Comments

  • Willy Wonka's Forced Game
    @khaled I thought your responses for this were pretty convincing, but how would you respond with the interesting objection that enabling the capacity for striving or desire is unethical itself? Someone gave me this intuition pump:

    Most people would probably agree that if I made someone addicted to a drug like heroin deliberately and then locked them in a basement room without heroin, leaving them to experience the suffering of withdrawal, squirming in deprivation, that would be unethical, I’m making them suffer by creating an addiction and leaving them to starve, I should have just not done that. Now let’s say hypothetically I had desire serum – not heroin, it’s just liquid that contains any possible random desire one could think of. Some trivial, like the desire to eat spaghetti with tomato sauce, some unrealistic, like the desire to transform into a different animal or travel back into the past, some that would require hurting others in order to fulfill, like the desire to rape and torture for gratification. I take that stuff and inject it into people in their sleep without knowing their life circumstances, gambling with how this will affect them in the future. Perhaps they wake up the next day craving a certain type of meal, perhaps they will crave to live in a different country, perhaps they will crave to become someone they are not or travel into the future, perhaps they will crave to rape a kitten with a sharp object – I don’t know.

    Would that be ethical? I think the answer is no.
    And that in a sense sums up why procreation is wrong. A conscious lifeform is essentially a desire machine – a pleasure addict. We have to chase pleasure/relief, or we are subjected to the alternative of suffering/harm, having a child is creating a slave to pleasure.

    Eat or hunger. Drink or thirst. Socialize or get lonely. Sleep or fatigue. Breathe or suffocate. So on and so forth. Pleasure or suffering. More pleasure of satiation, less suffering of hunger. More suffering of hunger, less pleasure of satiation.

    It’s fair to say that before procreating, you also don’t know how this will turn out for the victim.
    Perhaps they will largely experience trivial desires, perhaps unrealistic to fulfill ones, perhaps those that require harming someone else, so you are creating an addict to pleasure without guarantee of them always being able to get their fix, and if they don’t get it, they suffer, they are harmed, that’s how sentient life works. No certainty how tormenting the desires will be. No certainty how long lasting the fulfillment of those desires will be. No guarantee the desires can even realistically be fulfilled. No guarantee that the desires won’t require the victim to harm someone else to fulfill.
    So it’s very similar to the hypothetical of desire liquid, you’re creating an addict with no guarantee that they’ll be able to get their pleasure fix to prevent them from suffering. You force a pleasure addict into an existence where there is no guarantee that they’ll be able to obtain whichever pleasure is needed to prevent painful withdrawal symptoms. Some desires might be easy to fulfill, like the desire to eat a certain meal, some are just basic needs/wants/desires.

    It’s already rather high maintenance though and not every pleasure addict/desire machine gets what they need to be properly satiated. So while you aren’t forcibly making someone addicted to heroin and then locking them in your basement room without any heroin, you are risking creating that scenario of experiencing intense deprivation, you create the pleasure addiction with no guarantee of absolute fairness, where the victim is always guaranteed to get whatever they need to avoid suffering. You create someone with a need for movement, they desire to move their limbs, an addiction we usually just take for granted to be satiated at all times, and then they get hit by a car and are paralyzed for the rest of their life. But even if one desire machine/pleasure addict always obtained their pleasure fix just in time, fulfilled every desire just in time before the suffering got out of hand, without harming anyone else in the process, they still wouldn’t miss their life if you never created them, so I still don’t think they justify all the deprived, suffering addicts.

    Child A is experiencing a desire for christmas gifts and is happy upon receiving gifts on christmas, child B is also tormented by such a desire and dies of leukemia before christmas, not getting their wish of a perfect christmas fulfilled.

    Ibelieve it’s within reason for me to say that if we didn’t risk creating either of these children by stopping reproduction, child A would not be trapped in some kind of pre-birth torture chamber, horribly tormented over their lack of christmas gifts, crying their eyes out over no gifts. So why create child B? Child A would not miss happiness if they didn’t exist, so don’t risk child B.
    The would-be happy ones would not miss their happiness if they didn’t exist, their addiction would not exist, so there’d be no unresolved cravings anywhere else if you simply abstain from creating the cravings in the first place, so why risk creating unhappy ones in the process? No matter how great your life supposedly is, it not existing would have not hurt you in the least.


    Overall I think your Careful Natalism idea aligns with my intuitions but there are things like this where I'm stumped
  • Willy Wonka's Forced Game
    But why is the pessimistic view of everything automatically assumed to be more “honest” and the optimists are full of shit with their heads stuck in the clouds? There are equally good arguments to be optimistic, or at the very least affirm one’s life. It’s definitely a popular idea but I don’t buy the notion that things like desire and happiness are inherently lacking in nature.
  • All things wrong with antinatalism
    I think the idea is that antinatalism is pointless because preventing people from suffering doesn’t benefit anyone. I’m not antinatalist but I think this is wrong, ANs think what’s good is that a bad state of affairs was prevented from happening (another human brought into 5he world) which is part of the asymmetry
  • All things wrong with antinatalism
    I think the idea is that the “benefit” is there was no bad state of affairs that occurred, which is part of the asymmetry. IE it’s good a bad thing didn’t happen or was prevented. Personally I don’t buy this
  • All things wrong with antinatalism
    yes but I think it’s important to realize that most antinatalists aren’t trying to save the unborn, they’re just trying to prevent a future state of affairs they think will be bad.
  • All things wrong with antinatalism



    The problem with this is that it is almost an inevitability that some people will have kids. There will be a next generation which will have to live in those conditions. As such it is only necessary for you to think of yourself as an above average parent and your children will be more likely to help that next generation that they will to worsen it. Given that, even in these difficult times, most people still prefer to live than not, the harms you imagine your future child will have to suffer in order to bring about this benefit are relatively small (relative to the benefit, that is).

    I agree with this, but how do we draw the line at who is able to parent? Can they only parent if they have good reason to believe their children will only be harm reducers?
  • All things wrong with antinatalism
    I don’t see why there’s no such thing as a non existent future person. Sure they actually don’t exist, but we do stuff for people who don’t exist all the time. IE save the planet for future generations and all that. Not really sure what the issue here is
  • All things wrong with antinatalism
    I have always found it fascinating how our intuitions for these exercises can change drastically even when hypothetical scenarios might seem analogous. For example, if one's mantra is "always reduce suffering" it seems intuitively correct to give birth to someone who will lead a lousy life but you know for certain they will cure 10 different types of cancer. Alternatively, it seems completely wrong to force someone to be a lifeguard for 40 years even though they'll save thousands of lives. You and Khaled's idea of "Careful Natalism" sounds pretty appealing in my view, but Schop1 brought up some interesting intuition pumps I'd like to see it deal with.
  • All things wrong with antinatalism
    Sorry I felt like your explanations in the intro were a bit confusing, so is your belief that suffering is not sufficiently caused by being alive? If so, it reminds me of some Stoic beliefs, IE we suffer more in our minds than we really do in our bodies.
  • All things wrong with antinatalism
    @Isaac
    @Benkei
    @khaled
    I haven't read the whole debate, but I think the fundamental disagreements here are over what choices would be unreasonable and what choices would be reasonable to decide on behalf of another. For the philosophical pessimist, they have good reasons to believe it will never be reasonable (Like Schop1s many posts on structural suffering etc). Like any argument I think thats perfectly fine, but if other people also have collectively good reasons to believe in optimism and that lives are worth starting and living, why is their decision on behalf of someone else unreasonable? It's true it seems wrong to force someone to be a lifeguard for the rest of their lives because of the greater good, but if we lived in a world where everyone would enjoy or wouldn't mind such an imposition, it wouldn't be an unreasonable decision. This is how I view birth. I actually agree that given climate chaos, the scourge of neoliberal capitalism, and the rise of authoritarian governments that having kids is a decision on behalf of someone else that will be unreasonable in the near future. But this still doesn't get us Hard Antinatalism, only "don't have kids under predatory capitalism and severe climate breakdown" which seems to be popular given how lots of people aren't having kids. If the world didn't have to deal with these things, I think it would be an extremely reasonable decision on behalf of another. The disagreement will then be that putting people into situations of challenge where they didn't need to is wrong , but I just can't intuitively accept this.
  • All things wrong with antinatalism
    I actually agree with most of your points here against libertarian ethics, but now exactly is the way out (if someone TRULY hates life) a minor inconvenience? Last I heard suicide is incredibly difficult to do
  • Guest Speaker: David Pearce - Member Discussion Thread
    yeah I actually recall (though I might be wrong) that Benatar himself admits his asymmetry ALONE doesn’t lead to antinatalism, that’s why he adds that most people have bad lives and have optimism biases and all that stuff to make the arguments stronger. Never bought any of that either. Hell, there’s even been academic work done that even if we do accept some kind of asymmetry having kids can still be permissible.

    Now, when you talk about Impositions, isn’t having children a bad imposition because it’s too long? Some people can live to a 100 or more
  • Guest Speaker: David Pearce - Member Discussion Thread
    perhaps another issue might be that the asymmetry seems (at least to me) to extend to infinity. As I’m sitting here typing, I can list off a million potential harmful states of affairs that aren’t happening, and saying “it’s a good thing I’m not being murdered, raped, or my house is currently on fire.” To me that sounds bizarre, and I don’t think any of that is “good.” However, I don’t think it’s totally ridiculous if someone accepted this. It does make sense, just doesn’t seem appealing
  • Guest Speaker: David Pearce - Member Discussion Thread


    “If you start railing about the aggregate "good" for the "whole" had by having your kid (which is really presumptuous by the way), then that would indeed be violating the other rule about dignity as you are looking at outcomes other than the person the decision is being made for. That indeed is also like the kidnapping scenario. The lifeguard would be creating the greatest amounts of good, but you are overlooking the lifeguard himself (dignity violated) for your "cause" of the "greatest good".

    I am quite interested in how you would respond to this. I think your system is appealing and close to how I think, but I wanted to wait and see what others thought of this
  • Credibility and Minutia
    aw yeah, then agreed. I remember reading that when polio was big and scary, they had to get Elvis on TV and take a vaccine to prove to everyone it was safe. Maybe if some high profile Hollywood types started telling everyone at the Academy Awards to be antinatalist it would gain considerable traction.
  • Credibility and Minutia
    Got it, but some questions first: Do you think it's bad that we have this bias (if it's real) ? I personally don't see why it would be bad if someone who's been around the block for years says "this is how you do it" compared to someone who's been working for a month. Another thing, are you trying to say others perceive antinatalists as being lazy or lacking? I mean it's pretty darn hopeless that's for sure, but lazy? Nah, not necessarily
  • Credibility and Minutia
    Sure, I think so. But maybe I might not be fully grasping what you're getting at...Are you asking that does this knowledge I have of everything onit's own make any position more credible, or is it only credible if one has all this knowledge of stuff and understands how to apply it? If you have experience with patents, consumer products, all of which have positively impacted industry, then maybe you could use that experience to make anti-natalism marketable or make it so that your knowledge with trades, computer coding, and electronic manufacturing can lead to the development of machines that can simply replace children so parents are satisfied and nobody has to be born (seems impossible to me, but you never know I guess)
  • Credibility and Minutia
    I actually think one should have practical know-how, and my reasoning is that I think it poses a problem in the realm of public perception. For example, let's say Joe is a professor of philosophy but he knows absolutely jack sh*it about how the pipes under his house get his water or something like that. He just hands money to a repairman when things go awry and away he goes back to working on his new book. Joe's neighbours might associate him with the stereotype of the academic who can write theory all day but doesn't know anything remotely practical. Joe is afraid to get his hands dirty, and he's just a sissy liberal arts major or what have you. This is a little different, but I think another example is Western self-help commodifications of Buddhism, Taoism, Stoicism, or whatever. All talk that was carefully researched by someone who knows what they're doing, but no show on how to actually do anything. Praxis and experience greatly increase a person's credibility, because I can know Kant from A-Z but where does that really get me?
  • Arguments for having Children
    correction: looks like Pearce himself is active on here. I think his AMA is on going
  • Arguments for having Children
    Yeah exactly, we just don't know. I do know there has been talk of inviting transhumanist David Pearce here. He is a non academic philosopher, but he's written quite a bit on negative utilitarianism (basically hedonic based antinatalism) and a lot of what he says has to do with nature and how ugly it is. There's a lot of sciency talk about the neurology of animals, insects, fish, and other creatures, how they perceive suffering, and what this means for negative aggregate ethics. If you asked Pearce, it seems he really does buy into the whole "it would be great if we bulldozed all of nature instantly" but since that's not happening, he advocates that technology should eliminate pain in nature entirely. If you ask me, wild animal suffering never concerned me that much, and I think Pearce sounds like he's caught up in too much wacky sci-fi optimism, but if you're interested in this it's worth checking out
  • Arguments for having Children
    from the arguments I’ve seen, animals only “matter” in the equation if your antinatalism is purely based on a hedonic output (suffering outweighs pleasure) But not all antinatalists accspt this line of ethics. Animals suffer yes, but their suffering is a lot different than human suffering. The pessimist can point out that animals aren’t self reflective, they don’t need to constantly strive, and many animals like cows or gorillas can sit around for long hours simply “not doing” when most humans can’t (maybe monks can but that takes the tons training). The question remains whether these things are truly bad for humans, but it allows the antinatalist to steer clear of “annihilate all nature” that some people accept.
  • Exploitation of Forcing Work on Others
    sorry I didn’t mean blame as in people who have kids deserve punishment, but that people who have kids are morally responsible.
  • Exploitation of Forcing Work on Others
    This is kind of a random question, but I like your responses so I’m interested in seeing what’d you have say. What if there came a time where human beings all became sterile, but babies started popping into the world out of thin air-no procreation required and no parents who made a conscious choice to put another human here. What do you think humans would do in such a predicament? Now there’s nobody to blame if my life turns out to suck. I’ve always wondered how the pessimistic anitnatalist would react to such a thing
  • Arguments for having Children
    just wanted to say your posts in the “all things wrong with antinatalism” thread convinced me.

    Now, If you had 100% certainty that your future kid would cure cancer, having them wouldn’t exactly be self centered.
  • Exploitation of Forcing Work on Others
    if for whatever reason we DID need to force the Lifeguard to teach life guarding lessons (there’s a shortage) would it then be okay? Personally I think it would be, if let’s say the government estimates that 100000 children will drown in a year
  • Exploitation of Forcing Work on Others


    “Let's say you did the calculus and indeed the greatest number of people would be saved if he did this. There is something wrong with this. But what?”

    but isn’t this just another Omelas situation but a little different? In some fantastical situation for the sake of an argument, if someone was forced to run a business forever and doing so saved 5 million people from the Agony Box, I personally feel like forcing them was permissible. Not doing so would mean 5 million people are in constant pain and suffering. If to you it’s still wrong then I respect your moral intuitions but It just doesn’t seem like a safe alternative is possible to me. Your moral system and Khaled’s system lead to 2 giant bullets I’ll have to bite, and the aggregate amount seems more appropriate.

    To me it’s like taxing the shit out of Jeff Bezos to redistribute the wealth. Bezos, his family, and all of the Amazon higher ups are going to be absolutely miserable they’re forced to lose a fortune everyday but the people need it. The guy forced to run the life saving business might be miserable too, but the alternative (not forcing him) is much worse and seems unfair. To me this highlights the shortcomings of both deontology and consequentialism
  • The pill of immortality
    I don't think I would, honestly. There's only so much the world can offer before boredom overtakes us. Though I think it would be interesting to have a button I could press to go whenever I want if I did take the pill
  • Psycho-philosophy of whinging
    Also, 'not procreating' causes the vast majority of the Already Born to suffer

    Seems like this itself works as a justification for having children
  • Guest Speaker: David Pearce - Member Discussion Thread
    This guy has always been very interesting. I never liked hedonism and I question whether fully eliminating suffering and all forms of discomfort would be a good idea. Nonetheless I’m interested to hear what he’s got to say
  • A duty to reduce suffering?
    I think it’s important to realize that not every normative ethical standard out there defines suffering as inherently bad. Personally I try to reduce suffering when I can but I think “reduce suffering” as an imperative tends to lead into some world exploding scenarios
  • Is pessimism or optimism the most useful starting point for thinking?
    Schopenhauer probably has the best takes on music I've ever read
  • Is pessimism or optimism the most useful starting point for thinking?
    I am personally skeptical of whether it’s possible to actually be a philosophical pessimist and still retain a happy mood. After I looked up Schopenhauer’s pessimism and read his ideas about the will, I couldn’t function for well over a month as I constantly ruminated over my desire, how I’ll never be satisfied etc even when I was with friends, eating my favourite foods, or generally having what’s supposed to be a good time. This constant ruminating might just be my own fault, but I don’t understand how someone could reach those conclusions and still have a cheery face without it being in your brain all day.

    I think this what separates “the world is hell” kind of pessimism where I’ll consider how many children are starving in Africa and how many terrorists are blowing people up, because I can simply shrug it off since it doesn’t personally affect my life. Schopenhauer’s ideas if they’re true are constantly affecting everyone all the time
  • What if people had to sign a statement prior to giving birth...
    because some of these sacrifices don’t apply when raising a biological child. Adoption to me doesn’t seem harm free, because when you adopt a child, you’ll probably have to pick the kid you wish to adopt, which means singling out other ones. Creating a person negates this problem, and I don’t think every person is able to make that choice.
  • What if people had to sign a statement prior to giving birth...
    While it’s true that more ought to adopt, I don’t think adoption is the catchall solution here. Adoption is an incredibly expensive, tedious, and even exclusionary process that can take years to complete. Adopted kids also come with their own issues, and I don’t think every parent is properly prepared to deal with it. If anything, adopting should be made easier but I don’t blame potential parents for not adopting
  • What if people had to sign a statement prior to giving birth...
    yeah I agree there. Hell, reading your posts tends to fill my mind with a sense of dread, and yet I keep coming back to read more of them :lol:
  • What if people had to sign a statement prior to giving birth...
    well, you’ve said many times this is abhorrent to you (and it’s abhorrent to me too) but I think one example of a genuinely positive reason to procreate spurs from a hedonistic utilitarian framework. Parents have kids because they want to, and under this frame it’s all good because there’s a positive aggregate that is maximized. In fact, I’d wager a lot of parents use a watered-down version of this justification since most tend to follow their intuitions for applied situations instead of following ethical systems.
  • What if people had to sign a statement prior to giving birth...
    I’m not an antinatalist but I honestly think something like this should be implemented. It feels like it should be common sense, at least. Most philosophers aren’t antinatalist either but I’ll bet every professor in ethics recognizes that child rearing is a gigantic responsibility and people ought to do it responsibly. This seems like the best way to do it. If someone says no then they’re not fit to parent