It Total happiness is all that matters and you believe that a human always reaches minimum happiness (wellbeing, more so than say, a pig can ever hope to experience
), and I do believe this is (provided you have the same amount of food and shelter Socrates had) the case. Up until a few years ago there was enough food in the world to feed everybody (it was just distributed unequally). Perhaps this has changed since the food riots (but the reason would then be ethanol subsidies and burning food instead of eating it). However, if you stick to the container view of life (cfr. Shelly Kagan lectures on death), supposing that all life has a minimal amount of worth making it a 'gift', then there's an absolute anyhow and either way (creating an absolute minimum of hedons in the world which didn't exist prior to the entity being [born]). We would thus be in a state where, not only would it be bad to kill anyone (even people in chronic pain/depression), we would have to create as many people as women (and men, but that takes less effort) would be able to bare.it is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied
The flipside, Average happiness, would require us to kill everybody who's below the average (or mean, because the average person usually doesn't exist) and eventually we'd have to kill the last person on earth.
Personally, I believe if the government has a duty, it would be to provide for every person on this planet in the basis necessities and those seem to be food and perhaps some shelter, education would be nice but indoctrination lurks at every corner and refusing a meal (say, hungerstrike) would be a right just as much as refusing to be confined to a certain space (vagabonding is no longer illegal in my country for decades now). Nevertheless, the option should be there. Assuming people will get these basic needs (through sharing, sympathy, stealing, charity, whatnot -I included economy and religion in the original list but on closer inspection that's no more realistic than expecting governments to do it-), we'd have the moral imperative to create extra people.
For a long time I didn't want to create extra people in this overpopulated world (nor kill, but let's postone the pacifism debate if possible). The reasoning was that famine is the flipside of population > food supply. Can we really postpone creating more people until there isn't a single person starving (or dying of cold/heat)? And if you're setting up the system, that is to say, if you can do the (moral) calculus of how much resources it would take for a certain amount of people; and you'd find that we've gone beyond our limits, is there an imperative to (not only stop creating new life, but also to) end human lives already in existence?
Can anybody suggest some reading on this topic? Thanks.