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Why hasn’t altruism eliminated Peter Singer?

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“If evolution is a struggle for survival, why hasn’t it ruthlessly eliminated altruists, who seem to increase prospects of survival at the cost of their own?” –Peter Singer, The Expanding Circle: Ethics, Evolution, and Moral Progress (1981), Chapter 1, The Origins Of Altruism, p. 5

Wasn’t Singer the guy who spent time with his own Alzheimer-stricken mother (which he dam well should have!! He probably was’t very smart when she gave birth to him and devoted thousands of hours to his care!!) but

He also advocates euthanizing victims of dementia, since their care requires resources better used for more worthy purposes”perhaps honoraria for speakers at a conference on euthanasia. But when Singer’s own mother was stricken with Alzheimer’s, he claimed her situation was “different”: “I think this has made me see how the issues of someone with these kinds of problems are really very difficult.”

What makes Singer not just controversial, but dangerous , is that he is allowed to clear a path for those who will not be so squeamish about following his arguments to their logical conclusions. Singer may now, at the mature age of 65, finally be adopting a view of morality that most of us learned in kindergarten. But other preference utilitarians may not be so flexible”or as hesitant to act on their beliefs. By treating Singer’s irrational, immoral, and psychopathic views as if they were positions held by reasonable people, we are helping to normalize anti-rational ethics.

I see nothing to add, given that court cases and legislative proposals are in process in Western jurisdictions today, following views he helped popularize, to accomplish this very thing. Including taking away a doctor’s right to refuse to kill (medical licence will be yanked, under a current proposal in Canada). A doctor at my own church was hurriedly organizing signatures against it this very morning).

Probably a done deal, unfortunately. It would save health care money, and the doctors who won’t go along – well, that kind of a system is best rid of doctors who won’t kill.

If you live in such a system, you are probably going to be hearing from state-funded airheads how it is all okay and maybe even helps evolution. If anyone is interested in how that all ends, see here.

Hat tip: Timothy Kershner

See also: An evolutionary challenge: explaining away compassion, philanthropy, and self-sacrifice


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