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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Originally a part of this post, I'll republish just the "sentience/Peter Singer" section for those of our readers requesting it in this post's comments thread:

We discussed some sociological similarities to the Holocaust in this post and comments about Milgram's Experiment and what makes human beings become inhumane toward one another. Even after the numbers above are explained, some folks still berate anyone who discusses the Holocaust/abortion comparison. I’ve pointed out how at least in part, both genocides came about from the same mechanism of obedience to authority from which Milgram devised his original experiment.

Ignoring the sworn, under-oath testimonies by eight world-renowned scientists that human life begins at “fertilization of an oocyte by a sperm…[and is called] a single-celled zygote”(see slide SIX, here), some still continue to drag out the tired, old Peter Singer "personhood" or "sentient being" canard. Peter Singer thinks infanticide is OK and sometimes monkeys are more of "human persons" than young children are. Don't take my word for it. He said it, not me:

From the article, "Abortion and Rights," in a special edition of the International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, (Vol. 19, No. 3/4, 1999, pp. 96 – 126; (available to registered Harvard users here), the following includes quotes and paraphrases from Dianne N. Irving, M.A., Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy/Bioethics and career-appointed biochemist at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD:

Imposing philosophical terms such as sentience or personhood on scientific data is illegitimate. The brain--supposed by some theories to be the physiological support for both "rational attributes" and "sentience," isn't completely formed until young adulthood. Quoting [noted embryologist Keith L.] Moore in his well-known medical school textbook The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology: 'Although it is customary to divide human development into prenatal (before birth) and postnatal (after birth) periods, birth is merely a dramatic event during development resulting in a change in environment. Development does not stop at birth. The brain triples in weight between birth and 16 years; most developmental changes are completed by the age of 25.

"... if a 'person' is defined only in terms of the actual exercising of 'rational attributes' or of 'sentience,' what would this mean for human beings with diminished 'rational attributes:' the mentally ill, the mentally retarded, the depressed elderly, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients, drug addicts, alcoholics - and for those with diminished 'sentience,' the comatose, patients in a 'vegetative state,' paraplegics and other paralyzed and disabled patients, diabetics or other patients with nerve or brain damage, etc.? Would that mean that they would not have the same ethical rights and protections as those adult human beings who are considered as persons?

"This is the position of bioethics writers such as the Australian animal rights philosopher Peter Singer, the recently appointed Director of the Center for Human Values at Princeton University. Singer argues that the higher primates (dogs, pigs, apes, monkeys) are persons - but that some human beings, e.g., even normal human infants, and disabled human adults, are not persons. Fellow bioethicist Norman Fost actually considers 'cognitively impaired' adult human beings as 'brain dead.' Philosopher/bioethicist R.G. Frey has also published that many of the adult human beings on the above list are not 'persons,' and suggests that they be substituted for the higher primates who are 'persons' in purely destructive experimental research. The list goes on." [Emphasis mine]
Does anyone who believes the "personhood/ sentience" argument, really want to be in the same camp as people who advocate doing to other human beings exactly what the Nazis did to 18 million people including 6 million Jews, especially when they subjected the "marginal people" listed above to surgical and other physical, scientific experimentation as though they were monkeys or rats?

People have tried to turn the world on its ear with convoluted "personhood logic"--which is all just mental masturbation--but it still doesn't make the truth go away.

Poor Peter Singer. He must really hate his mother for letting him live.

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