“March Hare: …Then you should say what you mean.
Alice: I do; at least – at least I mean what I say — that’s the same thing, you know.”
I wonder if Professor Peter Singer recently read Alice in Wonderland and decided to base his philosophies on the combined wisdom of the March Hare, Mad Hatter and Doormouse. If not, it’s rather difficult to understand his piece in December 17th’s New York Times Magazine. I disagreed with his premises and conclusions from start to finish, but more intriguing to me was his avoidance of the fact that he disagrees with himself as well.
Prof. Singer, professor of bioethics at the Center for Human Values at Princeton University states, “…most of us would agree that the value of a human life would be in the millions.” Excuse me? This from a man who has previously advocated that handicapped newborns should be killed and that the same should be true for the elderly who are no longer contributing members of society?
All of a sudden he’s filled with the milk of human kindness and charity to all. Not with his own money, mind you. Instead, he suggests that others – like Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates – are obligated to end world poverty using their own funds.
The entire piece is a sanctimonious, self-righteous paean. This in the end might indeed bring it into line with the professor’s previous declarations. Because, in the past, while he was proposing that ethics necessitated shortening the lives of the elderly, he excluded his own mother from his conclusions. Now, as before, Prof. Singer has written a piece that demands no changes in his own life while making the case for overturning the lives of others. And if that is the basis for his philosophy of life, then he is indeed consistent.