06 January 2005

Peter Singer

I found this story about Peter Singer while surfing the Internet. Like most leftists, he can't believe that an intelligent person can be religious. This shows how detached he is from reality. Religion has nothing to do with intelligence. It has everything to do with finding meaning in life.

Addendum: Notice how Singer keeps saying that such-and-such an act is not "inherently" or "intrinsically" wrong. This implies that he thinks some acts are intrinsically wrong, i.e., wrong in themselves, because of the kinds of act they are. He doesn't. Singer is a consequentialist. That an act is of a certain type, e.g., homicide, torture, incest, bestiality, adultery, lying, or breaking a promise, is morally irrelevant to him. The only thing that matters, to a consequentialist, is an act's consequences. If an act of homicide or torture brings about the best overall consequences (which, logically, it could), it is right. If an act of keeping a promise or telling the truth doesn't bring about the best overall consequences, it is wrong. What Princeton University needs in order to counter Singer's teaching is not a religious ethicist, as Marvin Olasky suggests, but a deontologist, someone for whom the type of act one performs is morally relevant. Not all religious ethicists are deontologists and not all deontologists are religious.

By the way, I find Singer's recourse to consent interesting. Consent is a deontological concept. It is linked to rights-possession, which Singer, qua consequentialist, disavows. If a particular act brings about the best overall consequences, it is irrelevant that not everyone affected by the act consents to it. Put differently, if consent has moral significance, then people cannot be used as mere means to collective ends as Singer wishes. As this shows, Singer is not only a bad philosopher; he's a bad consequentialist. Sometimes he appears not to understand his own theory.

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