Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pigs Flying at Windmills....

This week, I read where Peter Singer (famed Bio-ethicist and Princeton University professor) gave an interview with Nina Streeck in a Swiss Newspaper.

I've made no secret of my contempt for his "ethics" in the past, when his own university page states the following:

“Newborn human babies have no sense of their own existence over time. So killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living. That doesn’t mean that it is not almost always a terrible thing to do. It is, but that is because most infants are loved and cherished by their parents, and to kill an infant is usually to do a great wrong to its parents."

He's  also advocated granting personhood to some apes/chimpanzees, dolphins, and artificial intelligence (machines), while denying that same label to children like my son Paul, or like my father after Alzheimer's claimed his capacity to express his intellect.  

But today, he revealed his consistency of mind, that utilitarianism brought to its logical conclusion must reach.    

Q: If you were standing in front of a burning house, where 200 pigs and a child, and you could save either the animals or the child, what would you do?

Singer: The suffering of animals at some point so great that you should decide to free the animals and not the child. Whether this point is reached at 200 or two million animals, I do not know. But one must not be burned countless animals in order to save a child’s life.

I have to ask, (it was no where in the article), what constitutes countless?  How many pork bellies is a child's life worth? Or when does a child outweigh a pork belly in Professor Singer's calculations?   

The questions in my mind snowballed.

If a child might not be worth the cost of 200 little piggies, then would Singer advocate rescuing the babe if there were only 100 that'll do pigs trapped in the barn?

What if the burning barn held fifty prize winning some kind of pigs?  Would the child be worth saving then?

Or ten?   

What if the child had Down Syndrome, or was very young (newborn) or had any other disability and thus wasn't healthy like the pigs?   

My main beef with Professor Singer is his firm holding that some animals are more equal than others, that four legs good, two legs better, and the praise the world heaps on him for being so nuanced in his understanding of "ethics."   

Sooner or later, all of us will be weighed against whatever the going rate is for preventing the world from enjoying pulled pork, and when we don't measure up as a silk purse, we will be (by this sort of economic utilitarian thinking), worth less than a sow's ear.   

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