Author: Charles Camosy

Why Christians Should Reject Speciesism

Over at the Public Discourse, the very good Loyola Marymount philosopher Chris Kaczor has responded to a review of his recent book on abortion by another well-known philosopher, Don Marquis.  While calling it “the most complete, the most penetrating and the most up-to-date set of critiques of the arguments for abortion choice presently available” and “required reading for anyone seriously considering the abortion issue”, Marquis nevertheless rejects Kaczor’s central conclusion about the inherent dignity of all human organisms.  One reason, and it is the reason on which I shall focus  in this post, is because of Kazor’s ‘speciesism.’  Though I largely agree with much that is in the book, I also think that Marquis, invoking Singer, is right to press Kaczor on this point.  But first let us turn to Kaczor’s defense at the Public Discourse.  He begins by  attempting to define the charge: Peter Singer defines speciesism as “a prejudice or attitude of bias in favor of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species.” On this view, to hold that all human beings have moral status is an insidious “-ism” and so should be rejected. This point is in need of some important clarification: for to jump from ‘arbitrarily preferring human interests in, say, not feeling pain, to similar non-human interests in not feeling pain’ to ‘holding that all...

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Till (Double) Lethal Injection Do Us Part?–Sliding Down the Euthanasia Slippery Slope

Here is a story about a Belgian couple who ‘couldn’t imagine living without each other’ and so asked for euthanasia together (hat tip to Wes Smith): You heard right, you don’t have to be terminally ill to get it…but why would you?  When a culture presumes that one’s choices about one’s own life and body are entirely up the individual, who is the state to get involved and regulate on what basis that individual can make a decision about such a deeply personal matter?  Quite logically, many Dutch are now calling for legal euthanasia when they are simply ‘tired of life.’ But when ‘choice’ and ‘freedom’ are concepts simply floating about, untethered to any sense of ‘the good’ or other goal toward which such autonomy is directed, it does not produce liberation.  Rather, it simply papers over and even ensconces those deep injustices that already exist in a culture.  In the case of euthanasia in the secular West, among other things, this means an uncritical examination of a consumerist and youth-obsessed culture which sees older people as a burden and leading a kind of life that is not worth living. Nigel Biggar’s book ‘Aiming to Kill’ powerfully argues that any culture which attempts to legalize euthanasia, which also locates their primarily value in untethered autonomy, will be unable to stop a slide down a slippery slope to euthanasia on...

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What is Happiness?

A simple question, right?  But as I’ve discovered during my current attempt to get out of my applied ethics ‘element’, and venture into the world of theoretical ethics, it is actually quite complex.  I’m hoping to get some feedback from my colleagues who know more about this than I do. Peter Singer also focuses mainly on applied ethics, and has said less and less about theoretical ethics over the years.  However, the little that he is saying is, at least in my view, encouraging for the prospect of dialogue.  For instance, in the introduction to his just released third edition of Practical Ethics he says, “I am now more ready to entertain–although not yet embrace–the idea that there are objective ethical truths that are independent of what anyone desires.”  As we will see below, I think a major part of what of what is driving this change is his understanding of happiness and its relation to the moral life. From a Roman Catholic perspective, our own Bill Mattison points out that connecting ethical behavior to happiness is: how most Christian thinkers through history have understood the Christian moral life. St. Augustine assumes in his main discussions of morality that the starting point for such reflections is how to life a happy life, and explains why the love of God and neighbor that Christ commands in all four gospels...

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Is Sex of Any Kind Consent to Child Support?

Surely there is almost nothing worse than abandoning one’s own children–and often their mother–because one refuses to take responsibility for one’s sexual behavior.  This is why it is a very good thing that we continue to tighten child support laws and their enforcement. But for what sort of sexual actions must a father be responsible in this way?  Legally, all it appears that men (and even boys!) can be responsible for almost all of them: Courts have ruled that boys who were statutorily raped by older women must pay child support. Courts have ruled that when a woman has taken the semen from a condom a man used for sex with a different woman and has inserted it in herself, the man must still pay child support. Courts have ruled that when a woman has concealed her pregnancy (denying the man the right to be a father) and then sued for child support a decade later, the man must still pay child support…Few if any men are relieved of child support obligations due to the circumstances of the pregnancy, no matter how bizarre or unjust. [Find some details on these kinds of cases here.] And for another bizarre example, check out this case: Phillips accuses Dr. Sharon Irons of a “calculated, profound personal betrayal” after their affair six years ago, saying she secretly kept semen after they had oral sex, then...

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