The Case Against Peter Singer

The Case Against Peter Singer August 15, 2012

Dr. Peter Singer the animal rights activist and infanticide advocate, was on TV again last night (Q&A), once more heralding the virtues and values of “selected infanticide.” He believes in killing babies with disabilities.

There is a great response to Singer by a woman with a disability, Stella Young, over at the ABC website Ramp Up. Wonderful stuff. Do read it. She concludes:

For me, Singer’s views about the hypothetical are not hypothetical at all. While he may see value in the life I’m living now, and may even treat me as an equal, he still believes that on the balance of things, parents and doctors should be given the choice to end lives like mine before they get tricky. For me, and for many other people with disabilities, it’s personal.

Peter Singer is the ideological architect behind the Greens, helping co-author their manifesto, and he’s a one time senate candidate for them too. For me, his pro-infanticide views are reason enough why the Greens must never, ever, ever be allowed to gain power in Australia. For the sake of the disabled, we need to ensure that his evil designs remain nothing more than the intellectual fantasy of the rich-inner-city-chardonnay-swilling-self-righteous-ideologues, and never get even a hearing in any legislature.

But then again, maybe I’ve spoken too harshly. We should remember that a number of European leaders and intellectuals would agree that persons with disabilities are not really “persons,” and that infanticide is both permissible and preferable. So it is most unfortunate for Singer, however, that most of his closest allies on this matter were executed shortly after the Nuremburg trials.

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  • James K

    There are a lot of Greens members and supporters who do not go as far as Mr Singer. Indeed, to assume that the Greens must in all ways echo the views of one of the original founders is really quite illogical and detached from real life. It would be like saying that the Labor Party today is still the same as the ideals of one of the founders – that is has never changed and morfed. … It would be like saying that communism in China today is the same as Mao’s ideals…
    It would be the same as saying that the Liberal party of today is the same as it was when Mr Frazer was the leader.
    Things dont stay the same. Mr Singer is no longer influential in the Greens party. His ideals are his own and are more extreme than the majority of Greens supporters and members.

  • Richard M

    What case against Peter Singer have you presented here? You have merely outlined his views and said you don’t like them. Its been more of a case against your intelligence.

    • I think he means the article he referenced made the case, and Michael agrees with it. It’s not an insult to someone’s intelligence that they affirmed what another author wrote.

  • Tyler Wittman

    “So it is most unfortunate for Singer, however, that most of his closest
    allies on this matter were executed shortly after the Nuremburg trials.”

    AMEN.

  • Singer is one of those wonderfully brilliant thinkers who demonstrates how foolish and wicked the human mind can become when it takes the wrong first principles to their logical conclusion. His problem in argumentation is rarely in the later steps, but rather in his utilitarianism that underlies all of his thinking.

    • I am convinced that atrocity is invariably the end result of utilitarianism.

  • James K

    I agree that Mr Singer has extreme views and fortunately most human beings find the most extreme of them offensive and immoral. But to say that the modern day Greens Party is representative of Mr Singer’s views is just naive and misinformed. That is what this short piece goes to passionate effort in doing and that is a fundamental mistake.
    No political party or movement ever stays the same as just one of the foundational members personal views. It is made up of thousands more people all inputting it and shaping it. The Republicans in America today are very different to when Abraham Lincoln was one! The Labor Party in Australia is very different to when ministers and trade unionists formed it over a century ago. As people come and go, and as new people join it and shape it, it changes.
    Mr Singer is not representative of the thousands of people who are in the Greens any more, nor of the million Australian voters who vote for that party.

  • James K

    I have re-read the above a couple more times, and you know what? I am actually really offended by the parallel of the modern Greens movement in Australia with the Nazi’s of world war two. It is offensive and irresponsible. It is hate-inspiring, fear-inspiring, and manipulative nonsense that should never have been printed by this author. It is a shocking alarmist piece of inflamed and inaccurate rubbish. I find these hate-filled Christians to be an embarrasment to the faith. And this from a man who knows better.
    It really deserves to be retracted and an apology should be forthcoming. What a lot of hysterical garbage!

    • Duncan

      James you may have re-read the article a number of times but it appears that you do not see that Dr Bird is not making a direct connection between the Greens and Nazis but rather is recognising the connection between Peter Singer’s philosophy and that of the Nazi leadership. Such a connection may not be nice but it certainly is clearly there.

      Perhaps it is the Greens that need to issue the apology for having such a connection with Peter Singer and retract or re-write their manifesto so as to make it very clear that their basic philosophy is not to be identified with that of Peter Singer’s.

  • james k

    Duncan – you completely miss the point. If you dont see a blatant link between the authors comments about Nazis and the evil greens who must never ever be allowed in power…. then you are burying your head in the sand to defend someone who should know better.

    My other blogs already posted here show that it is rather simplistic and even ignorant to pretend that a single founding father of any movement will be the phisosophical base for that movement for ever. It implies that the thousands of others who have joined it since, are voiceless. It implies that the movement is locked into promoting the personal beliefs of one founder for ever! Surely you must see the foolishness of such a view. And re the Greens esp: it is a very grass roots party that allows all members to shape policy and direction.

    1 million Australians vote green now. They are not like Mr Singer. Ten thousand signed up members around the country (I am guessing, but it is over 2000 in Victoria) do not think like Mr Singer. They come from all walks of life and all contribute to the ongoing shaping of the party.
    So… you want every organisation that has moved away from the personal views of one of the founders in some areas, to “apologise” for doing so? You are wanting an “apology” for growth and change. I was asking for an apology for inflaminatory nonsense that promotes misinformation and fear.
    I will let our readers decide who has got the more valid reason for an “apology”.

    • Duncan

      James, yes, you wrote in a more nuanced fashion than I give you credit for. My apologies.

      Whether Dr Bird should apologies to the Greens or not is another issue. You obviously know far more about the Greens political party than I do. However when the manifesto which Peter Singer worked on is still the current manifesto of the Greens then that raises concerns for me.

      My problem with the Greens in very basic terms is that if they stuck primarily or entirely to protecting the environment I’d sign up and vote for them. However, when I have seen their leaders interviewed and read their material they also take stands on issues which are contrary to many of my values.

      But these are my values and not necessarily others. I don’t expect political parties to draw up polices for my vote.

      Thanks for explaining yourself in a pleasant fashion,

      Duncan

  • James K

    Duncan – thanks for your further thoughts, and I will try to be less emotional in this reply! Thanks by the way for the gracious way in which you have responded. I will try to do the same.

    A few things should be noted:

    1) I have been overly generous in the way I have described Mr Singer as a founding father of the Greens. The truth is that he did not help found the Greens. He was a friend of Bob Browns, and co-authored a book with him, and he did become an early member of the Greens and he did run as a candidate in an early election, but he was not one of the founders of the party.
    2) Likewise, he has had almost nothing to do with the party for the last decade.

    3) Furthermore, I am not sure what you are referring to as an original manifesto that is still the greens manifesto. If you are referring to the book that was co-authored by he and Bob Brown, that is not a manifesto for the party. The Greens website has its statements of policy and goals etc. That would be better seen as the current guiding principles or manifesto.

    4) And finally, the Greens (just like all the parties, and any organisation) morfs and changes as its membership grows and more people input it. I have known some who have left the party because it is not “radical” enough any more. The Sex party has been launched the last few years – clearly those folk dont think the Greens are sufficient for their goals. Things change. The Greens will hopefully never be “mainstream” but they have mellowed and grown and changed over the years.

    I hope that clarifys a few of the reasons why I got upset with the original blog here.

    • Duncan

      James,

      That does indeed clarify things better. Thankyou for taking the time to reply. When I am living in Australia next and can vote (I’m based for extended periods in a remote location where voting is not possible) I will try to look at The Greens afresh along with other political parties of significance.

      All the best,

      Duncan

      • james k

        Thanks Duncan, that is very fair.
        I wish everyone did that in fact (and then I would have greater respect for their decisions even if different to my own conclusions).
        all the best in all you do.
        James

  • Peter

    Your obvious bent against Christians is not only unfounded, but foolish. Christians are not hate filled, but your comments reveal a great deal about which I will comment. Firstly, to kill the wretchedly ill, the weak, or disadvantaged is the same “concept” that the sick-minded Hitler used, and if Peter Singer and it appears, the Greens had their way, that’s what they would want to do in our nation, kill babies because they are not, in his opinion, anymore deserving of “life” than any other animal. WHo gave him the right, or the Greens, to play God over other human beings? It’s people like you who prefer to overlook the innately evil nature of such an individual.
    My brother was a haemophiliac who lived a life of suffering, but it was his life, not Peter Singers to take, or the Greens, or you, if you agree with their views as you probably do. Even if you do not, we ought to help Peter Singer in an institution with the same compassion he says we ought no to have for his fellow man. He is a sick, sick man, who advocates a relationship between mankind and animals, which is reserved only for a man and a woman in a loving marriage relationship. Any “normal-thinking” person ought to know that “sex” between humans and animals is the most depraved & perverted view for any “mind”!!! Further, while throwing stones at the columnists so-called “offensive” and “irresponsible” article, and thereby overlooking the innately evil nature of the person in question, you have inadvertently thrown the proverbial stone, while in a crumbling glasshouse. The only embarrassment is the shame that you do not feel ashamed that you have agreed with Mr. Singers wicked desire to kill the weak, sick and disadvantaged, by your attack on a columnist who for better or worse, has expressed the disgust that mainstream humanity might reasonably assess as at the least, a perverted, extreme and truly hate-filled manifesto, and at worst, frightening “thinking” within perverted and extremely sick people who have not only no-love for their own fellow-man, but for those disadvantaged in our societies. What happened to mercy, love, pity? They have been replaced in some elements of our society with hypocrisy, hard-heartedness, blindness.