Source: Benatar, David. Better Never to Have Been (2008 1 edn). pp. 41-42.
I don't understand the nuances in 1 and 3 beneath. 2 states that absent non-privative pleasures are not bad. So don't 2 + 'not worse' imply 'neutral'?
To this it might be objected that ‘good’ is an advantage over ‘not bad’ because a pleasurable sensation is better than a neutral state. The mistake underlying this objection, however, is that it treats the absence of pleasure in Scenario B as though it were akin to the absence of pleasure in Scenario A—a possibility not reflected in my matrix, but which is implicit in (4) of my original description of asymmetry. There I said that the absence of pleasure is not bad unless there is somebody for whom this absence is a deprivation. The implication here is that where an absent pleasure is a deprivation it is bad. Now, obviously, when I say that it is bad, I do not mean that it is bad in the same way that the presence of pain is bad.³⁰ What is meant is that the absent pleasure is relatively (rather than intrinsically) bad. In other words, it is worse than the presence of pleasure. But that is because X exists in Scenario A. It would have been better had X had the pleasure of which he is deprived. Instead of a pleasurable mental state, X has a neutral state. Absent pleasures in Scenario B, by contrast, are not neutral states of some person. They are no states of a person at all. Although the pleasures in A are better than the absent pleasures in A, the pleasures in A are not better than the absent pleasures in B.
The point may be made another way. Just as I am not talking about intrinsic badness when I say that absent pleasures that deprive are bad, [1.] so I am not speaking about intrinsic ‘not badness’—neutrality—when I speak about absent pleasures that do not deprive. Just as absent pleasures that do deprive are ‘bad’ in
³⁰ [2.] The only time it would be bad in that sense is where the absence of pleasure is actually painful.
the sense of ‘worse’, [3.] so absent pleasures that do not deprive are ‘not bad’ in the sense of ‘not worse’. They are not worse than the presence of pleasures. It follows that the presence of pleasures is not better, and therefore that the presence of pleasures is not an advantage over absent pleasures that do not deprive