Margins of Being "Human" (was Re: Peter Singer & Vegetarian Dogs)

Marta Russell ap888 at
Tue Mar 7 13:56:41 PST 2000

Ken Hanly wrote:

> THe standard of humanity you are criticising has to do only with
> personhood. But this has nothing to do with placing any particular moral worth
> on reason, autonomy etc. either. Singer's criteria are conceptual, not moral
> requirements, for having a right to life. He is not saying that the normal
> infant is more valuable than the
> disabled infant. He is saying that neither has a right to life. Why? Because
> neither is capable of envisioning a future that it would lack if killed or can
> desire such a future etc. Now this may be stupid or whatever, but it has

> nothing to do with placing more value on the normal than disabled infant- even
> though it does have ethical implications. These ethical implications are just
> as negative for normal as for the disabled since both lose any appeal to a
> right to life to protect them against being killed.

Ken, we are still in disagreement over this. If we read between the lines by examining what Singer discusses and how he discusses it, Singer *singles out* disability as a basis for killing when he does not give the same weight to killing nondisabled infants. He cloaks this in the rationale of "suffering" -- whatever he thinks suffering is. I can find no passage where Singer goes on and on, paragraph after paragraph about the "quality of life" of the nondisabled infant. He does not talk about killing black babies, or female babies, or poor babies, only disabled babies. What about homosexual babies who make their parents unhappy when they discover this factor later in life? Well since one cannot "see" homosexuality at birth Singer conveniently escapes that one.


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