Friday, October 14, 2005

Peter Singer on the ethics of eyebrow plucking (bad) and the killing of infants (good).

Peter Singer, the Princeton ethicist, believes that it's morally wrong to spend $100 on having your eyebrows professionally plucked.

This is the same Peter Singer who advocates infanticide of less-than-perfect infants for up to 28 days after a child is born (or actually even up to a year later, though he says the sooner the better).

He also says it would be OK to conceive a child in order to kill it to harvest the organs for another child, that bestiality, necrophilia, and a variety of other, ummmm, choices, are all fine.

But that $100 eyebrow thing? Bad, very bad. I learned this bit of ethical wisdom from reading the Chicago Tribune's entertainment section yesterday.

You can read more about Mr. Singer, including this about how he usually would advocate saving a human being over a mouse from a burning building (on the grounds that the mouse's family probably wouldn't mind quite as much as the human's family would), but that in some cases, perhaps the better choice would be to save the mouse.

No, I'm not making that up. It's from his own website. (Though I admit I checked it a couple times to make sure it wasn't a spoof site. It's not.)

And this man teaches "Practical Ethics" at Princeton.

Oh, and just for the record: I wouldn't spend $100 on an eyebrow tweeze. But I still think that killing a one-month old Down syndrome baby would be worse.

But maybe that's just me.


Anonymous said...

Great post on the unethical ethics man Pete Singer.... Thought a good alternate title for this post could have been: "Singer Hits Bad Note Again" haha


TKls2myhrt said...

I am completely speechless!

Lance Burri said...

Nope. It's not just you.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps instead of taking other people's (a professor of journalism and a knowledgeable constitutional scholar--notice no expert in bioethics or philosophy here...hmmm are these really the right people to look to in refuting a theory of ETHICS?) interpretations of Peter Singer's works one should actually READ Singer's works. These articles have taken small lines from Peter Singer's comprehensive works out of context. One must understand the nature of conditionals (if-then) statements and how Singer makes use of them in forming consistent positions. I notice you left out the argument that Singer makes in taking a consistent position in helping those in need (see "Famine, Affluence, and Morality," Philosophy & Public Affairs). Can we all agree that suffering, starvation, lack of shelter, etc. are bad? Then how can we live with ourselves spending money on, let's be honest, vain and extravagant purchases such as $100 eyebrow waxes? A little more than $100 a month can provide clean water for people in 84 villages. For a productive use of time, I recommend spending time on Oxfam's website; it might put things in a little more perspective in dealing with real issues.

Anonymous said...

No offense but the previous blogger said that "These lines have been taken out of context" This is rediculous. In any context they are vile. Hitler's words and writing have been taken out of context as well. Does that mean we should have compassion for hitler and his teachings? remember that hitler was a mover of men! he was great with foreign policy! he united a country! Maybe we should let that little bits and pieces about killing the jews and ethnic cleansing slide because of his other "great works". Please dear person, have a backbone and have the courage to see evil for what it is.