Honors Projects


This paper explores the asymmetry of pleasure and pain as expressed in David Benatar’s book Better Never to Have Been, which is the basis for the argument that it is always an irreparable harm to bring a person into existence, and therefore we are morally obligated to pursue extinction as a species. I will examine Benatar’s argument in support of the asymmetry’s existence and analyze the strength of his argument for extinction overall, ultimately determining that his conclusion is too strong. I will defend this claim on the grounds that Benatar’s asymmetry implies the truth of two claims that must be false according to the nature of objective morality: that a moral universe is unattainable, and that morality is better off without the existence of moral agents. I will conclude by defending Benatar’s view about the harm of bringing a person into existence, but revising his secondary argument that we are morally obligated to seek extinction because of this. In its place, I propose that we should adopt a policy of limited procreation, to increase the chance of any person who is brought into existence having a life that creates or experiences enough good to compensate for the initial bad that stems from the harm of coming into existence.



First Advisor

Louis Katzner

First Advisor Department


Second Advisor

Abigail Cloud

Second Advisor Department


Publication Date

Fall 12-8-2017