David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
South African Journal of Philosophy 31 (1):55-68 (2012)
David Benatar argues that coming into existence is always a harm, and that – for all of us unfortunate enough to have come into existence – it would be better had we never come to be. We contend that if one accepts Benatar’s arguments for the asymmetry between the presence and absence of pleasure and pain, and the poor quality of life, one must also accept that suicide is preferable to continued existence, and that his view therefore implies both anti-natalism and pro-mortalism . This conclusion has been argued for before by Elizabeth Harman – she takes it that because Benatar claims that our lives are ‘awful’, it follows that ‘we would be better off to kill ourselves’ (Harman 2009: 784). Though we agree with Harman’s conclusion, we think that her argument is too quick, and that Benatar’s arguments for non-pro-mortalism deserve more serious consideration than she gives them. We make our case using a tripartite structure. We start by examining the prima facie case for the claim that pro-mortalism follows from Benatar’s position, presenting his response to the contrary, and furthering the dialectic by showing that Benatar’s position is not just that coming into existence is a harm, but that existence itself is a harm. We then look to Benatar’s treatment of the Epicurean line, which is important for him as it undermines his anti-death argument for non-pro-mortalism. We demonstrate that he fails to address the concern that the Epicurean line raises, and that he cannot therefore use the harm of death as an argument for non-pro-mortalism. Finally, we turn to Benatar’s pro-life argument for non-pro-mortalism, built upon his notion of interests, and argue that while the interest in continued existence may indeed have moral relevance, it is almost always irrational. Given that neither Benatar’s anti-death nor pro-life arguments for non-pro-mortalism work, we conclude that pro-mortalism follows from his anti-natalism, As such, if it is better never to have been, then it is better no longer to be.
|Keywords||David Benatar Anti-natalism Death Epicurus|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Thaddeus Metz (2012). Contemporary Anti-Natalism, Featuring Benatar's Better Never to Have Been. South African Journal of Philosophy 31 (1):1-9.
Aaron Smuts (2013). To Be or Never to Have Been: Anti-Natalism and a Life Worth Living. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice (4):1-19.
Campbell Brown (2011). Better Never to Have Been Believed: Benatar on the Harm of Existence. Economics and Philosophy 27 (1):45-52.
David Benatar (2013). Still Better Never to Have Been: A Reply to (More of) My Critics. [REVIEW] Journal of Ethics 17 (1-2):121-151.
David DeGrazia (2010). Is It Wrong to Impose the Harms of Human Life? A Reply to Benatar. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 31 (4):317-331.
Gerald K. Harrison (2012). Antinatalism, Asymmetry, and an Ethic of Prima Facie Duties. South African Journal of Philosophy 31 (1):94-103.
Brooke Alan Trisel (2012). How Best to Prevent Future Persons From Suffering: A Reply to Benatar. South African Journal of Philosophy 31 (1):79-93.
David Benatar (2006). Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence. New York ;Oxford University Press.
David Benatar (ed.) (2009). Life, Death, and Meaning: Key Philosophical Readings on the Big Questions. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc..
Thaddeus Metz (2011). Are Lives Worth Creating? Philosophical Papers 40 (2):233-255.
Elizabeth Harman (2009). David Benatar. Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006). Noûs 43 (4):776-785.
David Benatar (2011). The Owl and the Ostrich: Reply to Sami Pihlström on Ethical Unthinkabilities and Philosophical Seriousness. Metaphilosophy 42 (5):605-616.
Y. Nagasawa (2008). Review: David Benatar: Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence. [REVIEW] Mind 117 (467):674-677.
Saul Smilansky (2008). Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence – David Benatar. Philosophical Quarterly 58 (232):569–571.
Added to index2012-08-15
Total downloads9 ( #165,736 of 1,102,057 )
Recent downloads (6 months)3 ( #128,871 of 1,102,057 )
How can I increase my downloads?