of something. However, even this is a moot point in your scenario as it seems like an impossibility they can derive pleasure in the first place, so it is not even regrettable, just an oddity of nature that happens.

    Rather, Benatar's scenario is simply that preventing pleasure is not bad, if no actual person is deprived of it. The potential kids you or I won't have are not suffering from prevention of pleasure. The only scenario where someone would suffer from prevention of pleasure, is one where an actual person existed who was prevented (i.e. a person-dependent scenario). That is his main idea. However, preventing harmful experiences don't need to be person-dependent. That someone could have existed that would have suffered but was prevented from doing so is good, independent of whether an actual person can be identified to have benefited from this.

    To me, the Martian argument is his most revealing of his negative utilitarianism. It seems his negative utilitarianism comes from the intuition that for a hypothetical person to not experience pleasure, is not something we really regret.. (If we do it would be more post-facto in a philosophy forum like this simply to prove others wrong..in other words it would be intellectually falsifying how we really feel to make point). However, it does seem that we intuitively are indignant at the idea that someone (who does not exist but has a potential to) can be born into great suffering.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.2k
    I wouldn't at all want a society wherein people are required to "justify having a child," and then other people judge their reasons.Terrapin Station

    Why not?

    Do you think pedophiles should be allowed to have children. Drug users and Alcoholics?

    I can give a common personal example here. As Christians my parents believe that all humans are corrupt through Adam and Eve and basically worthless and deserving of hell. So they had six children that the had a default low opinion and exposed them to the threat of eternal damnation.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k
    Rather, Benatar's scenario is simply that preventing pleasure is not bad, if no actual person is deprived of it.schopenhauer1

    Suggesting that he feels that "Preventing pleasure is only bad if someone (actual) is being deprived of pleasure."

    Someone else might feel, "The more pleasure there is in the world the better. The less pleasure there is in the world the worse it is--purely based on how much pleasure there is in the world. Therefore, we should act to have as much pleasure in the world as possible."
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k
    Why not?Andrew4Handel

    Because, for one, I don't like the idea of people judging other people in general, especially not where those judgments constrain what other people can and can't choose to do. In that regard I'm basically a minarchist libertarian (the idea of minarchism is "as close as we can get to anarchy without people taking even more control via force") (Overall, politically, I'm not longer just a libertarian, but when it comes to moral issues like this, I am.)

    I don't know if you're familiar with the term "moralizing"--it's a specific idea typically with a negative connotation, but I'm extremely anti-moralizing.

    Do you think pedophiles should be allowed to have children. Drug users and Alcoholics?Andrew4Handel

    Yes.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.2k
    I could probably come up with a thousand arguments against having children or reasons not to, yet I can't think of a compelling reason why someone should.

    Among the basic reasons against having a child famine, poverty, pollution over population, physical and mental illness, stress, work, war, the weapons industry including the nuclear threat, exploitation, death, possible pointlessness and meaninglessness, survival of the fittest, consent issues,inequality, injustice, religious doctrine (see my previous post).

    Each issue has many layers. For example exploitation might be mutually beneficial however there are very many different cases and structural issues. In order to give yourself and your child what they want it relies on other people having children and working on behalf of your goals.

    So for example if you want your child to see a Doctor and receive medicine then someone else has to have a child and that child has to train to be a doctor. It is not just a case of having a child in a bubble of independence but you implicitly have to demand other people procreate and work to create the society you want.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.2k


    There was a case in America where a couple had a child with the explicit intention of sexual abusing it. They received very long prisons terms and I believe the child was taken into care however what if the child had not been rescued?

    This is the most explicit case of a parent planning to torture a child and I cannot see how anyone could or should have the right to do this.

    I think having a child to mend a relationship is also irresponsible and not in the child's interest.

    I am interested in your response to my example of people who believe in the fallen nature and hell doctrines.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k


    There are a number of issues here. First, I'd never have planning or even conspiring or contracting or ordering someone to do something as a crime. This includes planning to commit acts of terrorism, hiring a hit man, a political leader ordering underlings to commit murder, etc.

    People can do things to other people, including children, that would be illegal if I were king--such as torturing them (which would fall under a general nonconsenual battery prohibition), but they'd have to actually be doing those things for it to be an issue.

    "What's in someone's interest" is a subjective issue. Each person ultimately decides what's in their interest for themselves. There are no facts that such and such is in someone's interest and something else is not.

    Re your personal example re "fallen nature" etc., morally I'm indifferent to that. I'm not sure what your moral view would be on it. People have all different sorts of views. They're going to believe some things that you think are false. That's the case when it comes to family members, too.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.7k

    But Benatar takes into account outcomes. What is the outcome of pleasure being prevented (and no one there to be deprived of it?). What is the outcome of preventing suffering (even if there is no one there to be deprived of it?). Moral intuition might say, the "regrettable" loss of pleasure, for something that did not even exist to know of its deprivation is trivially sad, where the prevention of suffering is non-trivially good. You should also understand that Benatar seems to split morality into two modalities- lives worth continuing and lives worth starting. Here is how he puts it:

    The expression ‘a life worth living’ is ambiguous between ‘a life
    worth continuing’—let us call this the present-life sense—and ‘a life
    worth starting’—let us call this the future-life sense.¹² ‘A life worth
    continuing’, like ‘a life not worth continuing’, are judgements
    one can make about an already existent person. ‘A life worth
    starting’, like ‘a life not worth starting’, are judgements one can
    make about a potential but non-existent being. Now the problem
    is that a number of people have employed the present-life sense
    and applied it to future-life cases,¹³ which are quite different. When
    they distinguish between impairments that make a life not worth
    living and impairments that, though severe, are not so bad as to
    make life not worth living, they are making the judgements in
    the present-life cases. Those lives not worth living are those that
    would not be worth continuing. Similarly, those lives worth living
    are those that are worth continuing. But the problem is that these
    notions are then applied to future-life cases.¹⁴ In this way, we are
    led to make judgements about future-life cases by the standards of
    present-life cases.
    However, quite different standards apply in the two kinds of
    case. The judgement that an impairment is so bad that it makes life
    not worth continuing is usually made at a much higher threshold
    than the judgement that an impairment is sufficiently bad to make
    life not worth beginning. That is to say, if a life is not worth
    continuing, a fortiori it is not worth beginning. It does not follow,
    however, that if a life is worth continuing it is worth beginning or
    that if it is not worth beginning it would not be worth continuing.
    For instance, while most people think that living life without a limb
    does not make life so bad that it is worth ending, most (of the
    same) people also think that it is better not to bring into existence
    somebody who will lack a limb. We require stronger justification
    for ending a life than for not starting one.¹⁵
    We are now in a position to understand how it might be preferable
    not to begin a life worth living.
    — Benatar p 22-24
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k


    Were you addressing this comment above:

    Someone else might feel, "The more pleasure there is in the world the better. The less pleasure there is in the world the worse it is--purely based on how much pleasure there is in the world. Therefore, we should act to have as much pleasure in the world as possible."Terrapin Station

    That has nothing to do with the idea of anyone being deprived of anything.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.7k
    That has nothing to do with the idea of anyone being deprived of anything.Terrapin Station

    I'm assuming you were talking about the idea of antinatalism and that you are anti-anatinatalism because birth brings more experiences of pleasure and we should maximize this apparently. That seems to be your stance. Hence, I point to Benatar's idea that the preventing of pleasure is not bad if there is no one there to be deprived. Conversely, there is no obligation to bring about pleasure if no one exists in the first place. There does seem to be an obligation to prevent suffering though.

    Another note I'd like to make is that having people so that they can suffer in some edifying way that is deemed appropriate by the parent seems also off to me. No one who doesn't already exist, needs to be born to experience some society-approved form of suffering. And THIS is why I pointed to Benatar's distinction between life worth continuing vs. a life worth starting. Sure, if you already exist and have to endure certain forms of suffering to get to a "better place" mentally/socially/physically fine, but to CREATE a situation so that someone has to go through this, is suspect to me. There is too much collateral damage, too much assumptions of the existent on what the new person needs, wants, etc. In other words, there is a lot of arrogance in this idea of making people go through the gauntlet of life because that is just something someone wants to see carried out. Damn Nietzsche, damn the idea that people have to be born over and over to suffer through existence for its own sake! It is middle-class respectable savagery masquerading as pragmatic gentleman's morality.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k
    I'm assuming you were talking about the idea of antinatalism and that you are anti-anatinatalism because birth brings more experiences of pleasure and we should maximize this apparentlyschopenhauer1

    I wasn't giving my view there, just a possible view. The possible view, again, is this:

    Someone else might feel, "The more pleasure there is in the world the better. The less pleasure there is in the world the worse it is--purely based on how much pleasure there is in the world. Therefore, we should act to have as much pleasure in the world as possible."

    Again, this is not about deprivation in any manner, and it's not even about any particular people. It's just about the total amount of pleasurable experiences, seen rather abstractly.

    A person with the view above might think, "It's better for there to be 100 people each with 10 pleasurable experiences in their lives and ten thousand painful experiences than for there to be 10 people each with 75 pleasurable experiences and nine thousand painful experiences, simply because 1,000 is more than 750."
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1.2k
    Sure, if you already exist and have to endure certain forms of suffering to get to a "better place" mentally/socially/physically fine, but to CREATE a situation so that someone has to go through this, is suspect to me.schopenhauer1

    So when do we start banning childbirth per this view? Or have I misrepresented your stance?
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.2k


    I'm not talking about the issue of criminality I am just examining the reasons people have for having children and what the characteristics of these reasons are.

    Your positions amounts to anarchy if you don't think people need to justify their actions.

    On the theological issue I am referring to my actual parents beliefs prior to and during having children and not whether I believe them.

    I think it is part insane and part terrible to create children you think of as broken and to threaten them with hell, expose them to the hell doctrine and expose them to the hell they claim to believe in.

    I cannot see a commitment to child welfare in your stance.

    It is pragmatic to arrest people that plan to harm others or prevent harm rather than let the plan go to fruition which creates victims.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.2k
    (...)because birth brings more experiences of pleasure and we should maximize this apparently.schopenhauer1

    I have found that people who claim life is so desirable because of pleasure do not advocate forcing people to have children to increase levels of pleasure rather it seems like an ad hoc justification.

    I don't think pain and pleasure can be strictly measured or accumulated in a utilitarian calculation. But I find it troubling that people are willing to coexist with lots of other peoples suffering
    . And I don't think things like the Holocaust are a statistic to be manipulated but rather a qualitative experience to be reflected on phenomenology..
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    85
    e difference being that we are not talking about X beings that already exist, but no being at all. It can be regrettable for X beings that they don't feel pleasure, because they exist and they are being deprived of something. However, even this is a moot point in your scenario as it seems like an impossibility they can derive pleasure in the first place, so it is not even regrettable, just an oddity of nature that happens.schopenhauer1

    Fair enough, I suppose we can agree to disagree at this point. To me rejecting P1 of my argument is more counterintuitive than rejecting what I will call Benetar's Regret Worthiness Requirement. I think the absence of pleasure for X Beings is bad even if it is not regretful. Feel free to provide me with a creative objection if you can come up with one though. I would be interested in knowing why I should accept the Regret Worthiness Requirement.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k


    If people need to have certain beliefs to have kids, say, and they need to justify a bunch of stuff they want to do in order to be allowed to do it, who gets to decide what the right beliefs and justifications are, and why do they get to decide?
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.2k


    You don't believe in experts?

    You would allow a random person to do heart surgery on you?
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k
    You don't believe in experts?Andrew4Handel

    Not when it comes to value judgments, including what people should and shouldn't be allowed to do.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.7k

    Your scenario about X beings is that they don't feel pleasure. Well, this follows under Benatar's idea that if something already exists, then it is best that they can maximize pleasure. Hence, these X beings would be better off with pleasure, even if they can't. For a being that does not exist, but just a potential, the situation changes. There is no one actually existing that would be better off. In fact, to take it to its furthest reach, if no pleasure ever existed for anyone in the universe, it would not be bad (though it would not necessarily be good either, but neutral). However, that a scenario can occur where someone could have incurred suffering, but was prevented from doing so, is always good. Thus, your thought experiment falls right into Benatar's asymmetry.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.2k
    What about experts in child welfare and child psychology?

    Having a child is doing something to someone else and it is not a case of personal freedom. Bad parenting effects someone else, the child potential for a lifetime.

    We have thousands of laws saying what people can and can't do so you must really object to everything about society or is it only regulating reproduction you object to?

    It is already the case that thousands of unfit parents have there children taken into care so why wait to make this judgement of unfitness until after a new victim has been created?
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    85

    It appears as though you are rejecting P2 of my argument by stating that X Beings are deprived of pleasure even though they don't feel as though they are deprived. I think there are some potentially worse implications that come with the claim that any being is deprived of any good thing it cannot acquire(since X beings cannot acquire pleasure, the lack of acquisitions counts as deprivation on your view.). I would like to point out that there appears to be a hidden premise in Benetar's argument that I never heard mentioned(although Benetar seems to believe in that hidden premise, especially since he thinks absence of knowledge is bad for an existent being but not a potential being that will never exist.). That hidden premise is that the absence of pleasure for existing beings is worse than the absence of pleasure for potential beings that are never born. We could derive this hidden premise as follows:

    P1: The absence of pleasure for existing beings is worse than the presence of pleasure for existing beings.

    P2: The absence of pleasure for potential beings is not worse than the presence of pleasure in existing beings.

    C: Therefore, the absence of pleasure for potential beings is better than the absence of pleasure for existing beings.

    This argument could be mathematically expressed as follows:

    P1: A < B

    P2: C = B

    C: Therefore, C > A

    There are 2 major counterintuitive implications of that hidden premise:

    1. It means that the harm of coming into existence extends far beyond the presence of bad things. The infinite deprivation of good things in life is also an infinite harm relative to non-existence. For example, there is an infinite amount of pleasure that I am deprived of(because I cannot experience an eternal orgasm, for example) and that is bad only because I am a being who is deprived of that pleasure. This seems highly counterintuitive to me.

    2. It means that bringing a being into existence that can be deprived of some good things in life but is inflicted with no bad things in life would still be harmful. That is because the deprivation of pleasure is bad compared to the case of nonexistence where there's no one deprived and therefore no one harmed by the absence of pleasure. To me, this is even more counterintuitive than thinking that X beings are not worse off than humans by not being able to experience pleasure. It implies that bringing a child into existence is bad even if that child experiences nothing bad but simply doesn't have as many good things in life as she could have.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k


    In my view there can't be "value experts," in the sense of particular moral and aesthetic judgments, because there are no moral or aesthetic facts of judgment/value to be an expert about.

    Re laws, mores and the like, I've mentioned this before, so apologies to people who have read it already (and I'm not sure that I didn't even mention it in this thread), but politically I'm a very idiosyncratic sort of "libertarian socialist." Without getting into a big thing about that, on the libertarian side, with respect to moral or general behavioral enforcement, say, I'm a minarchist libertarian. Minarchists are folks who lean towards anarchy, but who don't believe that anarchy is possible, so the goal is a minimal set of restrictions with the idea being to avoid even more restrictions arising.

    In practice, we tend to endorse the typical libertarian triumvirate of a prohibition against the initiation of nonconsensual "physical" damage to others (where in my case I introduce the "physical" qualification and a minimal damage qualification), contractual fraud (where I limit that to documentable, formal contracts), and property crimes (where again I have a minimal damage requirement).

    Aside from that, most minarchists are also still in favor of a government sourced police-force, court system, etc.

    Re that sort of stuff, I'd actually have a government-sourced economy/means of production (and service etc.) overall, as that's the socialist part of the equation for me, but It's the socialist part where I don't resemble any other socialist I've ever heard of, and my socialist aspects would run parallel with a minarchist libertarian approach otherwise.

    Could people have their kids taken away in my system? Sure. But pretty much only if they're initiating nonconsensual physical damage towards their kids per what my restriction would be.
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