Recently, two ‘ethicists’ (I use this term very liberally, as in they talk about ethics, not that they’ve come to any substantial conclusion) have published the idea that it’s okay to kill infants as they are not really persons. The standard they offer for being a person with a right to life is, “…individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.” Of course, such a standard is asinine to anyone who has taken a basic course in logic and knows anything about humans, or animals in general.
The irony is that everything in existence with some sense of rationality, even at a bare minimum, views losing one’s life as a loss. This is why gazelle run away from lions, why spiders run away from a falling shoe, and why babies cry when they get hungry; no creature in life accepts death, all creatures struggle against it. Thus, by this standard we should conclude that (1) no one meets this standard, thus we can kill whoever we want or (2) everything meets this standard, so we shouldn’t kill anything (including any plants that have natural defense mechanisms built in).
Of course, such an absurdly stupid standard can be turned on the philosophers who wrote this tripe. For instance, they were quite upset at the death threats they received over the publication of their article. Aside from the fact that being pro-life, yet threatening the life of another is a tad bit hypocritical, these two individuals are in no better position as they are being hypocritical. The fact is, I cannot know anyone’s mind, thus I cannot know if these two individuals have attributed some basic value to being deprived of their existence. They may say so and act so, but infants do this as well, as do all other animals (all animals act as though losing their life would constitute the loss of something of value). So I can’t trust their actions or what they say. Now, the key word is “capable,” but even this doesn’t mean much – again, all animals fight to survive, indicating that all animals are capable of attributing value to their lives.
With the above in mind, using the standard of these philosophers, what’s wrong with killing them? By their standard, when applied properly, how would anyone be wrong for terminating their lives? Not in a legal sense, but in a moral sense, they are now left attempting to defend why it would be wrong to kill them. Perhaps these ethicists should thank us pro-life philosophers and thank the Judeo-Christian tradition of the West, lest the mentality of “kill everyone who disagrees” were to take hold.
Yet, in all the arguments for the pro-choice position, every single one of them attempts to (1) create an arbitrary standard for what it means to be a “person” and (2) accepts Cartesian dualism without batting an eye, not realizing that there’s good reason that personhood is tied into our very nature; that is, personhood is not something we acquire or develop, rather it is something that we hone. With such standards, is it any surprise that we can apply them to any situation in life? Those people living in extreme poverty are not really “persons” because they’ve lacked the proper education to really develop personhood; so it’d just be better if we killed them. While some might argue, “Yes, but they can learn!” I would quickly point out that so can an infant, given time. “But an infant has to grow up and develop the capacity for learning!” And how does an infant do this but by learning? Thus, the capacity for learning already exists, just in a smaller degree to the person living in extreme poverty. Therefore, if it’s right to kill the infant, it’s right to kill the person in poverty, but if it’s wrong to kill the person in poverty, then it’s wrong to kill the infant.
The full post that I want to make to this will take a bit longer as I want to put more effort into it and write an actual reply to the article. This one is simply my initial thoughts; suffice it to say, I’m a bit dismayed at the article because (1) it’s morally abhorrent and (2) if this is the level of what it takes to get into Oxford or Cambridge, then it would seem that education is suffering everywhere, not just in America.