Skip to comments.‘Just being human doesn’t give you a right to live’: Peter Singer sums up pro-abortion philosophy
Posted on 08/16/2012 1:40:14 PM PDT by Morgana
Membership of the species Homo sapiens is not enough to confer a right to life.
To the ears of us ordinary people, it sounds like the ravings of some fringe group of European neo-fascists or Communists, but the man who made that statement in a Scottish newspaper today is perhaps the most acclaimed and respected ethical philosopher alive, toasted by liberal academic and political elites around the world.
Philosopher and Bioethicist Peter Singer defended abortion in an op-ed in the Scotsman today.
Opponents will respond that abortion is, by its very nature, unsafe for the fetus, he wrote. They point out that abortion kills a unique, living human individual. That claim is difficult to deny, at least if by human we mean member of the species Homo sapiens.
Singer is among the cadre of leading thinkers who maintain that being a human being isnt enough to confer any legal rights. To be a person, one must fulfill a particular set of criteria.
It is also true that we cannot simply invoke a womans right to choose in order to avoid the ethical issue of the moral status of the fetus, Singer continued. If the fetus really did have the moral status of any other human being, it would be difficult to argue that a pregnant womans right to choose includes the right to bring about the death of the fetus, except perhaps when the womans life is at stake.
The fallacy in the anti-abortion argument lies in the shift from the scientifically accurate claim that the fetus is a living individual of the species Homo sapiens to the ethical claim that the fetus therefore has the same right to life as any other human being.
Contrary to how he sounds, Peter Singer is not some obscure crank, writing for a tiny audience of like-minded nutters. Probably most famous for being the father of the modern animal rights movement, he is also widely regarded as the most influential bioethicist in the world. And his positions as the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University, and a Laureate Professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne, are as good an indicator as any to start to appreciate just how far into the Upsidedownland Matrix academia and the world of bioethics has gone.
Even as one of the most famous professional philosophers in the world, Singers ideas continue to shock pro-life people with his forthright defense of infanticide, the wholesale killing of people with dementia, the sexual use of animals, (whom he maintains are capable of consent), and the use of the cognitively disabled for medical experiments.
As a bioethicist, Singer swats aside outdated concepts like mercy killing to end the suffering of the patient, arguing instead that it is the suffering of the patients family, friends, and of society as a whole that is more important. Suffering patients cost society money to keep alive and comfortable; they demand extra care and time that diminishes the freedom and autonomy of their caregivers.
Singer is renowned for carrying the logic of classical Utilitarianism to its furthest extreme. Utilitarianism, the philosophy developed in England in the 18th century by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, proposes that all human action must be ordered to producing happiness and reducing suffering. That might sound fine on the surface, but in practice it means that the moral worth of any action is determined only by its resulting outcome, not by whether it is good or evil in itself. This means that killing would not be evil in itself, but only when it brings unhappiness into the world.
Singers extreme form of preference utilitarianism proposes that human life has no inherent value. Therefore, killing a patient out of mercy is a purely mathematical consideration, one that prioritizes the reduction of the overall quantity of suffering in the world, tipping the global scales towards happiness. He and those who follow his theories, posit a kind of invisible cloud of suffering, like a layer of pollution, covering the world that must be reduced. And the most convenient way to do that is simply to remove those who suffer.
To justify this, Singer has developed the idea that only those with a certain level of cognitive function can be considered persons, which idea he expanded to propose that any creature with higher presumptive cognitive functions than the bare minimum were also persons, including great apes, dogs, and dolphins.
We can plausibly argue, he wrote in the Scotsman, that we ought not to kill, against their will, self-aware beings who want to continue to live. We can see this as a violation of their autonomy, or a thwarting of their preferences. But why should a beings potential to become rationally self-aware make it wrong to end its life before it has the capacity for rationality or self-awareness?
The one group that does not qualify for personhood in Singers world are newborn humans and brain damaged people of any age. These, he says, ought to have personhood legally bestowed upon them only after the approval of their parents or caregivers. Parents, he believes, should be given a month or so to decide if they want to keep their child, and only then should it have the protection of the law.
We have no obligation to allow every being with the potential to become a rational being to realize that potential, he argued in todays piece.
If it comes to a clash between the supposed interests of potentially rational but not yet conscious beings and the vital interests of actually rational women, we should give preference to the women every time, he wrote.
What the Scotsman declines to mention is that Singer is possibly the most read, most listened-to, and most followed thinker of our times. So ubiquitous are his ideas in academia, government, and most prominent medical ethicists throughout the Western world that most people parroting them often have no idea they are following him.
A conversation comes to mind that I had many years ago over the internet with a man running for public office in the eastern Canadian province of Nova Scotia. This man, a Unitarian minister, regarded himself as driven by his high ethical ideals. He was telling me in all earnestness that the real political task was to increase the general quantity of human happiness in the world. An unborn infant, he said, was not capable of being truly happy, because it didnt have the cognitive ability to appreciate its surroundings. Therefore, the rights of the mother to her full measure of happiness must take precedence.
He was somewhat horrified when I countered that as a good disciple of Peter Singer he ought to be taking the argument a step forward and offering to include infanticide on demand in Nova Scotias public medical insurance coverage. After I explained who Singer was, he was shocked that such a wicked man could have become so influential.
Many people believe that philosophy is nothing more than a kind of academic playpen for tenured eggheads and unmotivated undergraduates. But philosophy is the foundation of our societies, how we decide what is and is not worth doing as individuals and as a civilization, what is and is not morally acceptable. Over the last few centuries, there has been a slow but massive shift, mostly unknown to us ordinary folks outside the ivy-covered walls, away from traditional Judeo-Christian ethics to these new, Enlightenment-era principles.
Philosophy and culture are inextricably connected, but it is usually only when a man like Peter Singer writes his ideas out loud in a daily newspaper that the general public starts to become aware of the origins of our current cultural sickness. But these new ideas have slowly grown their poisoned tendrils into every corner of human endeavor and strangled the basic notions upon which our civilization was built.
A lot of pro-life people got involved because of a single legal change, something that shocked and horrified them, the legalization of abortion or euthanasia. But it is crucial for pro-life people to understand the bigger picture, that the thing we are fighting is bigger than a single incident, or a single issue.
It is not about overturning Roe v. Wade or the Abortion Act 1967. It is about defeating an entire new philosophical culture, a system of thought governing all human action. This new set of ideas has created the abortionist and pansexualist regime we are fighting in the pro-life movement. The sexual revolution did not spring out of nothing in 1965.
This is utilitarian ethics. He has taken this sort of stance for some time now. You don’t necessarily have a right to life unless meet certain criteria some of which can be met by the higher species of animals. He is consistent in his arguments but is consistently wrong.
Mr. Singer does not realize that he is going to die - not once, but twice.
I strongly suspect that if I held a gun to Mr. Singer’s head and was about to splatter his gray matter against the nearest wall because his views made ME and most other reasonable persons UNhappy, that he would be whistling a different tune about his utilitarian “ethics”.
Mr Singer’s views make a lot of people unhappy. Therefore, we should remove him and his ideas from this planet in order to increase happiness. What a truly evil person.
stealing lines from old Charles Bronson movies?
#1 it sounds like the ravings of some fringe group of European neo-fascists or Communists,
is perhaps the most acclaimed and respected ethical philosopher alive,
#2toasted by liberal academic and political elites around the world.
DUH #1 and #2 are the same!
Didn’t this monster become a czar for Ubama?
If I did it was by accident. Don’t watch Charles Bronson movies, am into Chuck Norris.
I think about that line of argument too when I hear certain smug academics and "intellectuals" assert that "usefulness" is the only criteria for being allowed to live. Well then, if I put a gun to the academic's noggin and threatened to end his life because I found a group of people who agreed he was worthless, do you think the academic might rethink his position? Based on usefulness, liberal arts academics are about the most useless people around.
If more pro-aborts would quit lying to themselves and admit this, people would overwhelmingly be pro-life. Very few would subscribe to his extreme utilitarian philosophy.
Then, Mr. Singer, I assume that it is OK if we kill you!
Mr. Singer is a Nazi and/or attention whore.
I wouldn’t give him another second’s notice, except, as others have pointed out, he’s the inevitable end point of every leftist dogma, regime, and logical argument.
The leftists think their goal is like the Star Trek universe, when it always ends up being the 7th level of Hell.
Ethics in it's nuance meaning is the teaching of right and wrong in the absense of God. This in reality degenerates to no more than lawyers lecturing corporate policy and the law, which is man made and subject to mob rule. So called “ethics” is by its very nature brings about outcomes that are hedonisticly motivated, situational dependent, and logically inconsistent, unlike morals that take a dentological approach and tend to actually be more consistent. If there is such a thing as truth, ethics will not bring you there, morals will.
While we don't call it as such, ethics as taught today in higher education, corporate America and government is born out of the realization of a need for ground rules governing behavior beyond simply what the law states. It is the teaching of right and wrong in a secular multicultural society where religion has been displaced in every facet it use to fill. The government runs the schools and hospitals, a bad behaviorist psychologist coaches couples to a failed marriage or talks about grief albeit offering no answers, and the ethicist talks about right and wrong vs. the pastor or priest. The field of ethics and all these sharlatons are no more than another secular component in this society that has replaced what religion use to do.
” perhaps the most acclaimed and respected ethical philosopher alive,”
By some perhaps, but not by me!
Statements about not having the ‘right’ to life are completely contrary to the U.S. Bill of Rights. And it makes me think that he is not thinking very clearly at all. Because if his statement is true, then he himself can qualify for a post natal abortion albeit many years later than what he was thinking.
People who think like Singer are devoid of emotions, sympathy, or compassion and lack the ability to appreciate their emotional surroundings, so they should be aborted.
This is also the guy who said it should be legal for people to have sex with animals, as long as the animals are consenting.
I beleive he also believes children have a right to have sex with adults. This guy is one sicko as well a a sociopath.
Sociopathy is chiefly characterized by something wrong with the person’s conscience. They either don’t have one, it’s full of holes like Swiss cheese, or they are somehow able to completely neutralize or negate any sense of conscience or future time perspective. Sociopaths only care about fulfilling their own needs and desires - selfishness and egocentricity to the extreme. Everything and everybody else is mentally twisted around in their minds as objects to be used in fulfilling their own needs and desires. They often believe they are doing something good for society, or at least nothing that bad. The term “sociopath” is frequently used by psychologists and sociologists alike in referring to persons whose unsocialized character is due primarily to parental failures (usually fatherlessness) rather than an inherent feature of temperament. Lykken (1995), for example, clearly distinguishes between the sociopath (who is socialized into becoming a psychopath) and a “true” psychopath (who is born that way).
OK, who volunteers to test his theory by threatening to kill this bastard, bring him to his knees and make him pee pee in his pants?
IMO psychology is the battering ram constantly weakening those foundations as it hammers relentlessly against them.
Ethics is a topic which is discussable but only meaningful when placed in the context of "virtues". Hence, virtue-based ethics.
Well-defined and well-discussed aspect of moral theology, at least in Catholic circles.
Henry Bowman, paging Henry Bowman...Rule 308 is in effect...
Try this. Look up ethics in Wikipedia and see how many times God or scripture is referenced as a source for defining right and wrong. Now look up morals and do the same.
Do this one. When sitting in any ethics training in college, government or corporate America, listen carefully and again determine what is referenced as the source for defining right and wrong. With ethics they will mention laws, policies and secular philosophers/philosophy. When morals are mentioned, outside of ethics training, you'll hear references to God.
Bottom line: in colloquial language (except in those cases as you mention, and there are some others- I went to a Jesuit college), the nuance difference between morals and ethics is that ethics is the teaching of right and wrong without any mention of God, the Bible, Jesus, etc.
Like children that speak their own language, a mix of what they make up and learn from us, we sometimes have our own meanings to words, yet society might see it differently. The words ethics and morals have a nuance difference in how they are used and what they really mean, as used in government, business and academia. Ethics uses a modern utilitarian approach, morals is dentological. One is situationally dependent, the other absolute. One strives for consistency, is based on a doctrine and derives its idea of right and wrong from scripture; the other refers to man made laws, man made policies, men with titles in philosophy, ethics, psychology or sociology.
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