What I learned about disability and infanticide from Peter Singer

In the 1970s, the Australian moral philosopher Peter Singer began to argue that it is ethical to give parents the option to euthanise infants with disabilities.

Peter Singer at the Effective Altruism Global conference in Melbourne 15 August 2015.

In the 1970s, the Australian moral philosopher Peter Singer, perhaps best-known for his book Animal Liberation (1975), began to argue that it is ethical to give parents the option (in consultation with doctors) to euthanise infants with disabilities. He mostly, but not exclusively, discussed severe forms of disabilities such as spina bifida or anencephaly. In Practical Ethics (1979), Singer explains that the value of a life should be based on traits such as rationality, autonomy and self-consciousness. ‘Defective infants lack these characteristics,’ he wrote. ‘Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings, or any other self-conscious beings.’

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A Philosophical Guide to Coping with Life, Death, and Sour Grapes

Can you have hope in the face of death? For believers this is somewhat easier, but non-theists require a different set of philosophical tools.

Life throws us curveballs that test our ability to cope, but perhaps none is more curvy than the end of life itself. Philosopher Luc Bovens examines the idea of secular hope, the forms it takes, and the function of it. He asks: what does it mean to live a meaningful life, and is it possible to die as well as you lived?

This video was filmed at the Los Angeles Hope Festival, a collaboration between Big Think and Hope & Optimism. For more on Luc Bovens, go here.

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Dutch May Allow Assisted Suicide for Non-Terminally Ill Patients

Already a euthanasia pioneer, being the first to legalize it in 2002, the Netherlands may allow for the assisted suicide of older people who feel as if they’ve “completed life”.

Keizersgracht, one of the city of Amsterdam's three main canals. (Photo credit should read JERRY LAMPEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Already a euthanasia pioneer, being the first to legalize it in 2002, the Netherlands may allow for the assisted suicide of older people who feel as if they’ve “completed life”. These people would not have to be terminally ill and could even be healthy.

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