Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, March 12, 2007

Yeah, But Will The Muslims Listen?

James Taranto and crew at BOTWT have mighty funny tales to tell every weekday and today's offering ended with a bang, led into by a list of worst titles of the year offered by a publisher. One of the titles, "Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence," triggered this:

That last one caught our attention, so we looked it up on The author, David Benatar, is head of the philosophy department at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Here's the book description from Amazon:

Most people believe that they were either benefited or at least not harmed by being brought into existence. Thus, if they ever do reflect on whether they should bring others into existence--rather than having children without even thinking about whether they should--they presume that they do them no harm.

Better Never to Have Been challenges these assumptions. David Benatar argues that coming into existence is always a serious harm. Although the good things in one's life make one's life go better than it otherwise would have gone, one could not have been deprived by their absence if one had not existed. Those who never exist cannot be deprived. However, by coming into existence one does suffer quite serious harms that could not have befallen one had one not come into existence.

Drawing on the relevant psychological literature, the author shows that there are a number of well-documented features of human psychology that explain why people systematically overestimate the quality of their lives and why they are thus resistant to the suggestion that they were seriously harmed by being brought into existence.

The author then argues for the "anti-natal" view--that it is always wrong to have children--and he shows that combining the anti-natal view with common pro-choice views about foetal moral status yield a "pro-death" view about abortion (at the earlier stages of gestation). Anti-natalism also implies that it would be better if humanity became extinct.

Although counter-intuitive for many, that implication is defended, not least by showing that it solves many conundrums of moral theory about population.

So basically, this joker has built an entire philosophy around the childish protest "I didn't ask to be born!"

Benatar has succeeded in capturing the selfish existentialism of the urban West, and its desire to simply stop procreating. He gives it a glossy psychiatric sheen, but beneath his arguments is this: Life for us is more fun if we don't have sagging-diapered little brats running about.

His ruminations are lost on the Muslims. He would have us become a demographic footnote while Muslim populations in the western democracies surge.

Note to Benatar: Never having been equals never having voted. Got it?

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