Skip to comments.The most influential philosopher alive [Infanticide Advocate Peter Singer]
Posted on 12/02/2004 6:24:24 AM PST by Unam Sanctam
PRINCETON, N.J. -- Republicans are winning elections, but the long-term problem of the left dominance within academia remains. Consider, for example, the influence of Princeton professor Peter Singer.
Many readers may be saying, "Peter who?" -- but The New York Times, explaining how his views trickle down through media and academia to the general populace, noted that "No other living philosopher has had this kind of influence." The New England Journal of Medicine said he has had "more success in effecting changes in acceptable behavior" than any philosopher since Bertrand Russell. The New Yorker called him the "most influential" philosopher alive.
Don't expect Singer to be quoted heavily on the issue that roiled the Nov. 2 election, same-sex marriage. That for him is intellectual child's play, already logically decided, and it's time to move on to polyamory. While politicians debate the definition of marriage between two people, Singer argues that any kind of "fully consensual" sexual behavior involving two people or 200 is ethically fine.
For example, when I asked him recently about necrophilia (what if two people make an agreement that whoever lives longest can have sexual relations with the corpse of the person who dies first?), he said, "There's no moral problem with that." Concerning bestiality -- should people have sex with animals, seen as willing participants? -- he responded, "I would ask, 'What's holding you back from a more fulfilling relationship?' (but) it's not wrong inherently in a moral sense."
If the 21st century becomes a Singer century, we will also see legal infanticide of born children who are ill or who have ill older siblings in need of their body parts.
Question: What about parents conceiving and giving birth to a child specifically to kill him, take his organs and transplant them into their ill older children? Singer: "It's difficult to warm to parents who can take such a detached view, (but) they're not doing something really wrong in itself." Is anything wrong with a society in which children are bred for spare parts on a massive scale? "No."
When we had lunch after our initial interview and I read back his answers to him, he said he would be "concerned about a society where the role of some women was to breed children for that purpose," but he stood by his statements. He also reaffirmed that it would be ethically OK to kill 1-year-olds with physical or mental disabilities, although ideally the question of infanticide would be "raised as soon as possible after birth."
These proposals are biblically and historically monstrous, but Singer is a soft-spoken Princeton professor. Whittaker Chambers a half-century ago wrote that, "Man without God is a beast, and never more beastly than when he is most intelligent about his beastliness," but part of Singer's effectiveness in teaching "Practical Ethics" to Princeton undergraduates is that he does not come across personally as beastly.
C.S. Lewis 61 years ago wrote "That Hideous Strength," a novel with villainous materialists employed by N.I.C.E. (the National Institute of Coordinated Experiments). Their offices were to be in a building that "would make quite a noticeable addition to the skyline of New York." But Singer sits in an unostentatious office at Princeton's Center for Human Values, which is housed in a small and homey grayish-green building with a front yard that slopes down the street. The center even has a pastoral-sounding address: 5 Ivy Lane.
C.S. Lewis's N.I.C.E. leaders are totalitarian. They use media control and a police force to push opponents into submission. Singer says he's not totalitarian because he accepts debate and says that "people can draw the line anywhere." But, within Singerism, should they? He scorns attempts to set up standards of good and evil that go beyond utilitarianism, and hopes to convince people willingly to do it his way.
The challenge for conservatives during the next several decades will be not only to win elections, but to win the intellectual battles.
All I can say to some of Singer's statements...yuk
It time that public money is used to promote bablance.
A required course at my daughter's college (Global Justice) features this man. Last year, he actually spoke on campus. This year, Monday of this week in fact, they were forced to watch a video of an interview with him. My daughter's disgust was beyond words. This requirement, more than any other factor, has shown her the bias in today's higher eduction.
I am sure we can find people who need his kidneys, heart, lungs, and eyes. Why doesn't he practice what he preaches and farm his organs out? Interesting how the living are always the ones who want to kill someone else and take something.
Relativism and Sartre wrapped in contemporary clothing.
Intellectuals don't exist unless you want them to and, whenever I hear the word "professor" I always reach for my "Buy 'em for what they're worth, sell 'em for what they think they're worth" Table.
Moral Absolutes Ping.
Singer is definitely an evil person. It would be good to have an indepth article about his beliefs, his ideas of right and wrong, for better understanding of him and those he influences. Singer is obviously an avowed atheist.
Parents - DON'T send your kids to Princeton!
Let me know if anyone want on/off this pinglist.
The greatest evil is not done in those sordid dens of evil that Dickens loved to paint but is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. C. S. Lewis
Conservatives who sneer at ivory tower elitists forget that said ivory tower is the control tower for our society. I would argue that the limited degree of success that conservative and pro-market ideas have experienced in public policy have been achieved through neo-conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Claremont Institute, and even libertarian think tanks like the Cato Institute. Despite these successes, conservatives have not carried the struggle into the academic arena. Except for a few, relatively unknown colleges like Hillsdale in Michigan or Grove City in Pennsylvania, there is no serious challenge to the liberal and secular humanist death grip over the prestigious private and state run universities. The lure of these schools attracts many of the "best and brightest" from traditionally Christian and culturally and politically conservative families just as the "sex, drugs, and rock and roll" popular culture destroys some of the less intelligent or upright from such families.
Restoration of the American republic is dependent in the long run upon the development of an elite that can take on the current ruling class. Talk radio, the Internet, alternative schooling (home school and private), and evangelical congregations have done some good. But the agenda of restoration must be continued in other arenas.
I've read more indepth stuff about P. Singer, detailing his views about bestiality and other depravities. The man is really, really repellent.
Really, really repellent.
Anyone defending, supporting or promoting evil is just as responsible as the schmo who actually does the deed. In Singer's case, maybe even more so, since he attempts to influence many people. He has a load of very heavy debt to pay. I won't say anything more as someone may take it amiss.
This line of thought was used by supporters of Eugenics, as well as NAZI "medical researchers" like Dr Mengele. It's nice to know that Princeton University has this professor of "ethics."
Singer is giving a talk at the philosophy dept at Rutgers (where I'm a grad student) right at this very moment. I chose not to attend because I'm too disgusted with the man. To paraphrase GEM Anscombe, if someone needs a rational argument to convince them that infanticide is wrong, I do not wish to debate with him, for he shows a corrupt mind.
A frightening trio - Singer, Soros, and Dr. Ronald Cranford. All have brought the culture of death to our country with much success over the last decade.
Your comments are right on. The only reason leftists and amoralists have achieved the influence and prominence they have is because conservatives - especially those with religous values - have been wimps. We've let them encroach. And if we don't stop their onslaught, the future is very dark indeed.
The instruction of "turn the other cheek" is for personal insult, not when barbarians are tearing down the walls.
Pardon my ignorance, but who is Ronald Cranford?
For the record, Singer's utilitarian philosophy is quite different philosophically from existentialism. They may arrive at similar conclusions on occasion, but. even if so, they are using a completely different method from very divergent perspectives.
Singer is of the belief that parents should be able to do away with their childern up to a certain age (6 months I believe) should they feel burdened by them.
I'm not kidding. The precise amount of time he prescribes I don't have at my finger ttips, but I suspect I'm on the low side in my encapsulation.
Now, in spite of all this post modernism ad nauseum that we hear from Singer, the fact is, most would call him a looney for the idea I just encapsulated above. Hell, the biggest liberals I know wouldn't accept this . So why would he espouse such views? Sure, it's reasonable to assume that he's just another lefty, but his theories have long struck me as the product of a penchant for irony; in other words, I often wonder if Singer isn't simply taking current values to their ultimate end. Buckley once wrote, in a short treatise against abortion, that he had yet to find any evidence (paraphrasing) that there is anything tangibly different between an infant in the womb 3 weeks prior to birth and one who was 3 weeks out of birth. Singer's theory that parents should bbe able to terminate their children within a "reasonable" amount of time after birth suggests the same thing as the Buckley theory.
In short, so callous is Singer's theory that I can't help but think he's simply being ironic.
If Singer were a Conservative, he could very well be making our point with these hair brained theories of his:" You think late term abortion is okay? hell, why not kill em after birth?" That's where post modern theory is heading afterall. Are you sure you want to board this train?
Years from now, I won't be surprised if Singer either writes memoirs for posthumous publication afterr hhis death, or comes clean to the effect that he lets the world know he's been playing their liberal sensibilities to the hilt.
He once testified that a police officer should be taken off mechanical ventilation, and the police officer not only regained consciousness but almost all of his abilities as well.
"Dr. Ronald Cranford, the euthanasia advocate who hopes to help Pete Busalacchi take care of Christine when she is brought to Minnesota, had a similar case in 1979. Sgt. David Mack was shot in the line of duty as a policeman, and Cranford diagnosed him as "definitely...in a persistent vegetative state...never [to] regain cognitive, sapient functioning...never [to] be aware of his condition." Twenty months after the shooting Mack woke up, and eventually regained nearly all his mental ability."
"A Minnesota neurologist, Ronald Cranford, an expert witness in the Nancy Cruzan case, testified that he would consider even spoon-feeding Nancy Cruzan to be "medical treatment."
"Michael appointed Dr. Ronald Cranford, who publicly labels himself Dr. Humane Death, as a consultant in the case."
He pretty much founded the field of bioethics. Find a court case where a family is trying to have a helpless member killed by dehydration, and you will most likely find this man testifying on behalf of death.
Ah - a death dealer.
I have to admit, Singer (by which I mean reading ABOUT Singer) has often impressed me the same way. You call it
"ironic", and that's a good word for it. I wish it were so.
I wish they were merely playing a role, serving some abstract cultural purpose to see what would happen if every idea were taken as far as it could go.
But I've noticed that MOST academics, especially those whogenerally fit in the big bag of "The Humanities" are in fact ALL THEORY, and the University and its at-all-costs
promotion of "The Life of the Mind" does nothing but encourage this way of thinking. I talk to relatives who are in academe, and I'm appalled at the degree to which every idea for them has the same relativistic value. All they basically do is read, and , for them, I would invert the old
cliche, and say "The unlived life is not worth examining".
Peter Singer is probably one of, if not the, most darkened souls in America...
Oh joy...now I am compelled to actually read some of this vermin's work.
Know thy enemy.
Yet wherever Seeger's syllogistic path takes us, the conclusions will remain the same: Without God, without the supreme lawgiver, there are no moral absolutes nor justification for ethical conventions(Apologies to Dr. Schaffer for such a simplistic distillation).
However, where are our Harvards, Yales, MITs, Stanfords, Dukes, etc.? Even in colleges run by the Catholic Church and evangelical denominations, liberals are very well represented and often even dominate. (Think Georgetown, the oldest and arguably the most prestigious Catholic university in America, or Baylor, the flagship of Southern Baptist universities. Both are in the hands of liberals.)
Money is the mother's milk of academia. In the prestigious private universities, much of the funding comes from the upper classes and philanthropies. Despite leftist ranting about corporate America being reactionary, the fact is that most great fortunes in this country are in the hands of people that are liberal or at most moderate. It is far easier to think of billionaire liberals, even outside the sphere of entertainment, like Bill Gates, George Soros, or Warren Buffett, than of conservative ones. Forty years ago, there were numerous very wealthy conservatives, such as H.L. Hunt, Henry Salvatori, and J. Howard Pew, who helped fund conservative political organizations, universities, and churches. Furthermore, the large tax-free foundations are predominantly liberal and have been so for decades, such as the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Fund. Several foundations whose founders were conservative, such as those established by J. Howard Pew and Ray Kroc, have recently gone over to the "dark side" after the founders died and liberal relatives or administrators took over.
Until we can develop the funding sources, the "good guys" cannot create or develop institutions with the influence and prestige of the Ivy League and other elite institutions.
Go into business, young conservative man, go into business.
Excellent points. Unfortunately I am no longer young and have a *rotten* head for business.
I hope there are many younguns coming up that are unlike me in that regard!
If the truth is available through reason, where does faith fit in? This has been a classic bone of contention, with Aristotle leading the pack your way. But can you know anything solely through faith?
I think you need faith to believe that reason will lead you to the truth. Faith is the foundation of reason -- it's the condition of possibility for reason.
I should add that faith without reason leads to crude fanatacism. Suicide bombers being one good example.
Wasn't he with the original Weavers...I loved it when they sang, "If I Had a Hammer."
I don't see how anyone can come to the conclusion through reason that the Trinity is a true description of God. It is self-contradcitory and without reason. The truth of it is perceived entirely through faith.
People reject G-D as the only source of morality will ultimately have no morals at all.