Peter Singer's Morality of death
Peter Singer has written another poorly thought out piece about the sanctity of life and scientific progress. He makes his bias fairly obvious from the start when he says
By 2040, it may be that only a rump of hard-core, know-nothing religious fundamentalists will defend the view that every human life, from conception to death, is sacrosanct.Not only the bias is obvious, but his mistating of 'religious fundamentalists' position as all life being sacrosanct is also an issue.
A few more choice logical fallacies are worth highlighting
When they are honest, conservatives acknowledge that giving up some medical advances is simply the price to be paid for doing the right thing.Yep. 'When they are honest'. Well, when Peter is being logically consistent, we could also level the same complaint against all involuntary human testing.
The possibility of cloning from the nucleus of an ordinary cell undermines the idea that embryos are precious because they have the potential to become human beings. Once it becomes clear that every human cell contains the genetic information to create a new human being, the old arguments for preserving “unique” human embryos fade away.Peter again attacks a straw man. The argument is that an innocent human life should not be destroyed in the pursuit of medical advances. That scientists can now clone people without using a fertilized embryo does not change this. Once again, the issue is not that an embryo has potentional to be a human being, but that it is a human life. Peter seems to avoid this, probably because it doesn't help his argument to actually deal with the real issues.
As we approach 2040, the Netherlands and Belgium will have had decades of experience with legalized euthanasia, and other jurisdictions will also have permitted either voluntary euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide for varying lengths of time. This experience will puncture exaggerated fears that the legalization of these practices would be a first step toward a new holocaustYet many eldery in the Netherlands are now scared that they will be murdered under the guise of being euthenaised.
When the traditional ethic of the sanctity of human life is proven indefensible at both the beginning and end of life, a new ethic will replace it. It will recognize that the concept of a person is distinct from that of a member of the species Homo sapiens, and that it is personhood, not species membership, that is most significant in determining when it is wrong to end a life.In railing at the start against religious fundamentalists, it is suprising to hear that Peter Singer is bringing in metaphysics into the debate. Any talk of what constitutes 'personhood' is strictly subjective. Obivously Peter has his own religious beliefs about what makes a person, but why should we listen to one of those 'know-nothing religious fundamentalists' like him?
And we will respect the right of autonomous, competent people to choose when to live and when to die.And where does this 'right' come from? Peter once again seems to be appealing to some metaphysical concept. Surely we can recognize this religious zealot attempting to enforce his morality upon us?
Clearly, Peter seems to be of the opinion that the ends justifies the means, that if science can do it, we should let science do it, and that personhood is decided upon by the criteria that Peter wants. The real question is, why should we think his opinion is worth anything?
Belgium and the Netherlands are collapsing for some of the very reasons Singer praises. They will return to Christian Western ethics, fall under Islamic control, or turn into a totalitarian state where only brute force keeps order.Post a Comment