Influential left-wing wacko Peter Singer, who has previously argued in favor of infanticide and bestiality, has been allowed to write a column for the New York Times. In a saner world that would make news, but there are so many lunatics, freaks, and monsters who’ve edged into the mainstream on the Left that people barely even seem to notice.
Setting that aside, HorseHumper McMurderbaby has actually written a column arguing for the extinction of the human race. My initial thought: You first, buddy.
Benatar also argues that human lives are, in general, much less good than we think they are. We spend most of our lives with unfulfilled desires, and the occasional satisfactions that are all most of us can achieve are insufficient to outweigh these prolonged negative states. If we think that this is a tolerable state of affairs it is because we are, in Benatar’s view, victims of the illusion of pollyannaism. This illusion may have evolved because it helped our ancestors survive, but it is an illusion nonetheless. If we could see our lives objectively, we would see that they are not something we should inflict on anyone.
Here is a thought experiment to test our attitudes to this view. Most thoughtful people are extremely concerned about climate change. Some stop eating meat, or flying abroad on vacation, in order to reduce their carbon footprint. But the people who will be most severely harmed by climate change have not yet been conceived. If there were to be no future generations, there would be much less for us to feel to guilty about.
…Of course, it would be impossible to get agreement on universal sterilization, but just imagine that we could. Then is there anything wrong with this scenario? Even if we take a less pessimistic view of human existence than Benatar, we could still defend it, because it makes us better off — for one thing, we can get rid of all that guilt about what we are doing to future generations — and it doesn’t make anyone worse off, because there won’t be anyone else to be worse off.
Is a world with people in it better than one without? Put aside what we do to other species — that’s a different issue. Let’s assume that the choice is between a world like ours and one with no sentient beings in it at all. And assume, too — here we have to get fictitious, as philosophers often do — that if we choose to bring about the world with no sentient beings at all, everyone will agree to do that. No one’s rights will be violated — at least, not the rights of any existing people. Can non-existent people have a right to come into existence?
I do think it would be wrong to choose the non-sentient universe. In my judgment, for most people, life is worth living. Even if that is not yet the case, I am enough of an optimist to believe that, should humans survive for another century or two, we will learn from our past mistakes and bring about a world in which there is far less suffering than there is now. But justifying that choice forces us to reconsider the deep issues with which I began. Is life worth living? Are the interests of a future child a reason for bringing that child into existence? And is the continuance of our species justifiable in the face of our knowledge that it will certainly bring suffering to innocent future human beings?
After reading that last paragraph, you might think Singer was weaseling his way back from the edge of the cliff and fudging a bit on whether he’d like to see human beings go the way of the Dodo. Unfortunately, you’d be incorrect, because Singer has explicitly said that he believes animals are sentient and hence, even if humans disappeared, there would still be sentient life on the planet,
Why am I prepared to restrict my campaign to the great apes? After all, the central thesis of my book, Animal Liberation, is that the principle which entitles us to regard all human beings as equal-the principle of equal consideration of interests-ought to be applied to all beings with interests. Because all beings capable of experiencing pleasure and pain have interests, this includes all mammals-indeed, all vertebrates, and many invertebrates too. I have not changed my views about extending this principle to all sentient beings, but I am attracted by the chance to extend basic rights beyond our own species right now.
Incidentally, just in case you’re wondering, yes, Singer is arguing there that manta rays, rats, and bullfrogs should be given all the legal rights and privileges of human beings.
So, just to recap: A guy who wants to give human rights to chickens, supports 7th trimester “abortions” and having sex with animals is writing in the most prestigious liberal paper in America about how we’d all be better off if the species died off. Welcome to modern liberalism.