Academia Nuts

 Would this man (Dr. Julian Savulescu) strangle a baby? …maybe

Recently, a series of prominent ethicists have put forth increasingly outlandish, dangerous, and decidedly “unethical” proposals about how we should approach various moral quandaries. With their current understanding of right and wrong, they are struggling to find any ethical problems with post-birth abortion (yes, you read that right, formerly known as infanticide), “euthanizing” the mentally ill, people with disabilities, and certain elderly, condoning polygamy, bestiality (as long as the animal consents, I’m assuming with a grunt of some sort), and, what party is complete without…CANNIBALISM.

Now you’d think that with views like that you would qualify for some ethicists “Kill the Insane Program” and would never be seen from again, but as it turns out, it may just land you a prestigious professorial gig at Princeton, Oxford, or another fine institution.

When those wigged and tighted founders of this country looked for an ethical foundation for our constitution, they started with a simple premise; that it was “self-evident” that all people were created equal by a being that endowed them with basic dignity and rights. To believe this you would have to hold a few basic principles in common with them, or else, apparently it may not be so self-evident. First, you’d have to believe, as even the Deist founders did, that such a being existed. Second, you would have to believe that this Creator held humans in some esteem, even the disabled and infant ones, and wanted us to ensure they had some pretty basic rights. The first right that the Founders mentioned was life; meaning we can’t just kill the inconvenient among us.

Without this foundation, it’s hard to really approach ethics in ways that truly respect human life as being beyond just a smart animal. If our intelligence is the only thing that endows us with dignity, it would make complete sense that we should treat the less intelligent among us with less dignity. Enough from me though, let’s hear it from the learned professors themselves.

How about we start with babies: cute, innocent, cuddly babies. Everybody loves them…right? Apparently that isn’t the case. You see, a firestorm was set-off recently when a couple of professors from Australia, Drs Giubilini and Minerva, published an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics that stated among other things, “neither (a fetus or a newborn, ed.)  is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life. We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value…” and later, “Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life.” Why not adoption? Well, these professors explain that the separation could cause “psychological distress” to the mother, so it would be better just to kill it to provide finality. (h/t to the Blaze)

In the resulting firestorm, ethicists around the world condemned them and this journal realized it had made a grave mistake. Oh, I’m sorry, the opposite happened. Renowned Oxford University ethics guru, Julian Savulescu, who also happens to be the journal’s editor, said in a shrug, “If abortion is permissible, infanticide should be permissible.” That sounds suspiciously like a common pro-life argument against abortion. He stood behind the journal saying, “As Editor of the Journal, I would like to defend its publication. The arguments presented, in fact, are largely not new and have been presented repeatedly in the academic literature and public fora by the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world, including Peter Singer, Michael Tooley and John Harris in defense of infanticide, which the authors call after-birth abortion.”

Amazingly enough, if you research it, he’s right. I don’t have time to go over each of these men, but the first one he mentions, Peter Singer, should suffice. Julian mentioned him first, so he must be really important. Dr Singer is the lead bioethicist at Princeton University and is considered the preeminent voice in this field. He has influenced countless ethicists across the globe at the leading universities.

That prestige is very curious when on this topic, and on countless others, his ethics seem downright barbaric to a layperson such as myself. He not only thinks women should be able to have their newborns killed but takes it a step further. On the question of “mentally defective” newborns he says, “As long as the lives of these children are pleasant, it would not…be wrong to perform a scientific experiment on a child that resulted in the death of the child, provided another child could be conceived to take its place.” That’s right; nothing morally wrong with creating pleasant labs of “mentally defective” children to perform deadly experiments on, just make sure to replace it. And this from a man who Australians gave the “Humanist of the Year” award to.

Here is Dr Singer talking about his views on animal rights and infanticide. Infanticide starts at 5:33

There isn’t room to go over all the issues that I mentioned at the beginning, like polygamy and cannibalism, you can do a quick internet search to find the truth there. But since I promised cannibalism to capture your attention, I owe you that much. Dr Jesse Prinz, who teaches at the City University of New York and UNC Chapel Hill, wrote an article in “Philosophy Now” arguing against objective morality. He opines that objections to cannibalism (as long as they are already dead), consensual incest, and fondling of infants (as long as the infants aren’t “harmed” or “traumatized”) are just emotional and cultural responses that may differ in place and time, but have no bearing on any actual objective standard. The modern ethicists only standard seems to be avoiding pain or trauma so they are left unable to find any reason to denounce these activities. Dead people can’t be caused pain or trauma, so how could it be immoral to eat them?

The point is, if we can’t declare our humanity sacred and inviolable in some objective way, we really won’t have reason to stand against the local cannibal, pedophile, or mentally-defective experimentation lab. Whether a person who has reached some arbitrary state of “full-consciousness” is permanently traumatized should be beside the point. It’s the inherent dignity of their humanity. The professors may be surprised to find, as I have working with the disabled, that they are far more conscious than one might suspect anyway. Would this idea of only protecting the fully-conscious allow for a person in a coma to be molested or killed too? Just so I know, what are my rights if I take a nap?

The most vulnerable people should not be done away with, experimented on, or fondled, or even eaten after they’re dead. We are sacred. Jesus Christ, whom much of our Western philosophy used to be based on, actually made it clear that they are the ones to be most protected. When he said to care for “the least of these” he didn’t just mean ethics professors, although they definitely make my list. He meant the powerless (those, who without truly ethical people around, might be taken advantage of, or done away with). Ironically, it seems the ones we may have to protect them from the most are ethics professors.


Posted on March 21, 2012, in Culture, Politics, Religion. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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