This was an interesting discussion. It was a learning opportunity for me, as I have no prior opinion on anti-natalism. David has a unique perspective where he assigns different values to creation of life and continuation of life. He believes, on average, life is overall painful and it’s cruel to bring a new life into existence. However, a life that’s already in existence has a purpose to continue existing.
I don’t think I completely understand David’s point of view. During the talk, he asserts that:
- Overall life is painful, which implies that total of all experiences good and bad accrued over a lifetime is negative.
- Pain increases as you age, which implies that a person realizes most of the pleasant experiences at the beginning.
Now, if I accept both these assertions and that it’s too cruel to create new life, then I find it difficult to agree that an existing life has an incentive to persist. An existing life will only get more painful and develop a desire to end.
Moving on, Sam Harris wanted to explore if certain families would be within their moral rights to create a new life. His supporting argument to negate David’s first point was that if a family is well off, they can ensure their offspring wouldn’t have a painful life. I don’t completely agree with this line of reasoning. Current wealth isn’t the only factor that determines the quality of life one can expect. An unexpected downturn in the family’s fortune, or a DNA mutation in the offspring, could make life miserable. It’s difficult to predict such events.
This was a thought-provoking discussion, and my wife and I spent a good hour or two discussing our views. We touched upon many topics – euthanasia, abortion, adoption, and whether humans are the right species to lead the world into future. I recommend everyone to listen to this one and form your own opinions.