Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wesley J. Smith on Peter Singer on Utilitarianism and the death penalty

My hero Wesley J. Smith has some thoughts on Peter Singer's utilitarian approach to capital punishment. Singer's ethics are execrable, a jumbled mess so detached and methodical as to suggest mental illness. Singer's ethics is a cold clinical sifting applied to issues that transcend calculation. That's true of utilitarianism in general, but especially so of Singer.

Smith calls him on it.

Peter Singer

11 comments:

  1. The best response Smith can come up with is "humans are magic so counting them up is bad". That's pretty weak. No wonder theism is losing adherents in droves.

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  2. So you have a problem with "cold clinical sifting applied to issues that transcend calculation." But your hero writes:

    "I think both sides have valid arguments on that score–to which should also be added (and this isn’t a complete list) the place for mercy in such cases, the emotional benefits of retribution to the victims and society, the dangers of unleashing blood lust vengence if the state doesn’t adequately punish, yes, deterrent value, if any, and the risks of executing an innocent person."

    How is that not a moral utilitarian calculation?

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  3. @anon:

    Humans are magic. We carry the image of the Creator.

    In your darkness, you're blind to the beauty.

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  4. @troy:

    [How is that not a moral utilitarian calculation?]

    Utilitarianism defines the end as "the best for the most" with variations.

    Deontological ethics (Christian ethics) defines the end as God's Law, as manifested in Scripture, the Church, etc.

    Deontological ethics can take into account utilitarian considerations, as long as utilitarian ends are not absolute and do not violate God's Law.

    Example of Christian ethics: helping 2 people is better than helping one person, all other factors being equal.

    But killing one person to help 2 people (or any number of people) is never ethical.

    In deontological Christian ethics, humans are ends, not merely means.

    In utilitarianism, some humans can be mere means for the ends of others.

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  5. "Example of Christian ethics: helping 2 people is better than helping one person, all other factors being equal."

    This is not a "cold" calculation?

    "But killing one person to help 2 people (or any number of people) is never ethical."

    Really? So you are against mandatory inoculations that have a small risk of death, even if such inoculation prevents many deaths?

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  6. Humans are magic. We carry the image of the Creator.

    Evidence for this claim?

    Oh right. You have none. Just wishful thinking.

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  7. Michael,

    Why don't you read one of Peter Singer's books, instead of relying on someone's second hand opinion? 'Practical Ethics' would be a good start. Interviews are a very bad way of ascertaining the actual opinions of the interviewee, since it involves filtering and editing by the interviewer.

    And to forestall you, I'll read Feser's 'the Last Superstition' when it's released as a Kindle edition.

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  8. When I read atheists responses on this blog, I am saddened. How can a human being evolve a so crocked intellect?

    Maybe this is why.

    Sniff...

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  9. Pepe,

    Witty, as usual ... not. You are an idiot, and you've never been able to write anything sensible to disprove it.

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  10. Pepe is a brain-dead groupie. (S)he just knows that Egnor and the Pope are right, no matter what they say. A useful idiot.

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  11. As far as I am concerned, Peter Singer is a failed evolution experiment (or excrement)...

    To all atheists, if you worship Peter Singer, go Buck a Fufallo… Peter will be proud of you!

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