Pop Bioethics has a fun article out describing how a bioethicist might analyze the ethics of euthanizing zombies. But beneath the tongue in cheek, I see a serious point to be made about the threat of bioethics to human exceptionalism and universal human rights.
Kyle Munkittrick, purveyor of the site, describes three issues to consider in determining whether it is ethical to kill a zombie (actually rekill, since a zombie is technically dead): “dignity of the body, state of the infection, and potential for recovering consciousness.” Let’s just focus on the third. From, “The Ethics of Zombie Killing:”
Based on the degradation of behavior and the nature of zombification (either reanimative or rage) a baseline assumption of severe brain-damage seems reasonable. The diseases effectively necessitate demolition of the pre-frontal cortex and all brain function outside of vulgar sensation for food-seeking and cerebellar activity necessary for locomotion. There is also the real chance that the disease constructs temporary ad-hoc networks to overcome the colossal damage to the original brain function. Terminate the disease, the networks collapses and the zombie deanimates or the rage fades and the body is left in a persistent vegetative state.
Thus, the resolution is that, should a cure become available, it comes with the presumption that active killing may still be necessary to prevent further suffering.
See, this is how mainstream–read liberal–bioethicists really tend to analyze bioethical issues; establishing invidious distinctions, based on supposed ”quality of life”–that considers differing capacities, and the elimination/prevention of suffering as mattering most. This leads to a presumed license for doctors to kill the sick and devastated, the cognitively devastated to be dehydrated to death by removal of feeding tubes, and health care to be rationed based on age or disability. In other words, bioethics too often looks at real people through a distinctly utilitarian prism, rather than the sanctity/equality of life ethic–and then justifies discrimination against the weak and vulnerable in precisely the same way Munkittrick does fictional zombies.
Back to tongue in cheek, it is hardly “redeath with dignity” to drive a stake through a zombie’s brain. How about we just admit it is perfectly fine to destroy them by any means available as a matter of self defense?