Awareness raiser Peter Singer has written an article for the New York Times new blog The Stone. Singer typically goes where few dare to and in this provocative article he considers the question whether the current generation should be the last. Picking up on a Schopenhaurian theme present in a book by South African philosopher David Benatar, Singer asks,
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?
Articles written for The Stone are meant to be discussion starters so Singer doesn’t spend anytime considering answers for these questions. And typically Singer’s approach to moral problems are so radical that they can only be taken seriously by future generations. Still, he has done the job philosophers should be doing and asks questions few think to answer.