« First they came for the Cheerios and I did not speak out because I did not eat Cheerios...
 | Main | Warning! Constitution Ahead! Proceed With Extreme Caution! »

June 08, 2010

The New Child Abuse: Having A Child

Just in time for Father’s Day, Princeton bioethics professor Peter Singer, writes a piece for the New York Times titled “Should This Be The Last Generation?” in which he questions whether or not it is moral to have children.

In particular, the professor notes with some surprise that among the concerns prospective parents contemplate when considering having a child:

“Very few ask whether coming into existence is a good thing for the child itself.”

That is due at least partly to the fact that very few prospective parents are bioethics professors at Princeton.

But the central question remains: Is your existence a good thing for you?  Do you find satisfaction in your work?  Do you enjoy spending time with your family?  Is your life rich, fulfilling, and populated with close friends?

If you answered, “yes,” you are sadly mistaken. You are actually miserable and would have been better off had you never been born.

Oh, and you’re going to die.

If you are like most Planet Morons readers, you are probably saying to yourself, “Wait, these aren’t my pants.“

Also, “Hey, I’m pretty happy and am thankful my parents chose to bring me into this world.”

That’s because you are not a deep thinker.

Such as 19th-century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, who according to Singer believed that:

“Even the best life possible for humans is one in which we strive for ends that, once achieved, bring only fleeting satisfaction. New desires then lead us on to further futile struggles and the cycle repeats itself.”

Apparently, Schopenhauer played golf.

Singer brings the concept that you lead a wretched existence into the 21st century, citing the work of South African philosopher David Benatar, author of the uplifting:

(Remember, Amazon Prime members get free two-day shipping so dad will get it in plenty of time!)

As Singer puts it, Benatar believes that:

“Human lives are, in general, much less good than we think they are. We spend most of our lives with unfulfilled desires, and the occasional satisfactions that are all most of us can achieve are insufficient to outweigh these prolonged negative states. If we think that this is a tolerable state of affairs it is because we are, in Benatar’s view, victims of the illusion of pollyannaism. This illusion may have evolved because it helped our ancestors survive, but it is an illusion nonetheless. If we could see our lives objectively, we would see that they are not something we should inflict on anyone.”

In other words, if you were as smart and deep-thinking as David Benatar you’d be as miserable as he is.

But then, Peter Singer is also a deep thinker, for example, going to great pains to passionately defend the complex reasoning behind why he would save the life of a human over that of a mouse. 

And no, “because it’s a mouse” is not a satisfactory answer, at least not if you want to be a respected ethics professor at Princeton.

In the end, however, Singer concedes that maybe life is worth living, or at least will be eventually.

Well, maybe after Father’s Day, which could be a little awkward this year.

Happy Fathers Day I Hate You

Bookmark and Share

June 8, 2010 at 05:48 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The New Child Abuse: Having A Child:


Check out Jim Crawford's blog antinatalism.net, and his recently published book "Confessions of an Antinatalist".

Posted by: The Plague Doctor | Jun 12, 2010 8:52:48 AM

You have to understand. They're not thinking of themselves, they're thinking of the children. Well, the non-children.

Posted by: Planet Moron | Jun 9, 2010 12:39:40 PM

Big 5 is having a sale on shotguns. Perhaps Pete and David should head down there and make themselves happy, if only for a brief second. And us happier as well for the rest of our lives.

Posted by: TheOldMan | Jun 9, 2010 12:17:21 PM

The only thing that makes me feel miserable are the deep-thinkers who try to tell me why I should feel miserable.
May I suggest that their next convention be held during rush hour on the Brooklyn bridge. Or any suitable freeway.

Posted by: barryjo | Jun 9, 2010 9:50:04 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.