Tonight, in one of my MCCC logic classes, I am presenting, as an example of logical argumentation, Peter Singer’s argument for infanticide. (Note: I don't advocate infanticide. But Singer's argument is famous, and followed.)
Singer argues, in his essay “Taking Life: Humans” (1993), that it is morally acceptable to kill, in some cases, disabled infants. (Note: Singer has since refined his views.)
Before I show you the argument, here are some of Singer’s assumptions.
1. A “person” has self-consciousness.
2. Fetuses and newborn babies do not possess self-consciousness. They are “merely conscious.”
a. “The fact that a being is a human being, in the sense of a member of the species Homo sapiens, is not relevant to the wrongness of killing it; it is, rather, characteristics like rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness that make a difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings, or any other self-conscious beings.”
4. “Killing a self-conscious being is a more serious matter than killing a merely conscious being. Killing a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Very often it is not wrong at all.”
5. Being a member of the human species is irrelevant to a baby’s moral status.
6. A parent may want to “replace” (the “replaceability thesis”) their defective baby with another baby, hopefully to be born.
1. If we can morally kill a disabled fetus that has no self-consciousness, it follows that we can morally kill a disabled infant that has no self-consciousness.
2. We can morally kill a disabled fetus that has no self-consciousness.
3. Therefore, we are morally justified in killing a disabled infant that has no self-consciousness.