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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