Tomas Hribek
Czech Academy of Sciences
[From Euthanasia to Infanticide] The paper revisits the recent controversy over Dr. Mitlőhner’s defense of infanticide, published in this journal. In section 1, I point out the weaknesses of Mitlőhner’s paper. In sections 2 and 3 I turn to the most sophisticated defense of infanticide on offer today, that of Peter Singer’s. Section 2 sums up Singer’s description of the medical practice as already having abandoned the traditional ethic of equal value of all human lives, which motivates ethical revisionism. However, an explicit justification of a revision is necessary. This is the job of Singer’s Replacement Argument, examined in section 3. I argue that this justification of infanticide in completely impersonal terms fails. In section 4, I reject it in favor of Ronald Dworkin’s distinction between experiential interests, possessed by infants, and critical interests that develop later. Hence, neonatal euthanasia can sometimes be justified in terms of a newborn‘s own interests (presumably, to relieve its suffering), not in impersonal terms. The only exception is those infants that lack any capacity for cognitive activity whatsoever, and who thus lack even experiential interests. It is an open question whether their “life” differs from death, and whether by killing them we perform infanticide.
Keywords infanticide  euthanasia  the replacement argument
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