In thinking about this matter we should put aside feelings based on the small, helpless and—sometimes—cute appearance of human infants. To think that the lives of infants are of special value because infants are small and cute is on a par with thinking that a baby seal, with its soft white fur coat and large round eyes, deserves greater protection than a whale [It is odd to think that we could put aside emotionally moving aspects of an act when considering that act. Can we just turn off our emotions? (Obviously we can to some extent, but there are limits to what we can do, not to mention the limits to what we should do.) 'Cute' suggests appealing, which suggests some kind of value, surely. How can you recognize that something is cute and simultaneously disregard this cuteness? One way might be to recognize that the thing is considered to be cute by others, but that isn't what I'm talking about. Another objection relates to people. If two people are drowning and I cannot save both at once, surely I should not save the cute one first just because s/he is cute? That's right, I shouldn't. But that's because other things are so much more important, including how horrible it would be if life and death decisions were made on the basis of looks. How horrible for the ugly or plain, so small and helpless, so to speak, in their lack of cutenesss.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
At Oxford he fell in with vegetarians...
This is a good read on Peter Singer. The author, James Franklin, quotes Singer: