1. The party/nightclub analogy:
a) Suppose you are invited by friends to go to a party at a nightclub.
b) Suppose your friends will pay for all your drinks up till midnight
c) Suppose that your friends have good reason to believe that you will enjoy yourself, because they know what sorts of things they like, and you’re their friend, so there’s a high probability you’ll like the party too.
d) Suppose also that you know that you always have to leave a party; it doesn’t go on indefinitely. You can leave when you hook up with someone, or when you get depressed because you haven’t hooked up with someone, or you can leave when you drink too much and your friends take you home, or, you can get evicted by the bouncer, or you can get into a fight and have to go to hospital afterwards. Almost all ways of leaving the party are unpleasant and disagreeable (drunk/stupor/lonely/bounced/hospitalised).
e) Suppose for argument’s sake that you definitely will have fun most of the time at the party.
f) Do you want to go to the party?
These are analogies for life.
a) Your parents invite you into life by creating you
b) They will cover your costs till you’re an adult
c) They think you’ll enjoy life as they did
d) You are going to die at some stage, it’s just a question of how.
e) You do in fact mostly enjoy your life.
f) Do you want to live?
I think the answer is yes: better to go, and risk being bounced or assaulted or whatever, than not go and be lonely and bored at home anyway.
2. Duty to procreate: the Idiocracy argument
Look. Think about Idiocracy (the movie). Would it not be better for humanity, overall, if more intelligent people had kids? This is in danger of being eugenicist, so I’m not saying less intelligent people ought to not. I’m saying that more intelligent people ought to have kids, on the assumption that intelligence is inherited (it must be, because we’re genetically distinct from apes and more intelligent than them). We need smart people. Only smart people are smart enough to appreciate what Benatar is arguing. Which in effect means his argument encourages smart people to not breed and therefore reduce the average intelligence of humanity.
3. Meaning in life
If I think about my own life, the three most meaningful things are cultural and biological: In order of value,
- My kids
- My marriage
- My PhD
Of these, the most valued thing in my life which I have felt to be the most meaningful is my kids. That is not to say that people who do not have kids have meaningless lives, just that they’re missing out.