Friday, December 13, 2013

Does Peter Singer Believe in the Slippery Slope?

It's not a solid philosophical dynamic, I suppose, and given that I've never studied philosophy, I cannot support it with rhetoric, but it does seem to play out in real life.

Let's confine it to the issue of euthanasia or assisted suicide. 

First, the supposition was that assisted euthanasia was to be implemented only in extreme cases—great pain, a cruel death imminent. Then from Holland came reports of outright euthanasia, and thereafter no prosecution of the "healthcare" provider who killed the patient who had the issue decided for him. Then in Belgium there was the suicide of brothers going blind (brothers who were born deaf), which focused on the idea that death was better than a specific circumstance.

Slippery slope.

Now (from Slate) ...
... in Belgium Thursday, the country took a big step towards becoming the first country to allow children of any age to exercise a “right to die.” Euthanasia was legalized in the country in 2002 and is allowed for adults over age 18 in circumstances beyond terminal illness, including cases of “unbearable psychological or physical suffering,” according to the New York Times.

The amended law passed by the Senate would also permit children with “constant and unbearable physical suffering” to avail upon assisted suicide procedures as long as they were equipped “with a capacity of discernment”
I cannot decide for you how you might live your life, other than to support laws that would keep you from inflicting harm on me or others (society), and so in some manner, I do think these ever-liberalizing euthanasia laws do inflict harm on society, or at least society as we have come to see it ordered in this post-democratic era. There's some difference here, but not so very much, between the Belgium idea and that of the "ethicist" (that word is malleable) Peter Singer, who advocates what might be loosely termed post-birth abortion.

For example, given the law in Belgium, would it be a police officer's obligation to stop someone from jumping from a cliff or a tower? Why? A leap from a radio or cell phone or television tower, oh, above 200-feet or so, would make for certain death—euthanasia by gravity. Perhaps the police officer could help the "sufferer from unbearable psychological pain" climb the tower—assisted euthanasia that would be.

However, one approaches the issue the recent decision in Belgium, that allowing children to choose death, is rife with opportunities for abuse. Parents would need to "consent," as noted, but how much consent is needed before it becomes persuasion. "Aren't you so very tired of all this, honey?"

And therein lies my fear: how long before people like me—quadriplegics—will be the target of persuasion?

Society is changing—genetic manipulations, selective gender abortion, abortion of "substandard" babies, etc.—and I know there is a brave new world over the horizon, one in which every individual will be perfect according to some objective technological standard.

It would not surprise me, though, that the Brave New World will choose to require those who fail to uphold those standards of perfection to avail themselves of "assisted euthanasia."

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