Here at UD we have been discussing first principles over the last several weeks, and those discussions came to mind when I read about the recent paper After-birth Abortion: Why Should the Baby Live?, in which Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva argue in good Nazi fashion that some newborn babies have Lebensunwertes Leben (“life unworthy of life”).
In this article Gabby Speach makes all kinds of philosophical arguments against the Giubilini/Minerva thesis. Unfortunately, while in the main I agree with Ms. Speach, her article is all but useless and will not convince anyone who is not already convinced. Why? Because she is trying to argue for first principles and that is a losing proposition. First principles must be accepted as self-evident. They are the foundation upon which all arguments are built, and just as one cannot put the foundation on the third floor, one cannot construct arguments for first principles. By definition those who resist first principles have, at the very least, deeply disordered minds. They may also be, as in this case, profoundly evil. The response to such people is not to argue with them but to resist them. Their ideas should be rejected categorically and if they act on those ideas they should be punished severely.
In her paper Ms. Speach argues that killing babies is wrong because they are human beings who are moral persons because they are rational beings. Nonsense. Killing babies is wrong because they are human beings. Full stop. And why is it wrong to kill human beings? Because they, of all creatures, are the only ones created Imago Dei. Ms. Speach seems to believe that one can ground the prohibition on killing humans in pure unaided reason. This is simply not the case. If God exists and he has prohibited the killing of human beings because they are created in his image, then it is objectively evil to kill humans. As the Talmud puts it, he who kills a man is considered to have destroyed the entire world.
On the other hand, if God does not exist it is not wrong to kill anyone, if by “wrong” we mean “to transgress against an objective and transcendent moral law.” Richard Dawkins is right about one thing. If God does not exist in the universe “there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” If God does not exist we might still have a strong opinion that killing babies is wrong. But what if someone else has a strong opinion that killing babies is a good idea? Who is to arbitrate between our strong opinions? That’s right, no one.
Famous infanticide apologist Peter Singer notes that pro-life people “do not know how to argue against anyone who agrees with them that the fetus and newborn infant have the same moral status, but then denies that merely existing as an innocent living human being is enough to give a being a right to life.” Peter Singer is right. I do not know how to argue with someone who denies that it is wrong to kill innocent human beings, and the reason I do not know how to argue for that proposition is that there are no arguments to support it. Instead, as a first principle, it is the foundation from which arguments begin, and only evil men deny it.
Peter Singer, Alberto Giubilini, and Francesca Minerva are evil men. It is not rational to argue with evil, because arguing with evil is pointless. Evil must not be argued with; it must be resisted, with force if necessary.