Friday, 17 August 2012

Are you a muggle non-person?

Peter Singer's ideas on who/what has a right to life have been confronting me and others in several different forums this week, so it is timely to draw your attention to some interesting discussions of his views from a Catholic perspective.

The Dumbledore vs Voldemort view of human nature

Singer appeared on Q&A on Monday I gather, and that has prompted what sounds to me like a very good - and certainly an entertaining - analysis of his position by Bishop Peter Comensoli of Sydney in a great podcast on Xt3.

The bishop's analyis suggests that Singer's differentiation of humans on the basis not just of their nature (human) but also their capabilities (such as whether they have rationality, volition and consciousness, making them 'persons') is pretty much the Voldemort view of muggles.

This is Harry Potter speak - muggles are humans, and they look just like those with magic (wizards), but because they are lacking something vital in their nature, they are non-persons without the same rights as real people (wizards).

I don't know enough about Singer's ideas to know if that works as well as it sounds, and there is more to his analysis than that, do go and listen.

Whose suffering counts?

The Q&A appearance also sparked a rather good piece on The Drum from a woman who rather takes issue with the notion advocated by Singer that her parents ought to have been given a month or so after she was born to decide whether or not to kill because of the suffering she and her family would experience asa result of her being born with a disability (a condition affects growth and bone strength).

The problem, as Hilary White points out over at the Life Site, is that Singer is not an isolated neo-Nazi nutter.  He is an internationally respected philsopher whose ideas have profoundly influenced the culture, sucking in people who ought to know better. 

Ms White argues that if the pro-life movement wants to be effective, it is not enough to depend on the shock factor associated with individual cases; rather the philosophical underpinnings of our culture have to be reclaimed.

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