New Effort to Oust Peter Singer

“Disability activists have launched a petition demanding Princeton University professor Peter Singer resign over his outspoken support for euthanasia and infanticide,” according to an article in The Washington Times.

The petition, which  currently has 823 signatories, makes the following demands:

  • That Princeton University officials should immediately call for Professor Singer’s resignation;
  • That Princeton University officials should publicly disavow Singer’s statements that both devalue the lives of people with disabilities and advocate public policies that would end those lives through denial of healthcare; and
  • That the New Jersey Legislature and Governor Chris Christie publicly denounce the lethal and discriminatory public health care policy advocated by Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer.

This isn’t the first time people have objected to Singer’s employment at Princeton. At issue are Singer’s remarks about people with severe disabilities. This latest effort to oust him seems to have been prompted by a recent appearance by Singer on the radio show, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” to promote his new book, The Most Good You Can Do

What seems to get him into hot water is his advocacy of a strong principle of beneficence, combined with a denial of the moral significance of the distinction between killing and letting die, and empirical claims about the relative utility of the lives of people with severe disabilities. The view generates the judgment that there could be circumstances in which what we ought to do is kill (rather than let die) some people with (severe) disabilities. The authors of the petition claim that this qualifies as hate speech that violates Princeton’s own policy on Respect for Others, and that this consideration should trump concerns with academic freedom.

On a related note, I would recommend readers check out “Confessions of a Bitter Cripple,” a post by Elizabeth Barnes (Virginia) at Philosop-her, before commenting on this news item here.

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