Bryan Caplan  

Robin Channels Epicurus

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The great Epicurus:
Yet much worse still is the man who says it is good not to be born, but "once born make haste to pass the gates of Death." [Theognis, 427]  For if he says this from conviction why does he not pass away out of life? For it is open to him to do so, if he had firmly made up his mind to this. But if he speaks in jest, his words are idle among men who cannot receive them.

The great Robin Hanson:

I mean, really, the whole human race should go extinct to avoid the risk that some future kid might suffer at some point?! And since the same argument applies to non-humans, all life should go extinct?! How could that ever be a remotely acceptable mainstream position? Cryonics is silly, and that is not?!


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COMMENTS (8 to date)
Jeff writes:
How could that ever be a remotely acceptable mainstream position?

It says something about leftist thinking that you can hold the position that homo sapiens should let themselves go extinct and not get ignored as a crank by all those erudite, educated right-thinking people at NPR and the New Yorker.

soonerliberty writes:

I doubt those who make such statements mean that they themselves should go extinct. They normally mean other people. It's the same with the greens. Many more radical ones claim that it may be necessary to kill off massive swathes of humans in what is known as Maoist environmentalism. Of course, they never mean themselves. It would be logical for them to commit mass suicide to save the planet, but they don't believe in their principles that much - only when it involves the loss of life for third persons, especially of other ideological bents.

KP writes:

Thank goodness for upstanding greens like Pentti Linkola:

If there were a button I could press, I would sacrifice myself without hesitating, if it meant millions of people would die.
aez writes:

Yes, soonerliberty, it is as though they believe they have earned the right to survive--and encourage such decisions--by their belief in the duty of others NOT to survive, and the greater good if the others do not survive.

It's a religious tenet disguised as a Cause.

rapscallion writes:

I don't think much of antinatalism, but she never said this and it's only an uncharitable interpretation of her that implies that she sees human extinction as a moral imperative.

You have no right to be too upset when opponents put words in your mouth if you're doing the same thing to others.

Chris T writes:

rapscallion - I'm really not sure how one could interpret her remarks any other way. Presumably her arguments apply to everyone and if no one has kids, humanity becomes extinct.

rapscallion writes:

Chris T,

I listened to the podcast.

As I recall, she said that the choice of whether or not to have a child is an ethically difficult one and the likely quality of a potential child’s life is relevant to it, sometimes militating against it.

It’s obviously a huge stretch to say this is an assertion that there should be no children and the human race should go extinct.

(thought I posted this before, but it disappeared…not sure what happened)

Jeff writes:

rapscallion,

I think it was more David Benatar's views described in the New Yorker piece that has us rolling our eyes rather than Overall's.

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