Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Steven Pinker on Why your Suffering doesn't Matter

Steven Pinker, author of a recent tome entitled The Better Angels of our Nature which attempts to prove the world is becoming less violent, offers the following observations. The comments immediately after are by Bazompora, whom I thank for putting me on to this.

"If one focuses on absolute numbers, one ends up with moral absurdities such as these: (a) it’s better to reduce the size of a population by half and keep the rates of rape and murder the same than to reduce the rates of rape and murder by a third; (b) even if a society’s practices were static, so that its rates of war and violence don’t change, its people would be worse and worse off as the population grows, because a greater absolute number of them would suffer; (c) every child brought into the world is a moral evil, because there is a nonzero probability that he or she will be a victim of violence."

Quite unambiguously, this Steven Pinker understands the antinatalist conclusions, only to dismiss them out of hand and in favor of his utilitarian abstraction in which the individual doesn't count.

It must offer quite a privilege, to have the good life reserved for oneself, as well as the authority to be stoic on behalf of all the bad lives.

Karl: So there we have it, Steven Pinker, lauded by the deluded mandarins of academia, thinks it a moral absurdity to worry about exposing a person to the risk of violence and suffering.

Or as La Rochefoucauld put it: 'We all have strength enough to endure the suffering of others'.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

A Conversation overheard in Paris

I was in a restaurant in Paris last week. Two Americans came in and sat down next to me. After a while, the woman, whom I gathered was the editor of an 'Americans in Paris' lifestyle magazine, started talking about what a 'shame' and 'disgrace' it was that there weren't enough incentives for the poor to sterilise themselves. They expressed 'horror' at the failure of 'our society' to act in such a vital matter. I began to feel nostalgic for the USSR....

The man, whom I gathered worked for Forbes Magazine, ardently agreed with her. Both had previously identified themselves as Libertarians and there was a grim pleasure in listening to them desperately trying to dream up enough carrots for the poor to get the snip/drink the bleach of their own free-will, so that the authorities could claim it was all an act of 'autonomy'. Of course, it seemed to escape their grasp that for people like them to continue their plush lives, an endless supply of the poor is needed in order to do the 'dirty' and 'degrading' jobs too awful for the 'enlightened' ones to contemplate....