If that title doesn’t frighten you, nothing will.
You have advanced kidney cancer. It will kill you, probably in the next year or two. A drug called Sutent slows the spread of the cancer and may give you an extra six months, but at a cost of $54,000. Is a few more months worth that much?
I’ll save you the trouble of reading: his answer is “The decision should not be up to you.”
Actually, if that doesn’t frighten you, then nothing will.
Peter Singer is, of course, the radical philosopher and animal rights activist from Princeton whose single most terrifying quality is his ability to carefully take a particular thought to its logical conclusion – which is why he can calmly write things like this:
Q. You have been quoted as saying: “Killing a defective infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Sometimes it is not wrong at all.” Is that quote accurate?
A. It is accurate, but can be misleading if read without an understanding of what I mean by the term “person” (which is discussed in Practical Ethics, from which that quotation is taken). I use the term “person” to refer to a being who is capable of anticipating the future, of having wants and desires for the future. As I have said in answer to the previous question, I think that it is generally a greater wrong to kill such a being than it is to kill a being that has no sense of existing over time. Newborn human babies have no sense of their own existence over time. So killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living. That doesn’t mean that it is not almost always a terrible thing to do. It is, but that is because most infants are loved and cherished by their parents, and to kill an infant is usually to do a great wrong to its parents.
Sometimes, perhaps because the baby has a serious disability, parents think it better that their newborn infant should die. Many doctors will accept their wishes, to the extent of not giving the baby life-supporting medical treatment. That will often ensure that the baby dies. My view is different from this, only to the extent that if a decision is taken, by the parents and doctors, that it is better that a baby should die, I believe it should be possible to carry out that decision, not only by withholding or withdrawing life-support – which can lead to the baby dying slowly from dehydration or from an infection – but also by taking active steps to end the baby’s life swiftly and humanely.
…without feeling the need to contemplate the loaded barrel of a pistol afterward. If you’d like to wreck your morning completely, read this account by Harriet McBryde Johnson and her encounter with Singer’s horrific sanity. Honestly, I’d prefer it if he was merely a gibbering madman – but he truly believes in the rules that others merely give lip service to, which is why his defenders are usually people who are typically too isolated or inexperienced themselves to understand why normal people twitch when the discussion of removing inconvenient babies show up.
PS: Yes, I’m well aware that this entire post could be categorized as an exercise in the fallacy known as ‘poisoning the well.’ Such a shame that this is a discussion where sheer elemental revulsion may have its say.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.