I heard him on Sam Harris’s podcast (who I also have mixed feelings about but often agree with) and Harris had basically the same issue that I did: “you’re kinda just proclaiming The Asymmetry.”
Refresher: Benatar’s big “asymmetry” is like this: good experiences are good, and bad ones are bad. The absence of bad things (if a person didn’t exist) is good, but the absence of good things (if a person didn’t exist) isn’t bad because there’s nobody who’s around to miss the good things.
My and Sam’s response: what the hell! You’re just saying that. We can just as easily say “the absence of bad things isn’t good, because there’s nobody around who’s not experiencing bad things.”
If you don’t accept The Asymmetry, most of the rest of his book doesn’t add up. (You could instead be all Buddhist-ish and say “life is always just negative things; the best you can do is have no negative things”, which neatly solves some population ethics problems still, but I don’t think I believe that either.)
Also apparently he wrote this too, so, uh, that’s embarrassing.
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