Life and Death Matters: Losing a Sense of the Value of Human Beings
Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 2005; 26(3): 207-226
The essay combines a specific and a more general theme. In attacking 'the doctrine of the sanctity of human life' Singer takes himself thereby to be opposing the conviction that human life has special value. I argue that this conviction goes deep in our lives in many ways that do not depend on what Singer identifies as central to that 'doctrine', and that his attack therefore misses its main target. I argue more generally that Singer's own moral philosophy affords only an impoverished and distorted sense of the value of human life and human beings. In purporting to dig below the supposedly illusion-ridden surface of our thinking about value, Singer in fact often leads us away from the robust terrain of our lived experience into rhetorical, and sometimes brutal, fantasy.
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