Peter Singer’s Twisted Ethics

singer 1I was absolutely gobsmacked to read this headline: “Child’s life is the best Mother’s Day gift.” And I was further bowled over to read the next line: “Eight million deaths a year can be prevented – we only have to learn how to give.” I was absolutely flabbergasted because of who the author was.

These lines are from none other than Peter Singer, one of the world’s most infamous proponents not only of abortion on demand, but of infanticide. In today’s Melbourne Age he urges us to act on early childhood deaths due to malnutrition, disease, and so on.

No one would argue against this. But who is calling for this action? Who is making these weighty moral pronouncements? This world-renowned ethicist is not only pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia, but he is also fully in favour of infanticide. Thus his concerns about human life here don’t exactly seem to stack up.

Peter Singer is the atheist utilitarian philosopher who is full on about animal rights, and is a committed vegetarian. He has even written serious articles informing us that there is really nothing wrong with bestiality. For this bioethicist, the golden rule seems to be this: feel free to have sex with animals as long as you don’t eat them afterwards.

And Singer has explicitly stated that the newborn have no inherent right to life, but must earn that right if they pass various tests for personhood which he has laid out. He says it is unreasonable to expect the newborn to be classified as persons, and we should not automatically assume they have some basic right to keep living.

As he notoriously wrote with Helga Kuhse in the 1985 volume, Should the Baby Live?: “We do not think new-born infants have an inherent right to life”. Or as he wrote in a July 1983 edition of Pediatrics: “Species membership in Homo-sapiens is not morally relevant. If we compare a dog or a pig to a severely defective infant, we often find the non-human to have superior capacities.”

There you have it: abortion, euthanasia, and even infanticide, with a bit of bestiality thrown in on the side. And this is from a world leading ethicist. No wonder the world’s ethics are so incredibly screwed up. With a guy like this teaching thousands of students a year about these kinds of values, it will be hard not to be heading for moral meltdown big time.

In the article he refers to the death of children due to poor drinking water, or lack of basic healthcare, saying, “You can help to stop these unnecessary deaths”. Yes a very worthy cause indeed. But his words ring absolutely hollow. I wait for the day when he says similar things about children still in the womb, or those newly born.

He really should spare us these moral motions about a child’s life. Indeed, with 45 to 50 million unborn children killed each year by abortion – all with the full approval of Singer – these 8 million tragic childhood deaths almost seem to pale in comparison.

Why in the world should we buy his jaundiced naturalistic worldview which allows him to show compassion to some human beings, but results in so much cold-heartedness concerning so many other human beings? What kind of worldview is this which sees only some humans in only some conditions as being worthy of life?

Where have we heard this kind of twisted and poisonous morality before? Oh yeah, it was back there in Germany just a half century ago. We certainly have heard all this before. Lots of lives are just not worthy of life and the “experts” will inform us as to which lives will be allowed to live, and which must go.

If Singer were around in 1920 it is not hard to imagine him lecturing ethics students about the great value of a new book which appeared then in Germany. He would probably have this volume on his required reading list, and even test his students on it at the end of term.

I refer of course to the work by Alfred Hoche and Karl Binding. It was called Die Freigabe der Vernichtung lebensunwerten Lebens (The Authorization of the Destruction of Life Unworthy of Life). It nicely laid the groundwork for the sordid activities of the Nazis.

Indeed, so marred and scarred has the German psyche been since the Holocaust and the Nazi reign of terror, that when someone like Singer goes to Germany today to deliver lectures in “ethics” he is roundly booed and rejected by angry protestors. Some of his talks have even been cancelled as a result.

The Germans have good reason to be wary of the Singer gospel of death. They lived through it, and millions died as this utilitarian philosophy was put into lethal practice. Yet incredibly Singer has expressed surprise at such reactions, especially from German disability groups and the like.

But none of this has stopped Peter Singer from traipsing around the world, teaching us about his version of morality, or rather, immorality, or amorality. He expects us to take him seriously when he writes about sickly children, yet he thinks we should be able to bump off other sickly children, and sick old folks, and all sorts of other expendable “non-persons”.

Singer will undoubtedly keep drawing large crowds and earn hefty fees as he preaches his version of morality. And morally-vacuous newspapers like the Age will be happy to keep running with his stuff. But just remind me again: what was that word that starts with ‘hypo’ and ends with ‘crisy’?

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16 Replies to “Peter Singer’s Twisted Ethics”

  1. I remember sitting in one of Peter Singer’s philosophy lectures at uni back in my younger days. He encountered stiff opposition from a majority of students and we had a very healthy debate. What worries me is that I hear very few people disagreeing with him nowadays. I suspect that the average uni students in a philosophy lecture would accept his arguments without a murmur. Students aren’t being taught to think and reason anymore – they’re just toeing a party line!
    Mishka Gora

  2. Isn’t it amazing how Germany has refused him at times because they know what he is talking about and the horror that it brings! It is sad to think that Australia is and will go through a ‘holocaust’ of its own, but without realisation of the implications that it brings. Surely had we been a country that went through the things that Germany did, we would perhaps stand up for what is right. Unfortunately, Singer has slipped in silently because of the silent nature of abortion compared to what the Nazis did. It saddens me to know that we no longer look to God who has the authority over life and death. I just pray that Australia does not continue to fall into Singer and his teachings so deep that we regret our actions in the way that Germany did, and I’m sure still does.
    Naomi Kerber

  3. I’m with you Bill. I’m absolutely astounded at his ‘call to arms’ here. Just doesn’t seem to align at all with his other ethical views on abortion and euthanasia. We can only pray that this will be the start of a radical shift in his thinking!
    Joel Hawting

  4. Singer wants us to care just as much about those o/s as our own children. He has a kind of extreme internationalist agenda. In doing this he ignores the inbuilt human tendency to care for those in biological and emotional proximity to us, i.e. ourselves, our families, friends, neighbours, fellow countrymen. This was the emphasis of the church since the beginning coming down to us through the likes of Augustine and Aquinas. It is a legitimate expression of self-love.

    Singer of course ignores the natural law as he does on so many other issues.

    Damien Spillane

  5. “Child’s life is the best Mother’s Day gift.”

    I can, at least, agree with this statement. In fact I just read an article encouraging people to honour birth mothers on Mother’s Day. Those women who for some reason couldn’t or didn’t want to raise their baby but went through the pain, shame and embarrassment of an unwanted pregnancy to give their baby the best they could. Life in a loving adoptive family.

    Mother’s day can be bitter-sweet for these women but at least the have the give of knowing there child is being loved by someone else and was not killed and labelled “medical waste”.

    Then there are those who are pressured to abort their child because of a disability or deformity and choose life. Those mother’s who are greeted with a Down’s syndrome smile or a stumpy armed hug that says, thank-you for loving me even thought I’m not perfect.

    Yes, Mr Singer, knowing you chose life for your child is the best mother’s day gift.

    Kylie Anderson

  6. Apparently there is an inherent need in each human to believe that they are a ‘good’ person and I guess Singer’s subjective and selective ‘moral code’ helps him to justify his horrendous murderous, utilitarian instincts. He devotes a great service to satan by blurring the lines on right and wrong and upending what he no doubt sees as ‘traditional morals’. Another high priest of moral chaos.
    Dee Graf

  7. Utilitarianism is not a viable ethical system that people can live by. It is supposed to be empirical on principle but is noticeably not driven by facts. It is supposed to be practical but in practice would be unwieldy to the point of incoherence. If you look through the professional philosophical literature you’ll find that utilitarianism in any form has not fared well. This particular ethical theory is commonly associated with a Materialistic/Naturalistic mindset. As far as I know no one has logically derived moral truths from the core propositions of philosophical Materialism. Personally I think that when it comes to moral philosophy Materialists and utilitarians are whistling in the dark. They are in a moral desert of their own intellectual making.
    John Snowden

  8. Yes, John Snowden; we can do the greatest good for the greatest number by dispensing with utilitarianism.
    Michael Watts

  9. How can Singer speak of ethics?
    If his explanation of the cosmos is evolution, then there is no right or wrong in this world, and nothing is either ethical or unethical.

    In Singer’s mind it must all come down to survival advantage – If a woman pays a doctor to kill her baby, then that action (Singer must agree) is to the woman’s advantage.

    Then it follows from an evolutionary point of view, the freedom from having to raise the child promotes the woman’s survivability – he can’t speak of abortion being right or wrong.

    Rightness or wrongness can only be assessed against a standard -if an action is in accord with the standard, it is right. But Singer can’t use that argument.

    Phil Manley

  10. I agree with Joel “I’m with you Bill. I’m absolutely astounded at his ‘call to arms’ here. Just doesn’t seem to align at all with his other ethical views on abortion and euthanasia. We can only pray that this will be the start of a radical shift in his thinking!” Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies, having faith that the Father will bring about change, however we are expected to act. Faith without works is dead faith.

    Bill what can we do to effect change? What do you think it will take to awaken people to the dangers of the like of Peter Singer?

    Fred Merlo

  11. The sad thing is that many young people will study Peter Singer’s book on ethics during courses on philosophy, and will often be swayed by what he says, without understanding the horrifying implications.

    In effect, what he advocates is eugenics, a far from compassionate approach, however he cares to couch his utilitarian philosophy. The Nazis also advocated getting rid of the unfit (all in the interests of society, of course) and started with the disabled.

    This is what happens when secular progressives are allowed to take over the public discourse. And by the way, there is nothing progressive about progressives!

    Pam Renton

  12. As an atheist, I find that Peter Singer’s “ethics” are highly dangerous and repugnant, the central theme of Peter Singer’s “ethics” is the dehumanization of our entire humanity.

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