“A Dog’s Right To Life?”, Ariel Kaminer’s “Ethicist” column in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, approvingly cited controversial Princeton University bio-ethics philosopher and animal rights “ethicist” Peter Singer, who has been protested by advocates for the disabled for radical statements. In an excerpt of his 1993 book Practical Ethics, Singer concluded: “Killing a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Very often it is not wrong at all.”
Kaminer addressed the dilemma of a veterinarian with an elderly client with an 8-year-old dog. She wanted the dog to be euthanized if she died before the dog did.
While Kaminer's statement that “Dogs have no special expectation of longevity” may invite the hostiity of animal-lovers, her choice of animal liberation Singer to comment may be more offensive.
I took the question to Peter Singer, the scholar of philosophy and ethics who has done more than anyone else to spread the call for animal liberation. He agreed that killing a dog is no worse than killing a cow or a sheep or a pig. And that the dog’s own expectations (or lack thereof) do matter. “The wrongness of killing a dog is nothing like the wrongness of killing a normal non-infant human being,” he said, “who can envisage their future and have specific desires for their future.”
Did you catch Singer’s clanging “non-infant” exception, implying that killing a disabled infant is not so wrong? If Kaminer noticed, she didn't comment.