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The Parent as Apologist

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Awesome antinatalist propaganda from Zralytylen, on Jim’s antinatalist pamphlet site:

I do not think it is emphasized nearly enough that all parents are, in effect, apologists for the Holocaust. If the Holocaust were not, in some deep way, “okay” – if the world including frequent genocide were not “okay” – how would it be acceptable to reproduce? Making a new baby says the world is alright. And the world includes genocide, mass rape, pediatric AIDS, eyeball parasites . . . all this, though, the parent must conclude, is “worth it.”

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Written by Sister Y

December 2, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Posted in antinatalism

10 Responses

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  1. This pertains to a problem with all ethics that build on some idea of universalizability: To what extent do you count others' behavior as just a given aspect of the world and to what extent to you universalize over it as well?

    So I think from a purely theoretical point of view, antinatalist arguments that focus on harm that is nobody's fault and cannot be avoided is “safer”.

    But this one still has intuitive force – in fact, force from the same source that makes Kant's example with the liar and the murderer so appalling.

    Constant

    December 2, 2010 at 6:40 pm

  2. Yes – this connects into the whole theodicy thing, especially the “free will” explanation for evil. Some evil is caused by free will. But the easier case, for those like me who believe that if there is a God it is evil, is evil that is not caused by any conscious entity (like eyeball parasites).

    To what extent do you count others' behavior as just a given aspect of the world and to what extent to you universalize over it as well?

    This is a very interesting question in tort law as well – when do we have a duty not just to avoid injuring people, but to protect them from other people? Especially the intentional wrongdoing of other people? The tort law answer tends to be “when it's foreseeable and you have some special relationship to the victim.” Parents and children are a special relationship. You have a duty not to let people beat your children.

    If the law were rational, I think there would also be a duty not to have children in the first place. A California court of appeals even agreed with me, for a while, in a limited case of a child born with a foreseeable defect – see my explanation here.

    Sister Y

    December 2, 2010 at 8:30 pm

  3. It's not precisely on point, but I am again reminded of the table talk from Todd Solondz's “Storytelling”:

    BRADY

    We're studying the Holocaust in
    Social Studies.

    MARTY

    Oh, yeah?

    SCOOBY

    We did the same thing last year also.

    FERN

    How was the class?

    BRADY

    Well, I'm supposed to watch Schindler's List for homework. The
    movie's like almost four hours.
    And then I'm supposed to write a
    report on survivors.

    (to Marty)

    You know any survivors, Dad?

    MARTY

    Hmmm…Do I know any…personally…?

    FERN

    Well, technically your Zeda is a
    survivor.

    BRADY

    He was in a concentration camp?

    FERN

    Well, no. But he had to escape the
    Nazis.

    BRADY

    But I thought he came over to
    America before the war.

    FERN

    Well, he did. With his family. But
    his cousins, they had to stay and
    they were all killed. And if he'd
    stayed, he would have been killed.
    So in my book he's a survivor.

    BRADY

    Even though it was only his
    cousins that were killed?

    FERN

    But that could've happened to him.
    Or to me, if I'd been alive. Or
    you.

    MIKEY

    Or me?

    SCOOBY

    You mean, then, we're all
    survivors?

    FERN

    Well…yes. If it hadn't been for
    Hitler, he wouldn't have had to
    leave Europe. We would have
    been…European.

    SCOOBY

    But then, in a sense, since you
    would never have met Dad if your
    family had stayed in Europe…if
    it weren't for Hitler, none of us
    would have been born.

    (A long pause.)

    MARTY

    Get the hell outta here!

    Chip

    December 2, 2010 at 8:45 pm

  4. A bit further down the path forged by Scooby's dialectical prowess.

    Rob

    December 2, 2010 at 9:19 pm

  5. I think this image would have even less success in convincing people than the holocaust-metaphers of the animal-rights-people have. Nevertheless I can see some truth in both of them. But to most people it will sound absolutely absurd that their having babies could have any connection whatsoever with genocide.

    Btw, sorry for any confusion, I'm a different rob than the Rob above me – a smaller one, if You will 😉

    rob

    December 3, 2010 at 11:18 pm

  6. As Archie says at the end of Jumpers:

    “Do not despair – many are happy much of the time. More eat than starve, more are healthy than sick, more curable than dying, not so many dying as dead – and one of the thieves was saved! Hell’s bells and all’s well! Half the world is at peace with itself, and so is the other half. Vast areas are unpolluted, millions of children grow up without suffering deprivation, and millions, while deprived, grow up without suffering cruelties, and millions, while deprived and cruelly treated, nonetheless… grow up.”

    Salem

    December 4, 2010 at 12:13 am

  7. Salem:

    “Do not despair – many slaves are happy much of the time. More eat than starve, more are healthy than sick, more curable than dying, not so many dying as dead – and one of the thieves was saved! Hell’s bells and all’s well! Half the world's population of slaves is at peace with itself, and so is the other half. Vast areas are unpolluted, millions of slave children grow up without suffering deprivation, and millions, while deprived, grow up without suffering cruelties, and millions, while deprived and cruelly treated, nonetheless… grow up.”

    Wow, even when altered to pertain exclusively to slavery, the quote still stands! You're right; it's definitely time to put people to work in the fields again.

    Leaving Society

    December 9, 2010 at 2:29 am

  8. “In the face of an argument why [a slave] was not benefited by his enslavement, we would view with suspicion his enthusiasm for his own enslavement. We should do the same about people’s enthusiasm for their having come into existence.” Benatar

    Rob

    December 9, 2010 at 11:11 pm

  9. How bizarre… I read this post and comments AFTER I read and commented on the new post re: Nussbaum and storytelling… and my comments on that post revolved around slavery. Something in the water this week, I spose.

    Ann Sterzinger

    December 12, 2010 at 11:42 pm

  10. Here's a quote from Paul Fussell's “Thank God for the Atom Bomb” –

    “’A Power of Facing Unpleasant Facts’ – The words are [George] Orwell’s in his essay ‘Why I Write.’ From childhood, he says, he might have sensed that he was going to be a writer, for already he had ‘a facility with words and a power of facing unpleasant facts.’ The latter, he implies throughout his career, is necessary not just to any writer but to any honest thinker. And it’s notably a power, not merely a talent or a flair. The power of facing unpleasant facts is clearly an attribute of decent, sane grown-ups as opposed to the immature, the silly, the nutty, or the doctrinaire. Some exemplary unpleasant facts are these: that life is short and almost always ends messily; that if you live in the actual world you can’t have your own way; that if you do get what you want, it turns out not to be the thing you wanted; that no one thinks as well of you as you do yourself; and that one or two generations from now you will be forgotten entirely and that the world will go on as if you had never existed. Another is that to survive and prosper in this world you have to do so at someone else's expense or do and undergo things it’s not pleasant to face: like, for example, purchasing your life at the cost of the innocents murdered in the aerial bombing of Europe and the final bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And not just the bombings. It’s also an unpleasant fact that you are alive and well because you or your representatives killed someone with bullets, shells, bayonets or knives, if not in Germany, Italy or Japan, then Korea or Vietnam. You have connived at murder, and you thrive on it, and that fact is too unpleasant to face except rarely.”

    Anonymous

    April 17, 2011 at 8:50 pm


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