"Most people believe that they were either benefited or at least not harmed by being brought into existence. Thus, if they ever do reflect on whether they should bring others into existence--rather than having children without even thinking about whether they should--they presume that they do them no harm. Better Never to Have Been challenges these assumptions. David Benatar argues that coming into existence is always a serious harm. Although the good things in one's life make one's life go better than it otherwise would have gone, one could not have been deprived by their absence if one had not existed. Those who never exist cannot be deprived. However, by coming into existence one does suffer quite serious harms that could not have befallen one had one not come into existence."From Oxford University Press description.
Are you overestimating the quality of your life? Probably. Which is why David Benatar thinks you ought to reexamine whether you should have been born in the first place. He thinks most humans probably should never have been born. This is the only way to, er, "...solve many conundrums of moral theory about population..." If you know anything at all, Peter Singer, you know that resolving contradictions in moral theories is more important than life itself.
Who said ideas have no consequences? What I like about these people--utilitarians all--is how they are honest in their extrapolations. Instead of that famous military aphorism, "Kill 'em all; let God sort 'em out!", we have a pithy philosophy summed up by: "The end justifies the means". God plays no part, as He is just a manifestation of someone's desire to be happy. Or to be justified; same difference. House, M.D. is only the latest, greatest expression of utilitarianism, and his appeal is simply in his blunt honesty--social mores be damned. This is all well and good until someone's honesty results in you being chosen for elimination. These people must love Survivor.
The photo is of Jeremy Bentham, famous Utilitarian who had his body embalmed and is on display at University College London. He is one of a long line of idealists--among them episcopalians, feminists, democrats, Millists, free-thinkers, utopians, Princetonians, Deweyites--who believe that with just enough education, people would be more likely to decide and vote progressively on the basis of rational
self-promotion. Alas, it never works out that way. Backward, Bible-informed moral values just keep intruding into people's lives, and progress is ever something yearned for, but never achieved. Well, except in the Soviet Union, for awhile.
HT to Mercatornet.