David Benatar, Interviewed

This interview with David Benatar is awfully interesting, for several reasons.  Let me count the ways--

First, the interviewer (Redi Direko) takes many sentences of her introduction from my unpublished review of Benatar's book without attribution.   Odd fact:  that review is the most popular item on this blog--see WRITING in the right column (yes, I can tell what's popular). It's at the top of the list if you do a google search on "David Benatar".

Update (I'm still listening): I'm simply amazed by the way the interviewer keeps reading from my review, without attribution, half-way through the interview. 

Second, I've never heard Benatar talk, and he's surprisingly sunny.  I suppose I expected a more dark and dour tone from someone who believes it's a mistake to create new people.

Third, the interview is directly relevant to the posts about procreative ethics I've been writing here lately.  Benatar's book raises lots of interesting questions about creating people, but also raises a meta-level question about what views we must contend with.  Must we take the time to logically dissect any wild idea anyone comes up with, no matter how strongly we recoil?  I discussed that meta-question back at Talking Philosophy.


Faust said...

Have you tried to connect this stuff with the doctrines of cessation in Hinduism and Buddhism?

I can see this stuff tracking with the 4 noble truths for one thing. Cessation also figures strongly in Hinduism.

Anonymous said...


I'm still not convinced by his asymmetry, but it's an interesting point of view. Personally, under the more reasonable assumptions that

a) we are responsible for the foreseeable effects of our actions

b) anybody who is alive will die

I'm still very surprised that people don't accept that parents are responsible for the inevitable (as foreseeable with probability one) death of their children.

Having children really looks like playing russian roulette with someone else's life.

(which doesn't stricly imply that it is bad having kids ...)

Anonymous said...

"which doesn't stricly imply that it is bad having kids"

Of course it does.

Anonymous said...

Hey there.

I read your post and think that the interviewer probably didn't even bother reading the book.

In any case, I'd really like to thank you for at least giving her something to speak to him about so that the interview was beneficial.

I'm a big fan of Benatar. He is actually one of my lecturers (I am truly privileged)

Also- I really like your blog :)