Professor Saul Smilansky (University of Haifa)  will be giving a talk on Monday, March 1, at the Oxford Moral Philosophy Seminar  entitled “Should We Be Sorry that We Exist?”  A copy of Saul’s talk can be found here . Saul would welcome any comments/suggestions. Here’s an abstract of his talk:
We can morally compare possible alternative states of affairs, judging that various actual historical occurrences were bad, overall— the Holocaust, World War I, and slavery, for example. We should be sorry that such events occurred. But the vast majority of people who now exist would not have existed were it not for those historical events. A “package deal” is involved here: those events, together with oneself; or, the absence of the historical calamity, and the absence of oneself. So, ought one to be sorry that one exists? There seems to be a strong case for saying that morally one must wish and prefer that certain historical events had not occurred, even if that would have meant that one would never have existed. After setting out this idea, I explore arguments against it, and possible implications if it is accepted.