Human Exceptionalism

Of Peter Singer, Love, and a Beautiful Child with Down Syndrome

There was a wonderful article published in the Times of London by a father and the parenting of a child with Down syndrome. I thought of writing about it here at Secondhand Smoke, but thought the best place for it would be over at the First Things blog. It is out today.

In the article, among other matters, I compare the unconditional love of a father with the sterile utilitarian “ethics” of Peter Singer. And I conclude: “What a stark difference between the attitudes of these two men toward the weakest and most vulnerable among us, a difference that can be described literally as the distinction between loving and killing. And indeed, for those familiar with Singer’s writing, it is striking how often he writes of satisfying personal desires and how rarely he writes of sacrifice and love. Which, when you think about it, provides vivid clarity about the stakes we face in the ongoing contest for societal dominance between the sanctity/equality of life ethic and Singer’s proposed ‘quality of life’ ethic: The former opens the door to the potential for unconditional love, while the latter presumes the power to coolly dismiss some of us from life based on defective workmanship. The choice we make about these contrasting paths will determine whether we remain a moral society committed to the pursuit of universal human rights.”

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