Friday, December 21, 2012

Antinatalism?



If you look at the prefix and suffix, you could probably figure what this is, but just in case I will define it.  Antinatalism is the conviction that having children is immoral because of the harm you impose upon the child by conceiving them without their consent.  Antinatalists include philosophical pessimist Arthur Schopenhaur; DavidBenatar, professor of philosophy at the University of Capetown South Africa and author of Better To Have Never Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence;  Jim Crawford, former minister turned atheist, author of Confessions of an Antinatalist, and blogger; Thomas Ligotti, author of The Conspiracy against the Human Race; Sister Y, blogger; Francois Tremblay, feminist blogger; MoralChildfree; P. Srivastana, author of “Conceiving a Child is a Sin”.
Moral Childfree states that if it’s such a “dog eat dog world” and “life isn’t fair” instead of saying “get used to it” or “suck it up and deal”, why bring people into that type of world?  He also states that a parent is responsible for everything that goes wrong in the child’s life for their entire life.  Sister Y compares having children to giving some ecstasy without their consent because it’s “fucking awesome”.  She says that when it comes to drugs, people focus on the harm and find the joy irrelevant.  Drugs are extremely difficult to quit, they cause a host of problems from financial to physical, and they ultimately kill you.  

Benatar’s aforementioned book is lengthy and contains many philosophy concepts including the Hedonistic principle: suppose you plant someone with a desire to paint the Sydney Opera House blue and then you paint the Sydney Opera House blue.  The two maneuvers cancel out.  He also discusses the optimism bias that makes people think their lives are far better than they actually are.  But the main crux of his argument is where he stipulates that whereas non-existent beings can’t be deprived of pleasure since they have no feelings, to deprive them of pain is a positive.  When it comes to existence versus non-existence, Benatar postulates an asymmetry that we can break down as follows:
Pleasure +
Pain –
Existence, Pleasure +
Existence, Pain –
Non-existence, No Pleasure +/- (since you wouldn’t know what you were missing)
Non-existence, No Pain +
Therefore Existence +/-
Therefore Non-existence +
QED

Let’s say for the sake of argument that non-existent beings can be deprived of pleasure.  All that means is that:
Therefore Existence +/-
Therefore Non-existence +/-
QED

Before jumping to the conclusion that life is for fools, I will address my reservations about antinatalism.
In terms of Sister Y’s analogy to drugs, can you honestly compare all of life, travel, spirituality, sports, love, family, to something as base as drug use?  Then again, in her defense, I have never done drugs so maybe they are the best feeling one can have, bringing spiritual and transcendent feelings, and the analogy stands.  
Regarding Benatar’s asymmetry, there are two assumptions that may be logically flawed.  First, there is the assumption that pain is always a bad thing (-).  I know that he doesn’t mean the neuronal impulses of pain as in the case of masochism or running, which are painful but boost endorphins.  He means the subjective experience of suffering.  But suffering can be a positive (+).  You can learn from it and become a better person, making lemonade out of lemons.  You can be glad it happened because of what it led to later in life.  For example, since ancient Greece, suffering has led some people to embrace the philosophy of Hedonism, that pleasure should outweigh pain.   Since antiquity, it has at least led to Epicureanism, that pain should be minimized and people should just try to be ok rather than happy.  Second, Charles Darwin stated in Origin of the Species that sentient beings continue to propagate themselves because pleasure outweighs pain.  Therefore there could arguably be more positive units (++).  What does that do for the argument?
There was one particularly nimble postulation in the book though, which is as follows:
There is no moral obligation to impose pleasure
There is a moral obligation not to impose pain

The question that lingers in my mind is: are you morally obligated to impose pain if it leads to pleasure? Suppose for example you push someone from oncoming traffic onto the sidewalk and they bruise their chin.  You were doing that so that they wouldn’t end up paralyzed and now they can go on and live a good life.  Then again, they’re already alive, but that’s something I’ll let marinate.




Tuesday, November 20, 2012

“Nobody is Smarter than You Are"




According American philosopher and playwright Terrence McKenna, “Nobody is Smarter than You Are”.  “And even if they were, what good is their intelligence doing you?”  

I can’t help but be reminded of Republicans berating people to get a crummy job, heck even three crummy jobs while you’re at it.  Because everyone knows The American Dream is true (consider that the US has the lowest mobility rates out of any other Western country) and that one day you'll make it big, collecting a hefty paycheck that you don’t even need.   Right now you’re worthless apparently, and your whole worth is in your title and being seen as hardworking.  Your reward is feeling like you’re somebody in the distant future, not happiness.  And guess what: apparently you’ll be never happy.  Happy people are slugs, happiness is fleeting.  It comes in brief moments like your child’s graduation or a wedding.  After all, nothing fills us with more joy than a graduation or a wedding.  Many of them believes that life sucks and that this is your only consolation.   To me this is not Christian (or is it?  Pay now play later).  Rather it sounds curiously, like Social Darwinism.  What some of them suggest is exactly what you can find in the 1871 Social Darwinist primer Might is Right: Survival of The Fittest by Ragnar Redbeard.  But they have incorporated God into their minds and feel obligated to spread this idea, at least to their children who they assume are barbarians and blank slates.  Anyway that’s their opinion. They can’t really go around forcing people to agree with them.   

(I would say that Michael Savage is an exception, because he merely suggests to get a job, any job and then network.  That sounds reasonable.  And on a side note, he is very cathartic at times, like when he defends women against black Muslims, claiming that they are jealous of their women and that the only power they have is to the power to oppress their women.  Or when he goes on a rampage against Islam,  not radical Islam, but Islam, declaring he’s not putting his wife in a hijab and “if don’t like it you can shove it up your pipe.”  Before you claim Islamophobia, consider how Mormonism was racist until the sudden epiphany in 1979 that blacks are equal after all.  Savage touched on Muslims (just like one can criticize Mormons), but was mainly focused Islam and the Koran.)

I hate to harp on this so I’ll just touch on it: racial i.e. black conservatism.  While they suggest some of the same things, I think they were trying to help rather than preach.  I don’t see it as arrogant or condescending at all and never did.  I don’t see why they deserve to be seen as “the bad guy”, let alone mocked as “churchy”.   But this whole ending racism issue hinges on way too many factors starting with free will versus biological determinism.

I could keep it short and sweet but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my girls.  I consider radical feminism one of the few legitimate branches of feminism (or one of the few branches worth considering).  I see everything else including cultural feminism (women are emotional, men are rational), socialist feminism (let’s force women to do what they may perceive as man’s work), Camille Paglia (set up camp in sex-positive feminism, reverse all the efforts of sex-positive feminists to challenge the old double standard in one fell swoop; divide women into wives and whores, glamorize prostitution, and then toss out a lifeline about how women can be CEOs as long they don’t dare live like Samantha from "Sex and the City"), womanism (women’s issues have to be parsed out racially because blacks and whites can never connect on a human level while civil rights is a man’s issue but women join forces with that) etc. as sort of white noise.  Yet I feel a strong sense of solidarity with sex-positive and third world feminism.  My only criticism is that the former is predicated on an issue that can be solved in three therapy sessions and the latter is a projection of essentially Western women onto the third world.  As far as feminism as a whole being about: equal rights, minimal; choice, libertarian; in summary either obsolete or fait accompli.  Meanwhile radical feminism has a completely different mode of thinking about how sex and gender operates in society.  I’m familiar with some of it.  They believe there is a patriarchy that permeates every level of society from the workplace to the home and that furthermore for whatever reason this is problematic.  I’m not sold on it and disagree with a lot of it such as their stance on objectification but will continue to respect because of a friend.  

In any case, given the original link, none of these people are smarter than you and if they were would they be helping you?  We can discover life for ourselves.

Monday, June 18, 2012

No Paraíso: Child Prostitution in Brazil


How Brazil Is Becoming a Top Destination for Child Prostitution

Brazil is an exotic country of lush forests in the Amazon, stunning colonial establishments in the Northeast, and breathtaking beaches along the coastline of Rio de Janeiro.  But inside the nation lies many sights that are far from idyllic.  Brazil, a country of roughly 190 million inhabitants, has the largest income disparity in the world aside from Sierra Leone.  There are over 20 million destitute Brazilians and 40 million orphaned children.  Only 20,000 families rule Brazil.

Out of desperation, some Brazilian women have children with the specific intent of turning them into child prostitutes and drug dealers.  This shocking trend has led to a highly controversial push to sterilize impoverished Brazilian women, most of whom are afrodescendente (afro-descended) and indio (Amerindian), which may constitute genocide.  Since 1994, Roland Lavigne, a Brazilan congressman and physician, has pushed for the sterilization of poor women, especially those belonging to the Pataxo Ha-Ha-Hae tribe, a small indigenous group. Years later, Sonia Muniz, a Pataxo Ha-Ha-Hae Indian and mother of four, had her Fallopian tubes tied. “I didn't want to do it, they made me. They had my name on a list”, she told American journalist Michael Astor. While forced sterilization has reluctantly reduced the birth rates of poor Indigenous women, it still has not proven to be effective against preventing child prostitution.

One positive note is the refusal of Brazil signing The Anti-Prostitution Pledge, a mandate from the US government that NGOs receiving HIV funds adopt a pledge against the legalization of prostitution and sex trafficking. The pledge requires that no funds may be allocated to provide contraception and testing services to sex workers, with forty-percent being children.  However, the Brazilian government in turn created a very effective organic anti-AIDS campaign. The country's AIDS commissioner Pedro Chequer commented, “Sex workers are part of implementing our AIDS policy and deciding how to promote it. They are our partners. How could we ask prostitutes to take a position against themselves?”. As a result, Brazil has been praised as having one of the most successful anti-AIDS programs for sex workers by the United Nations.

Despite this triumph, Brazil has earned one of the worst reputations for child prostitution, second only to Thailand.  The Brazilian government finds the problem baffling and works relentlessly to eradicate the predicament, especially within the tourism industry.  As one can clearly see by now, Brazil is no paraíso.