Monday, June 30, 2008

Great Apes are People, Infants Aren't

Recall Peter Singer, the Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University? He who argues that, "Simply killing an infant is never equivalent to killing a person", and that perfectly healthy, normal infants can be killed if their parents want to?

Well, despite those troubling stances, he is probably more known for his animal rights activism - particularly that of great apes. He has written extensively about affording legal rights to chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans and is part of a group called the Great Ape Project (GAP).

This group recently achieved a major advancement in Spain, where:
"Members of parliament's environmental committee urged the government to comply with the "Great Apes Project", backed by scientists and philosophers who argue man's closest genetic relatives deserve such accords."
The law is likely to pass, giving our closest genetic relatives basic human rights - meaning they can't be used in experiments or be killed.

How genetically close to humans are they? According to GAP Board Member, Dr. Pedro A. Ynterian,
"Between the two of us we could even have a 0.5% difference in our DNA. The difference between a Chimpanzee and us is only 1.23%. Human blood and Chimpanzee blood, with compatible blood groups, can be exchanged through transfusion. Neither our nor the chimps blood can be exchanged with any other species.

We are closer genetically to a chimp than a mouse is to a rat."
Which is all well and good, but how is it that Peter Singer is so concerned with the life of a non-human (but genetically close to human) and simultaneously show such unconcern with 100% genetically actual humans - infants. He is part of a group that has lobbied for 14 years to get world governments to recognize the right to life of chimpanzees, while at the same time advocating the permissability of killing a 2 day, 2 month, even 2 year old child.

All because of his stout defense of what makes a person a person.

Here's hoping someday I don't fall out of this ethics professor's definition.

4 comments:

Salt H2O said...

I wonder how he's feel about Ape abortion....

Animal activists kill me, save the animals but the human fetus is worthless!

Jobu said...

Will the Supreme Court's recent decision on the Second Amendment apply to apes and chimpanzees as well?

If the-apes-are-human crowd prevails in general, then the NRA will be forced to argue for apes having the right to bear arms because it would be a foot in the door on the slippery slope to a full-on gun ban if apes, who are human, are denied gun rights.

Democracy Lover said...

Salty is struck by the hypocrisy of animal activists who are pro-choice. I am struck by the hypocrisy of anti-abortion activists who are pro-war and pro-death-penalty.

As we have discussed before, Singer is trying to find a scientifically-based, logical and consistent ethic to apply to the questions of human life and death. He is unwilling to settle for subjective, myth-based, illogical and/or inconsistent ethical positions. I'm sure the apes are happy about his work.

Cameron said...

And I'm struck by the absurdity of killing two year olds while securing a chimpanzee's "right to life" and calling that a "consistent ethic".

That's no ethic at all.