The Dangerous Mind of Peter Singer

Over at First Things Joe Carter has an excellent article called The Dangerous Mind of Peter Singer. Singer is a well-known ethicist and philosopher who has put forward controversial views concerning infanticide, non-voluntary euthanasia, and even bestiality. He has spent a career justifying what most humans beings would call unjustifiable.  It is his justification for the killing of infants, esp. disabled infants, that truly enrages me. In his Rethinking Life and Death, Singer argues that newborns lack the essential characteristics of personhood, namely, rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness. Therefore, “killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living”. I genuinely wonder if he actually believes this stuff or does he simply like the fame that goes with notoriety. The problem is that he’s the darling of the left-wing intelligentsia and one day, someone, somewhere is gonna try to make his ethical vision a reality. Singer co-wrote the political manifesto for the Australian Greens, a political party with significant power in the Australian Senate. This scares me! Quite frankly, Singer does for the good humanity what Joseph Goebbles did for the Jews.

Carter concludes:

While it is necessary to consider and debate unpopular views, there should be a minimum standard for ethical discourse whether on the elementary playground or in the lecture halls of Princeton. There are certain moral issues that are all but universally recognized as self-evidently wrong by those in possession of rational faculties. Rape is wrong, torturing babies for fun is objectively morally bad, and the Holocaust was not just a violation of utilitarian ethic, but an event of grave moral evil. If someone cannot meet this basic requirement, they can safely be ignored, regardless of where they received a paycheck.

  • Anonymous

    I wasn’t aware that Singer claimed rape wasn’t wrong, torturing babies for fun was good or that the holocaust wasn’t a crime against humanity. But even if he was espousing positions that one considered to be ‘self-evidently… [ir]rational’, then why not demolish rather than simply dismiss them? If Singer only deals in ethical straw men, then why is Carter so keen to not discredit them? By proposing a minimum standard (one that he could agree with no doubt, and the imposition of which he might enjoy enforcing) he moves from playing the ball to playing the man. Is that good ethics?

  • Anonymous

    I wasn’t aware that Singer claimed rape wasn’t wrong, torturing babies for fun was good or that the holocaust wasn’t a crime against humanity. But if he was espousing positions that one considered to be ‘self-evidently… [ir]rational’, then why not demolish rather than simply dismiss them? If Singer only deals in ethical straw men, then why is Carter so keen to not discredit him? By proposing a minimum standard (one that he could agree with, no doubt, and the imposition of which he might choose to enforce) he moves from playing the ball to playing the man. Is that good ethics?

  • phillip mutchell

    I agree with you Michael, the care of the disadvantaged will cost though, so obviously we need to close all those humanities and other non-productive elements of education and concentrate solely on those which will produce the required wealth to sustain the high morality of those who won’t actually have to pay or care, and certainly slash the health and social budget for any who willingly find themselves unemployed or pregnant, I mean they have a choice, those children that that nasty Singer wants to dispose of are as helpless as the aborted foetus.

  • phillip mutchell

    I agree with you Michael, the care of the disadvantaged will cost though, so obviously we need to close all those humanities and other non-productive elements of education and concentrate solely on those which will produce the required wealth to sustain the high morality of those who won’t actually have to pay or care, and certainly slash the health and social budget for any who willingly find themselves unemployed or pregnant, I mean they have a choice, those children that that nasty Singer wants to dispose of are as helpless as the aborted foetus.

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  • XiROXuRFUoVRuYhhVwKz

    it’s all a strawman attack on Singer. Mr. Carter has an agenda to defend and/or he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. All the Christian philosophers at the conference treated Singer with the utmost respect.

  • XiROXuRFUoVRuYhhVwKz

    it’s all a strawman attack on Singer. Mr. Carter has an agenda to defend and/or he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. All the Christian philosophers at the conference treated Singer with the utmost respect.


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