Human Lives pp 109-127 | Cite as

Young Human Beings: Metaphysics and Ethics

  • Grant Gillett

Abstract

Human infants are beings who are obviously vulnerable to the vicissitudes of life in general and who tend to invoke in us special concern and care. One might therefore expect that our moral thinking would show why this special regard somehow cohered with basic moral features of the human condition. It is somewhat surprising that one of the major theories of moral value should not only devalue the intuitions that surround human infants but actually suggest that such intuitions are radically mistaken.1 I shall use this counterintuitive conclusion about young human beings to explore the basic claims and commitments of consequentialism as a metaethical theory.

Keywords

Expense Posite Dition Defend Bage 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    P. Singer, Practical Ethics (Cambridge: CUP, 1993, 2nd. ed.) (hereafter referred to as ‘Singer’); M. Tooley, ‘Abortion and Infanticide’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 2 (1972) 37–65, reprinted in J. Feinberg (ed.), The Problem of Abortion (Belmont: Wadsworth, 1984, 2nd. ed.).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    R. Crisp, ‘Quality of Life and Health Care’, in K. Fulford, G. Gillett, and J. Martin Soskice (eds.), Medicine and Moral Reasoning (Cambridge; CUP, 1994).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    J. Glover, Causing Death and Saving Lives (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1977), pp. 62–3 (hereafter referred to as ‘Glover’).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Hobbes, Leviathan (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1909), p. 96.Google Scholar
  5. 15.
    Singer, p. 101; ‘intellectually disabled humans’ are referred to as ‘mental defectives’ in the first edition of Practical Ethics (Cambridge: CUP, 1979), p. 84.Google Scholar
  6. 23.
    D. Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, ed. Selby-Bigge (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960), Book III, Part I, sec. i, p. 467.Google Scholar
  7. 24.
    P. F. Strawson, ‘Freedom and Resentment’, in Freedom and Resentment and other Essays (London: Methuen, 1974).Google Scholar
  8. 27.
    The consequentialist doctrine of replaceability has been extensively criticised elsewhere: see S. Uniacke and H. McCloskey, ‘Peter Singer and Non-Voluntary “Euthanasia”: Tripping down the Slippery Slope’, Journal of Applied Philosophy 9 (1992) 203–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 28.
    N. Noddings, Caring: a Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David S. Oderberg and Jacqueline A. Laing 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Grant Gillett

There are no affiliations available

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