Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: David Benatar

Emma Watson’s HeForShe Campaign is Really Cool

Writing about politics is often a depressing business. In the big picture, so much continues to go wrong–economic inequalities continue to grow, climate change continues to get ignored, and governments continue to take apart their regulatory and welfare states. Wars rage, and people die in the millions of preventable diseases. Racism, sexism, xenophobia, and other poisonous ideologies march on. There is so much unnecessary suffering in the world. But despite all the pessimism I often feel for the future of our societies, there was a story I ran across this past week that made me smile. Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai claims to have been inspired by Emma Watson’s HeForShe campaign to call herself a feminist. This may sound like a small thing, but it has some big implications, and they’re really good.

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Better Never to Have Been?

I have recently finished reading a fascinating and thought-provoking book by political theorist David Benatar, entitled Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence. In this book, Benatar makes a rather unconventional argument–that to bring someone into existence is to harm that person, and that it is consequently generally wrong to have children, because to have children is to harm them. While I found Benatar’s argument most interesting, I ultimately found it unpersuasive. Here’s why.

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Disability or Inability?

Today I’d like to consider an argument briefly referenced by David Benatar in a book of his I have been reading on a different, tangentially-related subject. It is an argument made by some disability rights advocates. They maintain that efforts to eliminate genetic handicaps and birth defects are discriminatory and unethical on the grounds that disability is a social construct. I’d like to investigate this argument and see if it holds water.

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