Yes, it’s time to look at another piece of bullshit from our resident natalist stooge Bryan Caplan. Sadly, this time around, his arguments are not original: he’s already repeated an argument from one of his past entries, which I demolished here, namely the hedonistic adaptation argument (which should be properly called hedonistic delusion), but he repeats it twice to form two of his three points. Here is the repeat:
Almost everyone’s behavior confirms that they’re glad to be alive. After all, no mobile adult needs to be miserable for long. Tall buildings and other routes to painless suicide are all around us; in economic jargon, life is a good with virtually “free disposal.” Yet suicide is incredibly rare nonetheless.
But this is merely an extension of the argument from hedonistic adaptation, which is basically the argument that we’re born insane, therefore being insane is sane and being sane is insane. Again Caplan is using insanity as an argument. Of course people are not programmed to feel bad about life and kill themselves, since suicide is an evolutionary disadvantage. That has nothing to do with the facts of life.
Now, his third point:
You might say that it’s wrong to create people unless they (impossibly) consent beforehand. But you could just as easily say that it’s OK to create people unless they (impossibly) refuse consent beforehand.
What the fuck is “refusing consent”? Did Caplan just make it up for the sake of his stupid argument? Since when is “refusing consent” a criterion for the validity of anything? Consent is the criteron, not “refusing consent.” You are not allowed to do things to people unless they “refuse consent.” You are only allowed to do things to people when they consent.
Caplan’s use of the term sounds suspiciously like men’s rape rhetoric. “She didn’t refuse consent, so it wasn’t really rape!”
The reasonable view, however, spurns both stacked decks – and notices that this is an ideal time to to invoke hypothetical consent. It’s OK to create people as long as they would consent beforehand. How can you know? You can’t be sure, but arguments #1 and #2 show that almost everyone would consent if they could. That’s good enough.
But since #1 and #2 are both points about hedonistic adaptation, and hedonistic adaptation is a non-argument (rather, an admission of insanity), the whole thing collapses anyway. Beyond that, Caplan seems to believe in the “consent without consent” which Chomsky points out is the modus operandi of neo-liberalism. Why is this not surprising? If we can justify shooting people in the head in foreign countries in the name of hypothetical consent, why not justify inflicting harm on new human beings in the name of hypothetical consent? As such, Caplan’s position is perfectly in line with the philosophy of the power elite.
Following Caplan’s “logic,” kidnapping is justified, if it elicits Stockholm Syndrome, beating your child is okay, as long as he buys the “I turned out okay” rhetoric later in life, and cult brainwaswhing is not a problem at all. Caplan truly is, and I say that completely honestly, a complete dick. “Hypothetical consent”? Get outta here.
Note: If you flatly reject the concept of hypothetical consent, you have to condemn Good Samaritans for saving the lives of unconscious strangers.
Caplan here seems to conflate inflicting harm on someone with saving people’s lives. This leads me to believe that he wrote this as a way to confuse the readers who might otherwise disagree with his “argument.” How anyone could equate a situation where one saves someone’s life with inflicting harm on someone is beyond me.
Of course we should save the life of a stranger, because we naturally assume that most people are interested in living (hedonistic delusion, and all that). If that person then declared an intention to kill themselves, then any further help should be condemned. On the other hand, we should expect a potential person, if held to the standard of the Original Position argument, not to want to be brought to life, because being brought to life means to receive harm (under the form of innumerable possibilities of harmful or lethal risks) without any corresponding benefit (since non-existing people cannot be deprived of anything). Of course I have pointed that out in my first entry against Caplan as well.
It is a clear and obvious equation which natalists will always deny because it shows the bankruptcy of their position. So they have to attack us with nonsense like “you believe life is all suffering” or “you don’t take the pleasures of life into account.” I have never said such nonsense, but natalists keep repeating the belief that I said it, because it’s the only way they can protect their belief system.
What is most stunning about Caplan’s new piece of bullshit is his insufferable arrogance.
I expect that anti-natalists will feel unfairly dismissed by my not-so-subtle arguments. But I insist that my arguments are more than satisfactory. Anti-natalism is so absurd…
As a rule, I do not respond to positions that are neither plausible nor popular.
Did you get that, now? Caplan suffers from the insanity of hedonistic adaptation, so to him the position of antinatalism is not plausible. Therefore, antinatalism is not plausible. Caplan is the final word on the plausibility of everything. And his arguments from insanity are “more than satisfactory.”
To Caplan, the view that life contains suffering and that it is wrong to impose suffering is “absurd.” To me, it should be obvious to any moral person.
To Caplan, the view that most of us, even people living in dire life situations, are happy with our existence and do not kill themselves, which supposedly proves that their lives are worth living (such as, as I pointed out in my past entry, the fact that black slaves killed themselves far less often than their white masters must therefore “prove” that black slaves’ lives were more worth living than that of their masters), is “satisfactory.” To me, this view is absolutely insane in its refusal to look at the truth beyond one’s own nose. The fact that your brain is made to feel good does not create any fact about the outside world. Reality is what it is.
Christianity, capitalism, democracy, natalism… Why is it that when you dig into these lunatic beliefs, you always discover a rich vein of subjectivism? I guess Ayn Rand was right about something.