A while back I posted what I felt to be an adequate deconstruction of David Benatar's antinatalist asymmetry. Francois Tremblay "responded" to my critique and when I attempted to follow up, he proceeded to ignore my arguments and then ban me.
Being the anxious and obsessive-perfectionist I tend to be, this has not sat well with me. Apparently I "don't get it" and am "not addressing the argument", as well as being generally an idiot.
I've made a diagram which I think will hopefully show what I believe to be the problem in the asymmetry. So please, if anyone is reading this (especially you, Tremblay), explain to me how I am wrong, preferably without telling me to die in a fire. Or, if you agree, post a comment and you'll get a purple sticker.
Tremblay in particular claims that Benatar is not talking about possible people but states of affairs.
If we ignore states of affairs, the symmetry is obvious. But Tremblay argues that "this is not the argument".
Regardless, I think the diagram clearly shows how an asymmetry derived from states of affairs is still question-begging and ad hoc.
The absence of pleasure is seen as a personal bad (from the possible person's interests), but not an impersonal bad, since nobody is actually there to be deprived of pleasure. The impersonal values here, then, are referring to the value of a state of affairs.
The absence of pain is seen not only as a personal good (from the possible person's interests), but also an impersonal good. Tremblay, to paraphrase, says that the absence of pain is impersonally good because nobody is suffering.
But this ignores what could (and should) be applied to the absence of pleasure: the absence of pleasure is impersonally bad because nobody is experiencing pleasantness. Indeed, we can (contra Benatar) actually feel regret for missing an opportunity for pleasure, even if there's nobody there to experience this regret (excluding ourselves). For example, if we have a choice between one state of affairs in which a person was extremely happy (and felt no pain) and another state of affairs in which nobody existed at all, and we chose the latter option, it is plausible that we would actually feel regret for not bringing this happy person into existence.
None of this is to say that we actually have a duty to bring happy people into existence. As I've pointed out before, our obligations prioritize pain over pleasure. Having a child takes a lot of effort - any obligation we had towards creating happy people would be counteracted by our own discomfort.
Furthermore, it's not even clear why we should ignore the symmetry of personal values in favor of the supposed-asymmetry of impersonal values. This seems to be question-begging.
Additionally, there is implicitly a prioritization of harm in the asymmetry (no harm is a good, no benefit is not-bad). But this is not logical, rather it is material argumentation.
The bottom line here, the underlying point, is that if nobody needs to exist for the absence of pain to be impersonally good, then nobody needs to exist for the absence of pleasure to be impersonally bad. There's no justification for applying an impersonal value to one but neglecting this for the other in the purely logical, formal sense.