And bxz’s objections to the Asymmetry.

Commenter And bxz has pointed out a number of objections to the Asymmetry. Since there are a number of them and they are more developed than most objections to the Asymmetry, I thought I would write an entry discussing them instead of debating in comments (which I am trying not to do these days).

Claim:
1)The presence of pain is bad

Objections:

A) Pain is not inherently bad. Pain is but a state of mind, and because we can modulate our subjective experiences through practices of meditation, we can achieve a “happy” state of mind while in abject agony. One of the extreme examples of such practice manifests as self-immolation practiced by Buddhist monks (imagine burning alive without screaming and running around but meditating in jubilee). Ignoring the religious backdrop, this still shows that we are capable of changing our subjective experience of pain at will. Studies back this up.

Whether studies back this position up or not is not relevant, because this is not a scientific issue. I fully accept that the points stated may very well be true. I doubt that they are true, but it doesn’t really matter, because they do not prove that the presence of pain “not inherently bad.” What they prove is that the presence of pain combined with a certain practice can end up being not bad.

Let’s make an analogy. A guy gets stabbed. He’s taken to the hospital, they operate on him, save his life, and while doing so discover that he also has cancer. So they are able to remove the cancer early. The entire situation is, on the whole, a more desirable outcome than the guy eventually dying of cancer. Does that prove that stabbing people is good? No, it doesn’t. All it proves is that stabbing someone who has an undiscovered cancer might be a good thing, but the stabbing itself was still bad.

This is similar to the fallacy used by Absurd Being: to equate “the presence of pain is bad” with “the presence of pain, and badness, are synonymous.” These two statements are wholly different. The fact that a situation involves pain does not thereby prove that it is necessarily bad, if other elements or principles are also part of the situation (like the perennial example, a visit to the dentist). The Asymmetry does not imply that the presence of pain is synonymous with badness.

B) You say: “If your two options going into a long and painful operation is to bite a literal bullet or get anesthetized, which would you choose? Unless you are an inveterate masochist, the pain of the operation is not what you seek.” This justifies masochists as an exception to Benatar’s argument because suffering is a boon for them, hence better than not existing. I think this means that the logically consistent position isn’t antinatalism, but anti-non-masochism.

The point was not to make masochism part of the logic of the argument, but if you’re going to do this, then you ought to do it right and know what you’re talking about. First of all, being a masochist is not something we choose, it’s not like we can decide to be masochists tomorrow and seek out pain. Secondly, masochists do not respond positively to all pain. Sexual masochism, for example, is an expression of giving away control of one’s body to another person. A person can be a sexual masochist and still feel bad about stubbing their toe. Thirdly, there is a threshold of pain, in any kind of pain, beyond which even masochists cannot deal with.

So to say that the Asymmetry leads to “anti-non-masochism” (which I presume means: being against people who are not masochists or who don’t want to be masochists) is to ignore the reality of masochism and how masochists relate to pain. Yes, a masochist might experience pleasure at experiencing a long and painful operation. This does not therefore prove that pain is not bad. All it proves is that some people, in certain contexts, can ignore the badness of the pain.

Again, this is an argument pretty similar to the previous one: the fact that some people are masochists in certain contexts does not prove that the pain itself is not bad, it proves that, for some people, bodily or psychological reactions can compensate for that badness. But if you’re going to go down that route, why not argue that the Asymmetry proves that we should all have congenital insensitivity to pain? But, again, we don’t.

C) There are many other ways to get around pain.
1) Drugs (painkillers, MJ, LSD, etc.)
2) Cut off our part of the brain that is responsible for pain and suffering.
3) Genetic modification of human life to create negative emotion-free and pain-free organisms.
4) The future wonder drug that puts benefits of meditation on a pill
(Many of these are out there, but I’m just spitballing alternatives to preferring non-existence)

We already use painkillers, but they don’t change the fact that suffering is bad. As for cutting off the sensation of pain, congenital insensitivity to pain has shown us why that’s a terrible idea: pain is a signal our body needs in order to react to damage, and people who don’t feel pain also tend to die young precisely because of that.

Is it possible to imagine a world where we can safely eliminate suffering? Sure. And that would probably trivialize the Asymmetry as an argument. But we do not live in such a world. The fact that we can imagine living in such a world in the future does not mean it’s possible, let alone that it proves we should keep procreating in the meantime. The suffering of people born right now is more real than an imaginary world.

Claim:
3)The absence of pain is good even if that good is not enjoyed by anyone,

Objections
A) Not if pain itself can be good or mitigated altogether, see objections to claim 1
B) This at least seemingly contradicts premise #4. You say: “The absence of pleasure is not bad unless there is somebody for whom that absence is a deprivation.” A corollary of #4 is that non-existing beings do not suffer the absence of pleasure. #4 is logically true because people that do not exist cannot mourn not having ice cream (a non-existing ‘fetus’ person says, “it is bad that I do not get to enjoy ice cream”). In other words, (Statement 1) No one is actually suffering, so it isn’t immoral. Yet in premise #3 you say: “The absence of pain is good even if that good is not enjoyed by anyone.” In other words, you are saying that despite the fact that (Statement 2) No one is actually soothed, but it’s good. How can both of those statements be true at the same time? You dismiss the morality of discussing non-existing human’s suffering based on their non-existence; yet ascribe morality to the pleasure of non-existence. It’s like you imagine non-existing beings enjoying the fact that they aren’t suffering (saying, “it is good that we do not suffer since we do not exist”) and then scoff at people who imagine non-existent fetuses being condemned to the “equivalent of deliberately starving children.”

This is a mess. I have never argued for any attributes of non-existence, because non-existence has no properties. The statement:
(3) The absence of pain is good even if that good is not enjoyed by anyone.
clearly and directly excludes the position that it is about the absence of pain being enjoyed. That’s what the “even if that good is not enjoyed by anyone” part means. So no, it’s not like I “imagine non-existing beings enjoying the fact that they aren’t suffering.” There is no such thing as non-existing beings, and no such chimera is necessary to understand (3). All that (3) means is this: in the case that a hypothetical person X does not exist, the fact that there is some pain absent from that scenario is a good thing, and it is a good thing apart from any subjective experience. Likewise, the absence of pleasure is not a bad thing, apart from any subjective experience.

The last point in the comment was the old “why don’t you kill yourself,” which I’ve already discussed, so I see no point in going through that again. The general point here is that antinatalists are against procreation, the creation of new lives, not the end of existing lives. People who are living also have desires and values which would be frustrated by their death, and we all, as individuals, evaluate whether our future suffering is worth tolerating in order to fulfill those desires and values. Most people arrive at the conclusion that it is worth tolerating, and therefore they don’t kill themselves. Whether each person is correct about that evaluation is their own business.

17 thoughts on “And bxz’s objections to the Asymmetry.

  1. And bxz April 17, 2018 at 20:37 Reply

    Hey, thank you so much for this post. I have more questions and objections, but I understand that you are not interested in debating. I will take the liberty to post my complaints in the comment section, but I would understand if you do not have the time or the interest in engaging with me further. Regardless, again thank you.

    On 1A— Meditation

    Putting the validity of whether or not meditation can be used to modulate the subjective experience of pain to side, you object to my reasoning that pain is not inherently wrong by arguing all my argument proves is that “presence of pain combined with a certain practice can end up being not bad.”

    Objections

    The analogy you provided was enlightening in explaining what you mean; however, I think that it is a bit malformed. In the analogy, what exactly is meditation? Is meditation removing cancer early, preventing him from dying later? Is pain equivalent to getting stabbed? Meditation seems to be missing in this analogy. If you mean to say that the operation is equivalent to meditation, I’ll explain below why I think that is wrong. And if you intend to say pain is comparable to getting stabbed, I also disagree there.

    i. In my eyes, the analogy doesn’t answer my meditation argument because it seems to argue against consequentialism (the idea that x is good if it leads to a desirable outcome). Meditation, flips this on its head, the notion of desirability fades in the face of proper mindfulness because one ceases considering what “should” be. Through meditation, you become content with what “is.” Consider this analogy: a man is stabbed and is now bleeding out on the floor, in a lot of physical pain and suffering and is going to die. The man can make two choices: 1) reject the pain and suffer till he dies, or 2) give in to the pain, accept it and not suffer. The former is the traditional biological response, and the latter achieved through mediation. The meditation I am talking about is not a normative process like a medical procedure wherein we can lengthen our lifespan or reduce stress (although it probably can), it is a process of reorienting the image of “self.” This reorientation exposes the self as an illusion and with that disarms all kinds of misconceptions of which include our interpretation of pain. I’m not going to go too deeply into what mediation is because for the sake of argument you already granted to me the validity of my argument that meditation can neutralize our natural aversion to pain.

    ii. We detect pain as a physical, biological response to stimuli, in a vacuum, I think that it is morally neutral because we can imagine a being that has our capacity for feeling pain but does not have the “consciousness” to relate to said pain positively, negatively, or apathetically. My interpretation is that pain in combination with an aversion to pain is bad, whereas pain in combination with an affinity to pain is good. Pain by itself is morally neutral. From this perspective, we see what is bad is not pain itself but the aversion to pain. In other words, it is not a question of the pain we face, but a matter of how we relate to said pain. In regards to how we relate to pain, this would mean that the biological/natural response to stimuli as pain is bad, not the stimuli or the experience of pain itself. In the example of a guy getting stabbed, the stabbing can still be bad (for different reasons), but the pain of being stabbed need not be bad as well. Putting concerns about dying on the side, pain resulting from a stabbing is the only thing here typical interpreted as bad, but it ceases to be so in two conditions: if the victim is masterful in meditation or if the victim is a masochist that likes getting stabbed. One exception to the premise pain is bad is enough to prove premise one as false.

    On Absurd Being’s Fallacy

    Sorry, I don’t quite comprehend what you mean here. This sentence seems to contradict premise one as well. You say: “The Asymmetry does not imply that the presence of pain is synonymous with badness.” But premise 1 is: “The presence of pain is bad.” I don’t mean this point as a gotcha. It may very well simply be the janky-ness of English in action. Regardless, I don’t “equate ‘the presence of pain is bad’ with ‘the presence of pain, and badness, are synonymous,’” in fact, I think that is my very point with meditation.

    On 1B— Masochism

    On misconceptions

    1) “First of all, being a masochist is not something we choose, it’s not like we can decide to be masochists tomorrow and seek out pain. “

    I didn’t claim that we can choose to be masochists, only that all life that is not wholly masochistic are unethical under your argument. Entirely masochistic lifeforms themselves are the exception because for them all pain is good.

    2) “Secondly, masochists do not respond positively to all pain… Thirdly, there is a threshold of pain, in any pain, beyond which even masochists cannot deal with.”

    Granted, the traditional, or typical masochist does not respond positively to all pain. I apologize for choosing not to be clear in my argument and leaning too much on the principle of charitability. When I talked about masochists in my comment, I meant wholly masochistic lifeforms. By wholly, I mean absolutely. I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to imagine of a lifeform that is completely masochistic. The wholly masochistic being would also not have threshold wherein they would stop being masochistic (they would probably die, but I’ll be defending death below).

    3) “Yes, a masochist might experience pleasure at experiencing a long and painful operation. This does not, therefore, prove that pain is not bad. All it proves is that some people, in certain contexts, can ignore the badness of the pain… the fact that some people are masochists in certain contexts does not prove that the pain itself is not bad, it proves that, for some people, bodily or psychological reactions can compensate for that badness.”

    From here I invoke an argument from the 1A: pain is neutral, what is wrong is the aversion to pain. The lack of that aversion is at least morally neutral, but an affinity to pain is good. I object to the phrasing “ignore the badness of the pain.” In the context of a sexual masochist, we wouldn’t equate getting slapped in the rear and enjoying it to merely “ignoring the badness of the pain.” The pain in this context becomes good. In the same vein, I object to the phrasing of “compensate for that badness.” In this context, badness is not circumvented like in my meditation example but more so flipped entirely.

    4) ” But if you’re going to go down that route, why not argue that the Asymmetry proves that we should all have congenital insensitivity to pain? But, again, we don’t.”

    Yea I make a similar point on 1C. In the context of genetic modification and wonder drugs

    On 1C— Alternatives

    “We already use painkillers, but they don’t change the fact that suffering is bad.”

    For the sake of brevity, I’ll concede this point.

    “As for cutting off the sensation of pain, congenital insensitivity to pain has shown us why that’s a terrible idea: pain is a signal our body needs to react to damage, and people who don’t feel pain also tend to die young precisely because of that.”

    A) If your single objection to congenital insensitivity is that you might die young, how do you conclude that dying young is bad? For the sake of argument, I’ll defend that death is a part of life and that fearing to “live” for the preservation of life undermines the things that can bring us joy while we are alive. From my perspective, death is a part of life and is not inherently wrong; I think dying is morally neutral. I’m in favor of people killing themselves if they want to, and I advocate for killing in particular instances, as I’m sure you do as well (e.g., in the event of self-defense).
    B) Regardless, It is entirely possible to have a very safe environment that curtails the natural dangers of congenital insensitivity.
    C) Regardless, this only answers one-half of my imagined lifeform. Putting congenital insensitivity aside, being free of all harmful emotions would include suffering. Suffering is the only thing that makes pain morally wrong. If I were to punch you (not too hard) on your arm, it might sting, you will feel some pain, but you won’t suffer, in fact, that might be a bonding ritual between us if we were siblings. I think this further elucidates that your quarrel isn’t with pain itself but how we relate to pain. Suffering is but an emotional state a being that is utterly wholly emotionless is capable of recognizing pain as a physical response while simultaneously being able to not dwell on it perhaps all pain could become subjectively comparable to a minor thirst.

    “Is it possible to imagine a world where we can safely eliminate suffering? Sure […] [but] the suffering of people born right now is more real than an imaginary world.”

    I disagree, firstly, I don’t think genetic modification is sci-fi, within the next 100 years it is guaranteed. In fact, we are engaging in genetic modification today, not just in animals and plants but for humans too.

    http://annualmeeting.asgct.org/about_gene_therapy/diseases.php
    Regardless, I think the opposite is correct, all the pain we have suffered will be for nothing if we don’t conquer suffering, in the end. And with human ingenuity, the sky’s the limit, who is to say that we cannot time travel to the past and stop all the suffering of all humans? Surely, if the human species were to become galactic in scale, the lives of trillions of perfect humans in the future outweigh the suffering of us today.

    On 3B—Non-existence and good

    “This is a mess. I have never argued for any attributes of non-existence, because non-existence has no properties. The statement:
    (3) The absence of pain is good even if that good is not enjoyed by anyone.
    clearly and directly excludes the position that it is about the absence of pain being enjoyed. That’s what the “even if that good is not enjoyed by anyone” part means. So no, it’s not like I “imagine non-existing beings enjoying the fact that they aren’t suffering.” There is no such thing as non-existing beings, and no such chimera is necessary to understand (3). All that (3) means is this: in the case that a hypothetical person X does not exist, the fact that there is some pain absent from that scenario is a good thing, and it is a good thing apart from any subjective experience. Likewise, the absence of pleasure is not a bad thing, apart from any subjective experience.”

    I don’t think that you think that non-existent beings are enjoying the fact they aren’t suffering. My point is that your argument to be valid necessitates that such entities. Perhaps, I could have said my point clearer, but regardless I think your response illustrates a fault in reasoning. On the one hand, you claim: “non-existence has no properties.” If I were to argue, the absence of pleasure is bad you would respond to me, “False. Non-existence has no properties.” On the other hand, you turn around and say: “the fact that there is some pain absent from that scenario is a good thing, and it is a good thing apart from any subjective experience.” In this instance you ascribed morality to non-existence, you are giving non-existence the property of “good.” If non-existence has no properties, then not only can a lack of pleasure not be bad, but also a lack of pain cannot be good. Without a form of sentience existing to make a value-judgment in a world lacking pain, we cannot claim that such world is “good”; only the non-existing beings that enjoy not suffering could make that call. In other words, I think you are begging the question, because implicit in P3 is the assumption that things can be good irrespective of any subjective experiences. Under my interpretation, only subjects can interpret whether something is good or bad because good or bad is always relative to subjects. What is your evidence for the assumption implicit in P3 that there exists morality outside of subjects? What is morality in a world of only rocks? I think you agree with me that there is none. Otherwise, you wouldn’t conclude that absence of pleasure of non-existent beings is not bad, by reasoning that non-existence has no properties. Put it another way, you, on the one hand, dismiss morality outside subjective experience, and on the other hand, ascribe morality outside subjective experience. These two statements are logically inconsistent, and a contradiction from where I am standing.

    On Why don’t you kill yourself—

    My point of the question was that any answer in my eyes is enough to justify reproduction. I looked at the post you linked, and I think it confirmed my suspicion.

    “I do not wish to kill myself because I have a vested interest (because of my values, desires, etc) in staying alive.”

    My interpretation of that statement is that you have weighed your suffering against your values and desires and you have come to the conclusion that those reasons are worth suffering. Why can’t potential life come to that same conclusion, just like you and I have?

    “but a potential life has no such vested interest. In fact, it has no interests at all, since it doesn’t exist.”
    “Abortion is ethically right because no human being will exist that will suffer.”

    The last point I want to make is a reiteration of the what I have interpreted as a contradiction in your philosophy. You claim that potential life has no interest, yet at the same time implicit in the second statement, you assume that abortion is ethically right because you avoid potential suffering. This assumption to me is a part of similar contradiction because, on the one hand, you disavow potential interest, because it “does not exist”; yet avow potential suffering, despite it not being realized. Either a) both potential interests and potential suffering do not exist, or b) both exist, regardless it results in either a) reproduction is morally neutral or b) potential interests can be weighed against potential suffering to determine whether or not reproduction is morally sound. Both disprove antinatalism because under a) reproduction is neither good or bad and under b) reproduction wherein potential interests outweigh potential suffering is good (invalidating the claim that all reproduction is immoral).

    • Francois Tremblay April 18, 2018 at 00:38 Reply

      I don’t understand how you’re getting so contorted and confused from my response. Your answers are not only overlong, but fail to address any single point I’ve raised. You do not refute the fact that your meditation scenario is one of “presence of pain combined with a certain practice can end up being not bad.” I have no idea why you’re going on about “wholly masochistic beings” and hypothetical down-the-line scenarios. You keep confusing a state of affairs with statements about non-existence.

      “On the other hand, you turn around and say: “the fact that there is some pain absent from that scenario is a good thing, and it is a good thing apart from any subjective experience.” In this instance you ascribed morality to non-existence, you are giving non-existence the property of “good.”

      These two sentences demonstrate you didn’t understand anything I said at all. The STATE OF AFFAIRS does not include, and cannot include, “non-existence.” A STATE OF AFFAIRS can only include things that exist. A state of affairs where there is less suffering, with all other things being equal, is a good thing. How do you not get this?

      And you don’t even understand the difference between starting a new life and continuing an already-existing life! That’s one of the most basic antinatalist concepts. I’m not going to engage with you if you are this ignorant.

      • And bxz April 18, 2018 at 09:59 Reply

        It is unfortunate that our cordial exchange has diminished to just ad hominins. It is regrettable that my responses have been long—despite the fact that any attempt to answer all your points necessitates a lengthy response. Regardless, for the sake of brevity and merely as an attempt on my part to genuinely understand your position, I’ll reiterate my core objections and asks two questions of which I genuinely do not understand your answer. I am hoping that my re-wording or expansion of my argument will perhaps make something in your head go, “oh this is what he means.” That is not to say that I hope you agree with me, I hope that you at least don’t consider me to be a hopeless ignorant idiot and that perhaps you can enlighten me.

        “You do not refute the fact that your meditation scenario is one of ‘presence of pain combined with a certain practice can end up being not bad.’”

        I disagree, I refute that claim with the following because implicit to your arguments is the premise that pain is inherently wrong, which I don’t think has yet to be proven.

        “ii. We detect pain as a physical, biological response to stimuli, in a vacuum, I think that it is morally neutral because we can imagine a being that has our capacity for feeling pain but does not have the “consciousness” to relate to said pain positively, negatively, or apathetically. My interpretation is that pain in combination with an aversion to pain is bad, whereas pain in combination with an affinity to pain is good. Pain by itself is morally neutral. From this perspective, we see what is bad is not pain itself but the aversion to pain. In other words, it is not a question of the pain we face, but a matter of how we relate to said pain. Regarding how we relate to pain, this would mean that the biological/natural response to stimuli as pain is bad, not the stimuli or the experience of pain itself. In the example of a guy getting stabbed, the stabbing can still be bad (for different reasons), but the pain of being stabbed need not be bad as well. Putting concerns about dying on the side, pain resulting from a stabbing is the only thing here typically interpreted as bad, but it ceases to be so in two conditions: if the victim is masterful in meditation or if the victim is a masochist that likes getting stabbed. One exception to the premise pain is bad is enough to prove premise one as false.”

        I think the onus is on you to prove that pain is necessarily wrong. My argument merely points out that it is morally neutral, your response doesn’t refute what I stated. Even if you think my argument is not good, I’m not the one making a positive claim on pain. I am defending the default position that pain is morally neutral. And I think your dismissal of hypotheticals is problematic because hypotheticals are a vital intellectual tool, I won’t go into it for brevity’s sake, but here are two links.

        Hypotheticals in General
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypotheticals
        Hypotheticals in Law
        http://lsolum.typepad.com/legal_theory_lexicon/law_school_pedagogy/

        What is your proof that pain is wrong?

        On Non-existence—

        I think we are talking past each other; I do not believe that you believe that non-existence has attributes. I am merely arguing that your argument necessitates that statement to be true because I claim that to make sense of your case we will need a hidden premise that requires that non-existence has attributes in specific instances.

        “A state of affairs where there is less suffering, with all other things being equal, is a good thing.”

        I object to that statement. I think you are begging the question, why is less suffering a “good thing” in a vacuum. Less pain is only good in the context of sentient life making a judgment. That is my position.

        “And you don’t even understand the difference between starting a new life and continuing an already-existing life!”

        That isn’t my argument; I don’t conflate the two. Perhaps this syllogism (my interpretation of your case) will show you my core objection to your argument.

        P1: Good and bad are both properties.
        P2: X has properties if and only if X exists. (X = something/anything)
        A corollary to P2: To not exist is not to have properties.
        P3: Potential good (pleasure of future beings, e.g., aborted babies) does not exist.
        C1 (from P1, P2 & P3): Absence of potential good is not bad, because bad is a property (P1), non-existing things have no properties (P2), and potential good does not exist (P3).
        C2 (from nowhere, requiring a hiding premise): Absence of potential bad (suffering of future beings) is good…[WHY???]

        If good is a property, and if potential bad can only have properties if and only if potential bad exists, and if potential bad does not exist, how can we say absence of potential bad is good? In other words, if P3 is true, it follows that potential bad also does not exist, invalidating C2, which is the solution (a) to the Dilemma I presented or P3 and C1 are false, which is the solution (b) in the Dilemma introduced. Both (a) and (b) invalidate Asymmetry because reproduction becomes morally neutral in the case of (a) or morally good in specific instances wherein potential good outweighs the potential bad in the case of (b).

        If this doesn’t clear up my objection, then just answer me this question: What proves that the non-existence of pain is good?

        • Francois Tremblay April 18, 2018 at 15:34 Reply

          “What is your proof that pain is wrong?”
          We consider pain as undesirable for biological reasons. We are all programmed to escape it.

          “What proves that the non-existence of pain is good?”
          No one said it was. What the argument says is that a state of affairs where there is less pain than in another is the better state of affairs.

          • And bxz April 18, 2018 at 16:16 Reply

            First question: so pain is not wrong or bad only traditionally undesirable for biological reasons. I agree.

            Second question: The answer begs the question, how do you determine better in that context and what is your basis.

            Thank you.

            • Francois Tremblay April 18, 2018 at 16:27 Reply

              “First question: so pain is not wrong or bad only traditionally undesirable for biological reasons. I agree.”

              What the fuck do you think “bad” means? It means undesirable. Saying pain is undesirable means you’re agreeing that pain is bad.

              “Second question: The answer begs the question, how do you determine better in that context and what is your basis.”

              Because a situation where there is more pain is less desirable than a situation where there is less pain.

              • And bxz April 18, 2018 at 17:02 Reply

                Srry posted it in the wrong place, I moved from phone to computer, my bad…

                First Question: Bad (at least morally) is not the same as undesirable. For example, not stealing for a thief may be undesirable but we would not say not stealing is bad.

                Second Question: I want to step back a bit to show you what you said and you tell me if you don’t spot a contradiction.

                Reply to my first comment:

                I asked, “What proves that the non-existence of pain is good?”
                You answered, “no one said it was […]”

                In the Benatar’s Asymmetry post you made (which is what I based my objections on) you wrote, as premise three:

                “3)[The absence of pain is good] even if that good is not enjoyed by anyone” (Brackets added)

                *Brackets added

                Does this mean that we both agree that P3 of Asymmetry argument is false? I interpret non-existence of pain to be the same as absence of pain.

                Benatar’s Asymmetry
                https://web.archive.org/web/20180112215842/https://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/benatars-asymmetry/

  2. And bxz April 18, 2018 at 17:01 Reply

    First Question: Bad (at least morally) is not the same as undesirable. For example, not stealing for a thief may be undesirable but we would not say not stealing is bad.

    Second Question: I want to step back a bit to show you what you said and you tell me if you don’t spot a contradiction.

    Reply to my first comment:

    I asked, “What proves that the non-existence of pain is good?”
    You answered, “no one said it was […]”

    In the Benatar’s Asymmetry post you made (which is what I based my objections on) you wrote, as premise three:

    “3)[The absence of pain is good] even if that good is not enjoyed by anyone” (Brackets added)

    *Brackets added

    Does this mean that we both agree that P3 of Asymmetry argument is false? I interpret non-existence of pain to be the same as absence of pain.

    Benatar’s Asymmetry
    https://web.archive.org/web/20180112215842/https://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/benatars-asymmetry/

    • Francois Tremblay April 18, 2018 at 17:40 Reply

      “First Question: Bad (at least morally) is not the same as undesirable. For example, not stealing for a thief may be undesirable but we would not say not stealing is bad.”

      Technically, you can’t attribute morality to a category of actions, unless that category includes immorality by definition. So no, that’s not a good example. You haven’t rebutted anything.

      “Second Question: I want to step back a bit to show you what you said and you tell me if you don’t spot a contradiction.

      Reply to my first comment:

      I asked, “What proves that the non-existence of pain is good?”
      You answered, “no one said it was […]”

      In the Benatar’s Asymmetry post you made (which is what I based my objections on) you wrote, as premise three:

      “3)[The absence of pain is good] even if that good is not enjoyed by anyone” (Brackets added)

      *Brackets added

      Does this mean that we both agree that P3 of Asymmetry argument is false? I interpret non-existence of pain to be the same as absence of pain.”

      No, we do not agree. (3) is about a comparison between two states of affairs, which both exist. Your statement did not involve any comparison, and instead tried to pin morality on something that doesn’t exist. Which, as I’ve told you many times already, is nonsense.

      • And bxz April 18, 2018 at 18:57 Reply

        I don’t get your objection to the example provided on the first question, but put that aside. You don’t see the following statements as contradictory?

        I asked, “What proves that the non-existence of pain is good?”
        You answered, “no one said it was […]”

        I’m assuming that you then mean that the claim “non-existence of pain is good” is false. Correct me if I am wrong in that assertion.

        P3: “The absence of pain is good […]”

        I assume that the word absence, in this case, means “non-existence or lack of” (3rd definition defined from google, 1st in Merriam-Webster, 2nd in dictionary.com, 3rd in oxford– all other definitions don’t seem to apply in this discussion). If non-existence and absence refers to the same thing, how are you not contradicting yourself in saying that the claim “absence of pain is good” is true and that the claim “non-existence of pain is good” is false?

        Sources for defining absence–
        https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS722US722&ei=9PTXWqe3O5Gf_QbGtLLQBA&q=define+absence&oq=define+absence&gs_l=psy-ab.3..35i39k1j0i20i263k1j0l2j0i22i30k1l6.1144.1144.0.1370.1.1.0.0.0.0.83.83.1.1.0….0…1c.1.64.psy-ab..0.1.83….0.HK0JkP9m5G0
        https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/absence
        http://www.dictionary.com/browse/absence
        https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/absence

        • Francois Tremblay April 18, 2018 at 19:22 Reply

          I already explained this to you. Read my previous comment.

          • And bxz April 18, 2018 at 19:44 Reply

            Well I asked a different question from what I originally asked. Regardless, please humor me: how are you not contradicting yourself in saying that the claim “absence of pain is good” is true and that the claim “non-existence of pain is good” is false (assuming absence and non-existence are the same thing)?

            Assuming common parlance and assuming that these two statements are not straw-men, your position seems to me to be in conflict with your premise.

            I feel like this is near the end, wherein my confusion will be lifted. Please explain.

            • Francois Tremblay April 18, 2018 at 19:46 Reply

              Okay, one last time:

              “Second Question: I want to step back a bit to show you what you said and you tell me if you don’t spot a contradiction.

              Reply to my first comment:

              I asked, “What proves that the non-existence of pain is good?”
              You answered, “no one said it was […]”

              In the Benatar’s Asymmetry post you made (which is what I based my objections on) you wrote, as premise three:

              “3)[The absence of pain is good] even if that good is not enjoyed by anyone” (Brackets added)

              *Brackets added

              Does this mean that we both agree that P3 of Asymmetry argument is false? I interpret non-existence of pain to be the same as absence of pain.”

              No, we do not agree. (3) is about a comparison between two states of affairs, which both exist. Your statement did not involve any comparison, and instead tried to pin morality on something that doesn’t exist. Which, as I’ve told you many times already, is nonsense.

  3. And bxz April 18, 2018 at 21:01 Reply

    We almost arrived at our destination… :( well I guess I’ll settle on just reaching your moral bedrock. Thanks for the journey, despite its failings, I’ve enjoyed this conversation.

    However, if I don’t ask the following, I think I’ll regret not doing so. Despite the fact that it seems that we cannot help ourselves from speaking past each other, I still have this nagging hope that we might actually meet and come to understand each other (not necessarily to adopt a new position). So I will ask: why do you refuse to answer my question directly, for the sake of clarity? Why do you insist on the same answer you provided to a different question? Why can’t you, for the sake of making what you mean clear to me, at least attempt to rephrase?

    I know that perhaps you have other matters to attend to and I won’t fault you for not answering me because of that fact; however, you have been spending hours conversing with me so far. To me that means that perhaps you do care about conveying your truth to me; yet, you seem wholly uninterested in that in your last post. If you aren’t don’t bother replying, then we can move our separate paths; this fruitless interaction can end. If you are interested, then answer my question honestly, directly and clearly. Anything aside from that is a waste of both our times and a petty attempt to get the last word in (I will not try to beat you at that game). Thank you.

    • Francois Tremblay April 18, 2018 at 21:09 Reply

      What different question? You keep asking the same question over and over that I’ve already answered. The only possible conclusion is that you’re trying to waste my time. Is that correct?
      If not, why don’t you try asking a different question. Otherwise I’ll just ban your ass.

      • And bxz April 18, 2018 at 21:47 Reply

        Wait… you honestly can’t tell the difference between the following questions (you think they are all the same)?

        “Does this mean that we both agree that P3 of Asymmetry argument is false? ”

        “How are you not contradicting yourself in saying that the claim “absence of pain is good” is true and that the claim “non-existence of pain is good” is false (assuming absence and non-existence are the same thing)?”

        If you are telling me that these questions are the same, I’ll just have to conclude that you are being either a) intellectually dishonest (you see the difference but pretend not to), b) intellectually lazy (you assume I’m saying the same thing over and over again because you are not actually reading what I’m writting), or c) linguistically inept (you actually believe these questions are all the same). I’m betting on (a). But just in case (c) is the case, note that each question uses different interrogative words, different subjects, etc. Do I really have to go on?

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