Peter Singer is something of a house ethicist for the New York Times and especially beloved of the weak liberal thinker, Nicolas Kristof.
While I think he should be treated the same as if he were a racist for his anti-human equality views, the media here mostly ooh and aah.
That is why I was pleased to see Singer pushed in an interview by a Swiss newspaper to claim that the lives of 200 (or some other number of) pigs should be saved from a fire over that of a single human baby. From the interview (Translation from mercatornet.com):
Neue Zuricher Zeitung: You do not consider an infant to be more worthy of protection than an embryo. On the other hand, you do not necessarily ascribe a higher status to humans than to animals.
Peter Singer: Belonging to the human species is not what makes it morally wrong to kill a living being. Why should all members of the species homo sapiens have a right to life, whereas other species do not? This idea is merely a remnant of our religious legacy. For centuries, we have been told that man was created in the image of God, that God granted us dominion over the animals and that we have an immortal soul.
Why? Because if we are not all deemed morally equal–regardless of our capacities, age, or capabilities–there is no way to philosophically sustain universal human rights. Indeed, if our moral value depends on the outcome of our utilitarian-measured characteristics moment, to moment, to moment, no one is safe.
Then, Singer reveals his inner anti-humanism:
NZZ: If you were standing in front of a burning house with 200 pigs and one child inside, and you could choose to save either the animals or the child, what would you do?
PS: At a certain point, the animals’ suffering becomes so great that one should choose to save the animals over the child. Whether this point occurs at 200 or two million animals, I don’t know. But one cannot let an infinite number of animals burn to save the life of one child…
What if it was Singer’s baby? Good grief.
The proper answer would be for Singer to say he could not perceive a circumstance in which the lives of pigs would matter more than that of a human being.
This comment exhibits the same invidious thinking as racism, just different potential victims.
Remember this the next time Nicolas Kristof turns to Singer as an authority in proper morality.