InDefense of InfanticideInfanticidewhen heard of, speaks of an unspeakable and unthinkable crime of killing aninnocent child. It is an act of taking a life of an infant who has yet to growand become a full pledged member of the society, contributing their knowledgeand skills for its development. Surely, one can say that infanticide is wrongfor it can be synonymous to the word “murder” which is viewed as an unlawfulact of taking the life of another person. Yet, some people have proposed thatinfanticide could be justified and could be morally accepted, presenting defensesfor it.
These people are namely, Peter Singer and Michael Tooley.1 Infantsas Non-Human One of the mainarguments of Singer and Tooley in defending infanticide is their claim thatinfants cannot be considered as humans. Michael Tooley stated that a human beingpossesses a serious right to life when that human has a concept of self as acontinuing subject of experiences and mental states. In Tooley’s perspective,infants do not qualify to those standards.2Singerwrote in his book Practical Ethics, “Human babies are not bornself-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are notpersons”; therefore, “the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of apig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.
“3For Singer one must be self-aware to be considered as a human. In doing so, hegave birth to a doctrine known as functionalism. Functionalism measures a humanbased on what that individual can and can’t do. In an article by ScottKlusendorf criticizing Singer’s claim and pointing out major flaws in hisproposal, he has stated that in this doctrine, Singer has implied that individuals,who are not functional, infants and mentally disabled people, are not to beconsidered as humans for they lack the needed rationality possessed by a humanbeing.
In this sense, individuals who have higher rationality or intellectual abilitycould be considered as more of a person than people who has lower rationalitythan him/her.4 For Singer,killing an infant is not equivalent to killing a person because unlike a personwho has a desire to live, infants are not rational and is not self-conscioustherefore, killing infants is acceptable. Although it may be acceptable toSinger, he still viewed infanticide wrong in some cases and should have strictconditions in permitting it.5But, nonetheless for these two philosophers infants are not human in a sensethat they do not possess the rational mind that divides humans from the rest ofcreation. 1 2 Michael Tooley, “Abortion andInfanticide,” in Rights and Wrongs of Abortion, ed.
Marshall Cohen,Thomas Nagel, and Thomas Scanlon (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press,1974), 57. 3Klusendorf,Scott. “Peter Singer’sBold Defense of Infanticide” in ChristianResearch Journal.
Volume 23. No. 3. Available at http://www.equip.
org/article/peter-singers-bold-defense-of-infanticide/. Accessed: January 14, 2018. 4 Ibid. 5 Ibid.