Introducing Dr. Peter Singer

23 Jun

Joe Carter, over at First Things, introduces the casual reader to Bioethicist Peter Singer.  I’ve had my students read articles by Peter Singer.  They are alarmed, to say the least.  But the problem is, they have a hard time starting with his same assumptions (no God, no revelation) and yet ending up with things like intrinsic human value, human specialness, absolute morality, etc.  A clip:

On The Acceptability of Killing Newborn Infants

In Chapter 4 we saw that the fact that a being is a human being, in the sense of a member of the species Homo sapiens, is not relevant to the wrongness of killing it; it is, rather, characteristics like rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness that make a difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings, or any other self-conscious beings. This conclusion is not limited to infants who, because of irreversible intellectual disabilities, will never be rational, self-conscious beings. We saw in our discussion of abortion that the potential of a fetus to become a rational, self-conscious being cannot count against killing it at a stage when it lacks these characteristics – not, that is, unless we are also prepared to count the value of rational self-conscious life as a reason against contraception and celibacy. No infant – disabled or not – has as strong a claim to life as beings capable of seeing themselves as distinct entities, existing over time. (1)

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