Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Singer’s Utilitarianism on Parade


It is interesting that Peter Singer's approval of a monkey brain experiment is big news in the UK, but virtually ignored here. In this piece, the Independent points out (correctly) that Singer's approval of the monkey experiment is not really a change, but a different expression of his amoral utilitarianism.

Singer believes in policies that maximize the "interests" of the most parties. I say parties because he believes that the interests of animals (as humans determine them to be, since animals don't even understand the concept) should be given equal consideration to those of people. Thus, rather than use chimps in hepatitis vaccine experiments, Singer once suggested using cognitively disabled people who have lower capacities. That would mean that the interests of those who have greater worth depending on capacities would be better served (e.g., the chimps and potential hepatitis victims).

When the researcher told Singer that the sacrifice of 100 monkeys may have benefited 40,000 patients, it hit Singer's sweet spot, and he approved. But he would have approved also if those experimented upon had been infants--who he denigrates as non persons--fetuses, a collection of cognitively disabled patients like Terri Schiavo, pigs, or monkeys. This would work out fine for the powerful, but woe betide the weakest and most vulnerable humans among us.

Society must never follow the amoral "ethics" of Peter Singer. Applying such starke utilitarian precepts as official policy would lead ultimately to terrible oppression and exploitation of the most defenseless human beings among us.


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