Mini-Heap


Links piling up quickly… Here’s the latest edition of Mini-Heap—10 recent items from the frequently updated Heap of Links. Feel free to discuss. 

For example, re: #3, what’s the best argument against Benatar’s antinatalism?

The Heap of Links consists partly of suggestions from readers; if you find something online that you think would be of interest to the philosophical community, please send it in for consideration for the Heap.

  1. The wishes of the dead — Barry Lam (Vassar) is featured on WAMC’s Academic Minute
  2. “Like everyone else, Benatar finds his views disturbing” — a profile, such as is possible, of the reclusive David Benatar, in The New Yorker
  3. “Schmitt, You and Me” — a film installation in which gun shop employees read passages from the work of Carl Scmitt (at UC Irvine)
  4. Ask Rivka Weinberg anything — the philosopher (at Scripps) will be on Reddit this morning
  5. “Greatly aided by the crispness of thinking that comes with philosophical training” — influential Silicon Valley billionaire Reid Hoffman on the value of his educational background in philosophy
  6. Discriminating between cake-discrimination cases — John Corvino (Wayne State) in the NYT’s The Stone
  7. The best philosophy books for beginners — suggestions from several philosophers
  8. Interviews as assignments in philosophy courses — how Stephanie Jenkins (Oregon State) does it
  9. New cognitive biases poster — now with definitions (and more entries)
  10. Last year’s Thanksgiving post — on gratitude
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David Curtis Glebe, J.D., Ph.D.
David Curtis Glebe, J.D., Ph.D.
3 years ago

While the NY article on David Benatar was interesting and well-written, the title was misleading. Yes, his “views” are obviously disturbing, but what is important is the “argument” he advances, which is not so disturbing as it is ridiculous. He cherry-picks evidence in order to concoct a few vague and poorly-articulated generalizations, applies a simplistic hedonistic calculus that anyone taking an “Introduction to Ethics” class would recognize as practically absurd, and derives conclusions that his premises might (or might not) support. For example, why call for the entire human species to become extinct if the main problem is merely that our lives purportedly contain far more pain than pleasure? Isn’t that a tad drastic? Why not solve the problem by purposefully directing our efforts towards decreasing human pains and increasing human pleasures, until the balance tips the other way? (Surely Benatar can’t reasonably maintain that this far-less-drastic solution is impossible, can he?) Or, why not solve the “excessive pain” problem by finding some means of getting rid of ALL human pains and pleasures — so that future humans could live, according to Benatar, the FAR BETTER LIVES they would have by experiencing neither, and by existing basically as inanimate objects do? Give us a break. It’s amazing to me that his “arguments,” if one can charitably call them such, are taken seriously by other philosophers. Even the title of his 2006 book, “Better Never To Have Been,” is disingenuous, since he is attempting in a subtle way to conceal the underlying idea, namely, “[ONE IS] Better Never to Have Been,” which is logically incoherent.Report