Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence by David Benatar

By David Benatar

Larger by no means to were argues for a couple of similar, hugely provocative, perspectives: (1) entering lifestyles is often a major damage. (2) it truly is consistently unsuitable to have childrens. (3) it truly is improper to not abort fetuses on the past phases of gestation. (4) it'd be higher if, due to there being no new humans, humanity grew to become extinct. those perspectives may well sound unbelievable--but an individual who reads Benatar should be obliged to take them heavily.

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The point may be made another way. Just as I am not talking about intrinsic badness when I say that absent pleasures that deprive are bad, so I am not speaking about intrinsic ‘not badness’—neutrality—when I speak about absent pleasures that do not deprive. Just as absent pleasures that do deprive are ‘bad’ in ³⁰ The only time it would be bad in that sense is where the absence of pleasure is actually painful. Why Coming into Existence Is Always a Harm ∼  the sense of ‘worse’, so absent pleasures that do not deprive are ‘not bad’ in the sense of ‘not worse’.

See, for example, Singer, Peter, Practical Ethics nd edn. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ). Notice, by the way, that although Peter Singer’s conclusions about the extent of our positive duties are radically counterintuitive, that counterintuitiveness is not usually thought to suffice as an argument against his position. Curiously, though, there is much less hesitance to treat my conclusions as a reductio of my argument. I shall say more about this in Chapter . ²⁵ The condition that the moral reason (or duty) be grounded in the interests of the potential person is an important one.

It has been said that because the former, by definition, are cases of lives worth living, one cannot judge never existing to be preferable to existing with such a life. The force of this argument, however, rests on a crucial ambiguity in the expression ‘a life worth living’—an ambiguity I shall now probe. 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.

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