Better to return whence we came

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I argue that David Benatar’s anti-natalism leads to pro-mortalism (the view that it is better to cease to exist) because the human predicament as he describes it is a fate worse than death. Thus, continued existence in such a predicament is not preferable to an exit from it. I revisit my earlier argument for the claim that Benatar’s (2006) asymmetry between pleasure and pain paved the way for pro-mortalism unless Epicureanism about death is ruled out. I reply to Benatar’s response to that argument. I then turn to Benatar’s (2017) characterization of the human predicament and suggest that that also leads to pro-mortalism. I respond to three arguments from Benatar that seek to block the move from our predicament to pro-mortalism. I conclude that if Benatar is right about the predicament we find ourselves in, it is better for most people to return whence they came.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-100
Number of pages16
JournalThe Journal of Value Inquiry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I am grateful to Nikk Effingham, Michael Rush, and Alastair Wilson for comments on an earlier draft of this paper. Many thanks also to the editors of this special issue - Oliver Hallich and Michael Hauskeller - for inviting me to write the paper and for their helpful comments on the penultimate version.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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