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Read it and Fight


Just finished Ramesh’s Party of Death.  Comprehensive, tightly-argued—what pleasure there is simply in watching Ramesh reason!—powerful, passionately felt, and important.  An astounding piece of work.

In one of the passages by which I was particularly struck—and that I offer here to give readers a glimpse of the book’s polemical power—Ramesh demonstrates that the madman of Princeton, the pro-infanticide philosopher Peter Singer, isn’t so mad after all: 

“[P]erhaps most terrible about these apologias for child-murder is that they have a point.  They are not correct about the justifiability of infanticide; but they are correct that if abortion is justified, so is infanticide.  People who first hear of Singer’s views are apt to respond that he is simply crazy.  But if the philosophers of infanticide are insane, it is only in the Chestertonian sense:  They are not people who have lost their reason, but people who have lost everything but their reason.  They are reasoning from deeply flawed premises that they share with people who avoid endorsing child-killing only by reasoning poorly from them….

“It is easy, in advance, to imagine that our sensibilities will set limits on moral innovation.  We will liberalize abortion laws, but only for the hard cases….We will create human embryos for the purpose of experiments, but only up to the fourteenth day of life….But crossing those limits is not so difficult once we have breached the principles that forbade all such actions.  All it takes is a simple question:  What’s the difference…?  What changes at the fifteenth day?  A Supreme Court justice may tell us one day that killing should be permitted until birth, and on another day forget why he once thought birth mattered.  And there will always be Peter Singers to form the advance guard of a movement to erase the remaining limits.”

I’m tempted to say, read Party of Death and weep.  But that isn’t Ramesh’s point at all.  Read it and fight.


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