Singer and Tooley on the mindset of "pro-lifers"

Xavier Symons
4 May 2013
Reproduced with Permission

The infanticide debate in the Journal of Medical Ethics has garnered comments from the grand old men of infanticide, the Australian Peter Singer and the American Michael Tooley. They have been defending it for decades.

Singer and Tooley attack the "anti-abortion mindset", claiming that the irrationality of "pro-life" groups caused the aggressive reaction to the Giubilini-Minerva article. They are philosophically illiterate. Singer rather condescendingly analyses the aggression of opponents:

"Their problem, apparently, is that most of them do not know how to argue against anyone who agrees with them that the fetus and newborn infant have the same moral status, but then denies that merely existing as an innocent living human being is enough to give a being a right to life."

Similarly, Tooley regards most people who disagree with his views as irrational:

" the case of many people, their views on the moral status of abortion are part of a 'package deal', part of some very general point of view to which they are deeply committed... In such cases, the person may find it very difficult to consider, dispassionately, arguments dealing with abortion, since he or she may view such arguments as threatening his or her general worldview".

For those suffering from this psychosis Tooley prescribes a dose of Socrates and self-reflection:

"My hope is that readers who find the conclusions for which Giubilini and Minerva argue problematic will ask themselves whether their own views may not be connected, for example, to deeply held religious beliefs that make it very difficult to take seriously the Socratic challenge in this case."