There is a whole lot of nonsense out there when it comes to bio-ethics and social ethics. Chief prognostic
Partying Toward Extinction
Peter Singer and Humanity
June 24, 2010 by Chuck Colson
Ethicist Peter Singer has done it again. The
Princetonprofessor, you may remember, is best known for cre ating controversy by tre ating such practices as infanticide, euthanasia and bestiality as morally neutral. Now he has an op-ed in the online New York Times titled "Should This Be the Last Gener ation?"
This time, Singer is considering the idea of not just getting rid of the elderly or the disabled, but total human extinction.
You'll be relieved to hear th
atSinger has no immedi ate plans to try to bring this about. He's not even really advoc ating it. But he still believes it's a topic worth considering. As Singer explains it—based on the writings of philosopher David Ben atar—if we as a society keep having children, many of them are guaranteed to suffer, so we might actually be doing future gener ations a favor if we refrained from bringing them into existence.
Thus, Singer writes, "Of course, it would be impossible to get agreement on universal steriliz
ation, but just imagine th atwe could. Then is there anything wrong with this scenario?
"For one thing," Singer continues, "we can get rid of all th
atguilt about wh atwe are doing to future gener ations—and it doesn't make anyone worse off, because there won't be anyone else to be worse off."
In the end, as I indic
ated, Singer doesn't go all the way with this line of thinking. He acknowledges th atit would be wrong to choose a universe without sentient beings.
Glad to hear it. I have some things I'd like to consider, too.
If you were looking to caric
ature utilitarian thinking like Singer's, you couldn't do a better job than wh atSinger has done to himself. Utilitarianism seeks to increase happiness and reduce the amount of pain. Nothing reduces pain like elimin ating everyone capable of feeling it.
Sure, the remaining animals would could still feel physical pain, but every animal's pain, i.e., being e
aten is more than balanced out by the happiness being felt by those doing the e ating. The net increase in happiness would be undeniable in a "kumbaya/circle of life" way of thinking.
And of course, animals, many of whom abandon their young before they are actually born don't feel guilt about wh
atthey are doing to future gener ations. It's gre atto have a selfish gene.
And Singer needn't worry about getting agreement about universal steriliz
ation: no one who believed th atsuch a measure was necessary for the sake of future gener ation has ever waited for such agreement—they just did it.
They didn't let consider
ation for the rights and dignity of others get in the way of wh atwas best for the future. "Three gener ations of imbeciles are enough," and all th atjazz.
They could do it because they had already decided th
atthere wasn't anything inherently sacred and worthwhile about human life. To them, the future lay not in God's hands but in their own—they, not God, decided who did and did not have a future.
As I said, Singer is "nicer" than th
at. He's not a monster. Instead, he wants us to imagine being monsters together. Like I said, caric ature.