Peter Singer is an (in)famous ethicist at Princeton. Thought this statement would prove both interesting and alarming:
“If we compare a severely defective human infant with a non-human animal, a dog or a pig, for example, we will often find the nonhuman to have superior capacities, both actual and potential, for rationality, self-consciousness, communication and anything else that can plausibly be consdiered morally significant… Humans who bestow superior value on the lives of all human beings, solely because they are members of our own species, are judging along lines strikingly similar to those used by white racists who bestow superior value on the lives of other whties, merely because they are members of their own race.”
In other words, Singer finds that a pig has more worth than a live human baby (he says a defective one – say one with Down’s Syndrome). He is, not surprisingly, a well-known advocate of infanticide. The moment of birth, he reasons, seems fairly arbitrary. There’s no difference between an 8 month old baby in utero and one who has been born early, except for location. Of course that logic is correct. The difference, of course, is that where I would argue along these lines for the elimination of abortion, he would argue that infanticide is justifiable for the same reasons that abortion is justifiable.
As is typical of this mentality (so common in what has been dubbed our Culture of Death), it betrays a utilitarian view of human beings – also called a functionalist view. Humans are not endowed with inherent dignity and worth (as the Bible would say); they are worth something to the degree that they are useful, to the degree they can contribute something to the greater good and meet some artificial standard of what it means to be human. You can see in Singer’s logic above the logic of radical animal-rights groups that don’t distinguish between human beings and animals. And, in an evolutionary framework, they would be right. (Before someone leaves a nasty comment, I do think that Scripture teaches that we should treat all of creation, including animals, ethically and with respect. But I firmly believe that animals are a completely different category than we humans are.)
This quote is taken from John Jefferson Davis’ Evangelical Ethics, p. 117. I post it to show that this mentality is very real, and is being taught in ETHICS at a leading Ivy League institution.