Human Exceptionalism

Terminal Nonjudgmentalism Alert: Forbes Asks Peter Singer to Name His “Five Favorite Animals”

This makes me gnash my teeth: Would any respectable magazine ask the racist David Duke to be part of a benign feature story, say, “What are Your Five Favorite Animals?”

Of course not. But Forbes–a money magazine–decided to to give Peter Singer that very forum. Peter Singer believes it is acceptable to murder babies if they don’t suit the interests of the family. (As far as I know, the odious Duke never advocated that anybody be killed.) Singer usually uses babies with Down syndrome or other disabilities as examples of the killable–although it is the purported non personhood of the baby that makes him or her disposable without moral qualm. Thus, in this view, a girl who gives birth and stuffs the baby in the toilet did nothing wrong so long as she painlessly killed the child beforehand, and a mother who can’t stand the idea of raising a child with developmental disabilities can snuff him instead.

But this is how the Forbes writer, Courtney Boyd Myers, sanitized Singer’s views:

He has drawn critical attention for his secular, utilitarian views on bioethics, such as his belief that in some cases, malformed infants should receive euthanasia. But he is also known for his tolerance toward ideas that differ greatly from his own.

Unlike those nasty absolutists who think baby killing is wrong. They are so intolerant!

This fluff nonsense illustrates so much of what has gone so desperately wrong with us: We celebrate the very people that are pushing us off the moral cliff. But hey, he likes human beings as among his five favorite animals. From the story:

Humans have done, and are still doing, immense damage to other animals, including other humans. We may yet destroy our planet and every other animal living on it. Yet I cannot leave them out of a list of my favorite animals. Nature itself is by no means benign. A world without humans would still involve a lot of pointless suffering, and it would continue indefinitely. The evolution of mammals intelligent enough to think ethically and develop a scientific understanding of our universe offers the only hope that one day things may be better.

But this is insipid, for it strongly implies that someday human beings might be able to interfere with the tooth and claw of nature and make it more benign. The only people I have ever heard of who think that way are some transhumanists who believe that uploading animal consciousnesses into computers could end predation.

Steve Forbes stopped giving money to Princeton when that university besmirched itself by giving Singer a prestigious chair. (Here’s a portion of a talk I gave at Princeton unloading on the university for that decision.) And now his magazine (I think he is still publisher) provides him with a pulpit to appear cuddly, burnishing Singer’s claim to respectability. No wonder Peter Singer’s values are triumphing. Unbelievable.

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