The Arrogant Defense of “Infant Euthanasia”

Jerry Coyne continues his effort to defend “infant euthanasia.” If you’ll remember the first time around, Coyne completely failed to address the slippery slope problem that is entailed in these calls to legalize infanticide.

Given his failure to address this problem, his most recent attempt to defend the practice can’t even get off the ground.  He writes:

The opposition, predictably, comes from the religious, the conservatives, and disabled people who argue that Singer’s ethics could have called for them to be killed. But virtually none of those disabled people would have been euthanized under a strict protocol, for if there was a chance they could live a decent life and not be too onerous to care for, there are many parents who would either care of them or find others to adopt them.

Why should anyone believe Coyne on this point?  After all, he can’t stop himself from weaseling even while trying to answer his critics.  Note it is “virtually none,” not none. And note the need that the infant “not be too onerous to care for.”  Depending on the person you ask, you’ll find a huge sliding scale when it comes to determining whether it “is too onerous to care for.”  After all, an unemployed, single mother with no family support might argue that any baby is “too onerous to care for.”

Coyne then tries to posture as if he is drawing a line in the sand:

Of course I don’t think that all newborns—or those with mild conditions that can permit a life that’s not full of pain and misery—should be candidates for euthanasia. The notion should be limited to infants with conditions that will kill them soon or, with near certainty, within a few years, and will cause them to suffer. There should be strict conditions (parental consent, medical and legal regulations, agreement of physicians, etc.).

I’m sure you all have heard the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.”  Why are we supposed to believe such “strict conditions” will be enforced and not challenged?  Why are we supposed to believe no court will trim those strict restrictions away?  Why are we supposed to believe that children’s rights activists will not do away with the need for parental consent?  In other words, these promises of “strict conditions” come across as nothing more than a sales pitch to nudge us down that slippery slope where infants can be euthanized for all the same reasons fetuses are aborted.  For it doesn’t matter if people like Coyne enact “strict conditions.”  The next generation of Coyne’s will simply strip them away once we have begun normalizing the killing of infants for their own good.  We’ve seen this movie before.

Coyne then makes the argument about pets without realizing how it undercuts the credibility of his position:

Right now let me just add that we see no problem with euthanizing terminally suffering animals—animals that, as far as science can tell us from neurology and brain development, are at least as self-aware and sentient as a newborn human. Why are human newborns different from an adult horse, dog, or chimp? There’s no reason I can see unless you’re religious and think we alone have souls.

Thar she blows!  There is no reason to think human infants are different from adult dogs, thus we need to start treating human infants like dogs.  If infants are no different from pets, why can’t we euthanize them for all the same reasons we euthanize pets?  For the simple fact is that pets do not need to be terminally suffering to have them euthanized.  That’s just one of the reasons for euthanasia.  According to Wiki, there are many reasons to euthanize a pet:

Terminal illness, e.g. cancer or rabies

Illness or accident that is not terminal but would cause suffering for the animal to live with, or when the owner cannot afford, or when the owner has a moral objection to the treatment

Behavioral problems (usually ones that cannot be corrected) e.g. aggression – Canines that have usually caused grievous bodily harm to either humans or other animals through mauling are usually seized and euthanized (‘destroyed’ in British legal terms).

Old age and deterioration leading to loss of major bodily functions, resulting in severe impairment of the quality of life

Lack of home or caretaker

And according to this article:

Shocking figures released by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) from their “Voice of the Veterinary Profession” survey show that 98 per cent of vets have been asked to euthanase healthy pets, with 53 per cent saying that this is not a rare occurrence. And in nearly every case (98 per cent), “bad behaviour” on the part of the pet was the reason for the euthanasia request. Other reasons cited for “healthy euthanasia” (vets could choose more than one reason given by owners in the BVA survey)  included the poor health of the owner (48 per cent), owners moving to accommodation that is unsuitable for their pet (39 per cent), and legal enforcement reasons (32 per cent).

So if infants are no different from pets, why not euthanize them for lack of a home or caretaker?  Why not euthanize them if the parent(s) cannot afford them?  Why not euthanize them if genetic testing indicates they are likely to suffer from behavioral problems (like autism or ADHD)?  Why not euthanize them if they are blind?  People like Coyne and Singer need to answer such questions, especially since they have greased the slippery slope by equating human infants to pets.

Coyne then gives us a face palm moment:

Since I know all these sites are scrutinizing my every word, I’ll add one more thing: twenty years ago assisted suicide was just as demonized by the very same groups, but now it’s seen by many progressives as something that should be left to people’s choice under certain conditions. Giving people that choice is the right thing to do. It’s legal in several countries and three states, and it will become legal in more countries and states. Morality progresses, and it’s people like Singer—and cases like that of Terri Schiavo—that move our thinking forward.

He knows his critics are watching and actually thinks the way to challenge them is to give an example of how the slippery slope works. 

Amazing.

Of course, it is interesting to hear him insist “morality progresses.”  Progresses toward what?  Forward toward where?  When it comes to this issue of killing infants, where does it all stop?  What is the end point?  If we are to all slide down that slippery slope, it would help if someone could be up front and honest about the destination entailed by this morality progressing.

Anyway, the professor couldn’t get through an argument without reaching for a straw man:

What I don’t understand are all these people who seem to be in favor of infant suffering—

Nonsense.  I don’t think there is anyone out there in favor of infant suffering.  This issue is far more complex. Consider an analogous situation.  Right now, there are millions of children suffering some form of abuse from their parents (or the adult companions of their parents).  We make it illegal, but that does not stop it.  So why not get the government to license and regulate all parenting?   Many people would oppose this.  And justifiably so.  Does that mean because someone might oppose state-run parenting that they are in favor of children suffering? Of course not. That would be a very steep price to pay to reduce childhood suffering that would likely generate all kinds of others problems and suffering.   There are no easy fixes to human suffering.

Coyne continues:

The same people who would have no opposition to turning off a respirator or withdrawing a feeding tube from a terminally ill infant quail at the idea of ending the suffering with an injection, despite there being no substantive difference between the two procedures (both involve decisions to do something, and both have a predictable result), except that the last one is often more merciful and causes less suffering.

The substantive difference is found in the psychology.  Again, let me quote from the article that Coyne so admired:

You should not have let your baby die. You should have killed him.

The former is passive; the later is active.  If we are to adopt the moral logic of actively killing other humans for their own good, this entails a huge cultural shift.  For example, if the state/insurance companies cannot and will not afford various life-prolonging medical treatments for the elderly, rather than withhold the treatments, they might think the moral thing to do is fund their lethal injections.  Actually, that would be the affordable solution; the morality would be just window-dressing.

Finally, Coyne concludes with this own arrogance:

But now I understand the kind of unwarranted opprobrium Peter Singer garnered—just for trying to get people to put aside their knee-jerk reactions and religious indoctrination, and think about things. 

Of course.  The only possible reason anyone would be opposed to legalizing and normalizing “infant euthanasia” is because they don’t think about things.  Nothing but knee-jerk reactions and religious indoctrination involved.

But…..I do think about things.  More deeply than Coyne does.  That explains a) why I am not impressed by Coyne’s superficial thinking and b) why the problems I raise in this blog entry sink his position.

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47 Responses to The Arrogant Defense of “Infant Euthanasia”

  1. Dhay says:

    > If infants are no different from pets, why can’t we euthanize them for all the same reasons we euthanize pets?

    I note the reasons given for euthanising / destroying / ‘putting down’ dogs, “And in nearly every case (98 per cent), “bad behaviour” on the part of the pet was the reason for the euthanasia request.” Including, especially, “legal enforcement reasons (32 per cent)”, which in Britain, the country of that survey of vets, almost invariably equates to a court having ordered the dog killed because it has actually attacked someone, perhaps killed someone, often a child. (That’s because a merely noisy dog can go to a Pet Rescue centre for re-homing, or the owner evicted.)

    If Jerry Coyne goes down the slippery slope of euthanising people for the same reasons dogs are euthanised, he will logically end up with people being not merely jailed but euthanised for their violent attacks on people, and for murder.

    Well, that’s one way to treat criminals clinically and medically instead of blaming them.

  2. TFBW says:

    One wonders what Coyne’s position is on the death sentence, or what his position is on the ethics of putting down violent dogs for that matter. Whatever it is, it’s probably very confused, given that he’s prepared to call people who kill endangered albatrosses “murderers”, but is satisfied with a 45 day jail sentence for the act. It’s pretty clear that this is all just post-hoc rationalisation of his sentiments, rather than a principled argument, despite the rhetorical devices employed to make it sound like the latter, and thus not terribly interesting. It demonstrates that he’s not as logical as he thinks he is, but that seems like stating the obvious by now.

  3. Julian says:

    Ah, yes. The old “just the same as the animals” analogy. Just an excuse for them to act like them. Not to mention the hospital in the UK that was using aborted babies AS FUEL to heat their hospitals.

  4. Mechanar says:

    And why Stop there? The poor are suffering so lets kill a the starving africans its a final solution to poverty and much more quicker and simpler than restructur capitalism.

    Than all the delusional religious are next after all they are responsible for most of the worlds Problems since in the end there is no difference between an animal and a human

  5. Dhay says:

    Mechanar > And why Stop there? The poor are suffering so lets kill a the starving africans its a final solution to poverty and much more quicker and simpler than restructuring capitalism.

    I see where you are going, but why stop there? Coyne says:

    Why are human newborns different from an adult horse, dog, or chimp? There’s no reason I can see unless you’re religious and think we alone have souls.

    Horses and dogs and chimps are food items in some countries. If there’s any reason why Coyne has missed out asking why are human newborns different from adult beef cattle and pigs, I’m not sure what it is.

    Therefore may I on Coyne’s behalf make a modest proposal:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Modest_Proposal

  6. Julian says:

    Sure. They’re already turning them into jewelry.

  7. Travis says:

    @TFBW

    You hit the nail on the head that Coyne’s posturing is pure post hoc justification of his beliefs, which he arrived at because of his sentiments. It always amazes me how modern atheists talk of values and ethics (such as wanting to alleviate suffering) when they live in a world of blind, valueless determinism. They always fail to see how they are moral parasites living off the values and ethics brought to the West by Christianity, and all the thinkers and philosophers who operated within Christendom’s moral framework.

  8. Geoff Smith says:

    I used to gravitate against this view., but it’s safe to say that atheists really tend to be goobers and weirdos.

  9. Scott Edwards says:

    You don’t seem to address the central issue Coyne brings up, related to the article containing the provocative line you quoted, “You should not have let your baby die. You should have killed him.” Given a severely brain-damaged infant with a terminal condition who is suffering and who cannot survive without a respirator, what should we do? Keep the infant on the respirator indefinitely? In other words, prolong suffering indefinitely? Even Catholic hospitals don’t do that. So it comes down to either unhooking the respirator or euthanizing. Either way, the infant is going to die, but the former causes more suffering while the latter does not. As you say, “The former is passive; the later[sic] is active.” You believe we shouldn’t do the latter because it is active. So you come down on the side of more infant suffering. That’s the central criticism here.

    Ultimately your argument is that infants need to suffer in order to keep us away from this slippery slope. That is not at all convincing, especially considering that slippery slope arguments are often fallacious. For instance the acceptance of gay marriage does not necessarily lead to the acceptance of bestiality, and so forth. It’s not necessarily true that all the bad things you imagine in this post would come to pass. In my view, infants don’t need to suffer in order to prevent these imaginings.

  10. Dhay says:

    Scott Edwards > So it comes down to either unhooking the respirator or euthanizing. Either way, the infant is going to die, but the former causes more suffering while the latter does not.

    You really do like your false dichotomy, you return to it again and again. Perhaps you’ll research what palliative care is. Or perhaps, once again, you won’t.

    Young Gard died in a hospice. Have you not wondered what the speciality of a hospice is.

  11. grodrigues says:

    “Either way, the infant is going to die, but the former causes more suffering while the latter does not.”

    This is an argument for killing just about everyone.

    And since we are playing with false dichotomies, why exactly is anyone responding to morally obtuse nazi creeptards?

  12. Scott Edwards says:

    Dhay: It is an objective fact that that unhooking a respirator is an agonizing death, even with palliative care. You wrongly assume none of the doctors administered palliative care for the infant in Comstock’s article. It’s a preposterous thing to assume, and the only reason I can see for assuming it is to try to escape the dilemma. No, there is no escaping it. Please read the article.

    And there is an even more fundamental issue of the fact that unhooking a respirator is effectively just as “active” as euthanizing. So even taking your wrong assumption as true — that unhooking a respirator with palliative drugs is as suffering-free as euthanizing — it still does not provide an escape. If one believes that one should take no “active” role in a death, then you’re left with keeping the respirator indefinitely, and, again, even Catholic hospitals do not do this.

  13. TFBW says:

    @Scott Edwards:

    And there is an even more fundamental issue of the fact that unhooking a respirator is effectively just as “active” as euthanizing.

    This is disingenuous, because it ignores the key difference. A respirator artificially sustains life. Poison kills. One is the withdrawal of something which is actively sustaining, and not necessary for a healthy individual; the other is doing something which is designed to terminate life, regardless of the individual’s health.

    You are a tedious ideologue.

  14. Scott Edwards says:

    Once a person resorts to an ad hominem attack, they’ve lost the argument, so thanks for handing me the win here.

    Getting back to the substance of the debate, taking an action that leads directly to the death of an infant is just that: causing a death. If one is going to cause a death, then one should do so in a way that avoids suffering.

    The difference between our viewpoints is a matter of values. For me, preventing the needless suffering of an innocent child is more important than any abstract philosophical distinctions one might make about the method of dying.

  15. Regual Llegna says:

    Add this position with Coney ideas against free will and you see his logical failure. In addition, his argument for euthanasia is an argument of morality (and this is a problem for him).

  16. grodrigues says:

    “For me, preventing the needless suffering of an innocent child is more important than any abstract philosophical distinctions one might make about the method of dying.”

    Moral preening from the morally obtuse, how cute.

  17. Regual Llegna says:

    Scott Edwards says:
    “…
    The difference between our viewpoints is a matter of values. For me, preventing the needless suffering of an innocent child is more important than any abstract philosophical distinctions one might make about the method of dying.”

    But Coney argument put humans beings on the same level that any animal in his eyes. This is not about “preventing the needless suffering” this is about letting people take their lives from others, justify it and then believe that they have the right or are entitled to have a clean conscience, death eliminates any opportunity and probability (should eliminate much more in the way of seeing the things of an atheist).

    For Coney his ideas about ethanasia seems rooted in their utilitarian vision of humanity, don’t work?Destroy it / recycle it, but life cannot be recycled.

    How do you know that there is no pain in death? (life and death can not be observed, tested and there is no empirical knowledge) the foundament (maybe the dogma?) behind the idea of “painless death” is after this question, “i don’t know” is not a good answer for what can not be repaired by human means, death, pain in life is remediable death is absolutely not medicine.

    The values of “is not morality wrong (balme deflection and denial) and is a moral obligation (is a moral good in this case?)” to give death are not good ideas to maintain a united society.
    “In death they have refused and assured themselves that there is no future for their very being… unless you believe in the inmortality of their life and the reason of their existence: their soul”

  18. Kevin says:

    Is there an objective measurement to the boundaries of “needless suffering”? If not, then “needless suffering” is not a justifiable death sentence.

  19. Regual Llegna says:

    Kevin says:
    “Is there an objective measurement to the boundaries of “needless suffering”? If not, then “needless suffering” is not a justifiable death sentence.”

    It is not, at the end of the day the people selected to control the “rule of law” legalisms decide the measures, is the same as the sentence of death only that the one who die has not committed any crime and its reward is “to be sacrificed for the for the common good of society”, social engineering
    using a utilitarianist and collectivist world view.

  20. FZM says:

    It is an objective fact that that unhooking a respirator is an agonizing death, even with palliative care. You wrongly assume none of the doctors administered palliative care for the infant in Comstock’s article. It’s a preposterous thing to assume, and the only reason I can see for assuming it is to try to escape the dilemma. No, there is no escaping it

    That seems to work the other way too; if you were trying to emphasize the dilemma and present it in stark terms, not considering or minimising the palliative care aspect would be important.

    Is this a general argument that whenever some one is taken off a respirator or other life support there is a moral obligation to give them a lethal injection?

    And there is an even more fundamental issue of the fact that unhooking a respirator is effectively just as “active” as euthanizing.

    I think TFBW basically made the right point, the cause of death when the respirator is removed is the illness or injury which made the person unable to breathe on their own. On the other hand the cause of death when a lethal injection is given is direct human agency.

  21. FZM says:

    Of course I don’t think that all newborns—or those with mild conditions that can permit a life that’s not full of pain and misery—should be candidates for euthanasia.

    In the UK at least the ‘progressive’ position on abortion is allowing for abortion up to birth for any reason at all, combined, I think, with decriminalisation of abortion (so that those who perform abortions outside of the medical guidelines and standards won’t face criminal prosecution).

    So, if you were already in favour of this position, I don’t see that it would be all that easy to argue against infant euthanasia, on any grounds at all, if parents, doctors etc. were in favour of it.

  22. Dhay says:

    In his 30 July 2017 blog post entitled “More outrage from the Right and the religious about infant euthanasia” Jerry Coyne added:

    UPDATE: Reader Pyers called my attention to a thoughtful piece by Melanie Phillips [Link provided] that analyzes the Gard case. She argues that the parents’ hopes may have been kept alive by the vociferous, bullying, and life-at-all-costs American Right:

    … The parents were reinforced in their refusal to accept this tragic situation, and the whole court process pointlessly prolonged, because of the pressure largely emanating from activists and media on the American political right (along with right-to-life campaigners) screaming that a baby was about to be killed by a socialised health care “death panel” enforced by the British government. This campaign led the parents to believe that such pressure could change the court’s mind. And so the parents were reinforced in their refusal to face reality.

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2017/07/30/more-outrage-from-the-right-and-the-religious-about-infant-euthanasia/

    It is indeed a thoughtful piece, which understands British law regarding putting the best interests of the child before all else, and it is generally sympathetic to the protagonists (apart from the US physician who raised hopes while knowing extremely little about the case, hadn’t so much as read the notes.)

    But I reckon she’s fantasising if she really believes the Gards were swayed by the American Right and by articles (which she quotes) in news outlets which nobody in Britain is likely to have heard of. If she had claimed the Mail or Sun had swayed the Gards, that might just be credible, though I personally was unaware of the affair until it had been going on for months, was unaware until the recent explosion of British media interest.

    But really, the absurdity of claiming the Gards were swayed by the likes of Liberty Unyielding?!

    I’m more inclined to think an otherwise sensible writer has a bee in her bonnet about the American political right, and in paranoid fashion is seeing its effects everywhere — even thousands of miles away in a country whose people are usually aware of nobody on the American Right save President Trump and his officers.

    Coyne doesn’t say he swallows that fantasy hook, line and sinker, but that’s the part of Phillips’ article he singles out to quote. Go figure.

  23. pennywit says:

    I’m not even going to try logic. Bluntly, if you move from a passive “let the infant die naturally because the child is terminally ill” to “we must kill this child to prevent its pain,” I think that your’e crossing a major ethical line. And I’m not comfortable crossing that line.

  24. TFBW says:

    @Scott Edwards:

    Once a person resorts to an ad hominem attack, they’ve lost the argument, so thanks for handing me the win here.

    Excellent. You win on a technicality. That certainly saves you the bother of addressing the substance of anything anyone has said to you, which is just as well, since you seemed quite determined to ignore it anyhow.

    Now quit while you’re ahead.

  25. Scott Edwards says:

    pennywit: When you remove the respirator, you’ve already decided “we must kill this child”.

    TFBW: I’ve already responded substantively. If all you have is ad hominems and snarky condescension then you’re just making yourself look bad.

  26. TFBW says:

    @Scott Edwards: pardon my snark, but your persistent refusal to recognise a difference between “kill” and “allow to die” due to the similarity of outcome tries my patience.

  27. TFBW says:

    @Scott Edwards: it seems that you differ from all else present on the question of whether the end justifies the means in this case. Do you think that’s a fair characterisation? Or do you deny that there’s a difference between “withdraw artificial life support” and “kill quickly and painlessly” (beyond the level of discomfort that might be involved)?

  28. Scott Edwards says:

    The end (the death of a child) is the same in either case, so this is all about the means: whether or not the means will cause further suffering of a child. There is a profound difference between those two options. Why should children suffer for your abstract philosophical distinctions? That’s not a rhetorical question; I’d genuinely like to know.

  29. Kevin says:

    Scott,

    Actually, the outcome is not always the same. In Christian media, inspirational stories are quite common, thus I have encountered countless stories of where a doctor has recommended abortion to parents, or has warned them after birth that the baby will die within days or perhaps months. Many times, these stories are told by those babies who are now thriving adults because the doctors were wrong.

    This is why we err on the side of life, not death. In one scenario, the outcome is an inspirational life. In the other, the outcome is death. Which would you choose for yourself?

  30. Scott Edwards says:

    Kevin, I was discussing the choice between euthanasia and death by unhooking a respirator.

  31. grodrigues says:

    “Why should children suffer for your abstract philosophical distinctions?”

    Why should the children be killed, without her consent, for your moral obtuseness?

  32. Scott Edwards says:

    grodrigues, I was discussing the choice between euthanasia and death by unhooking a respirator.

  33. Michael says:

    You don’t seem to address the central issue Coyne brings up, related to the article containing the provocative line you quoted, “You should not have let your baby die.

    Oh, but I have. You just don’t like the way I have addressed the central issue. What I am pointing out is that entailed in the demand to legalize “infant euthanasia” is a demand for another cultural change. If insurance companies, governments, and citizens were always altruistic, then we could engage in the type of myopic perspective Coyne relies on to sell his case. But they are not. Far from it.

    As you say, “The former is passive; the later[sic] is active.” You believe we shouldn’t do the latter because it is active. So you come down on the side of more infant suffering. That’s the central criticism here.

    Why do you think it is so simple? If you go down the cultural road where we kill certain humans for their own good, how can you be sure you have not unleashed changes that will lead to more infant suffering?

    And if you are so concerned only about infant suffering, should we euthanize babies who are born addicted to drugs because their mothers were drug addicts?

    Ultimately your argument is that infants need to suffer in order to keep us away from this slippery slope. That is not at all convincing, especially considering that slippery slope arguments are often fallacious.

    LOL. That would have been a good critique 20 years ago, but given that we see the slippery slope in action, it is rather silly to pretend the concern is fallacious on this one. Did you forget that Jerry Coyne is using the slippery slope as a prop?

    If you are allowed to abort a fetus that has a severe genetic defect, microcephaly, spina bifida, or so on, then why aren’t you able to euthanize that same fetus just after it’s born? I see no substantive difference that would make the former act moral and the latter immoral.-
    Jerry Coyne

    Look, I have noticed that you have been unwilling/unable to answer a simple question – should parents be able to implement “infant euthanasia” for all the same reasons they have abortions?

    For instance the acceptance of gay marriage does not necessarily lead to the acceptance of bestiality, and so forth.

    More straw men. The slippery slope does not entail some future state will necessarily occur. It simply argues that a future state is more likely to occur because it becomes easier to occur.

    As for gay marriage, did you notice that acceptance of polygamy is at an all time high?

    Gallup said 17 percent of Americans surveyed now view polygamy as “morally acceptable.” That’s up from 14 percent in 2016 and seven percent when the survey question first started being recorded in 2003.

    What’s fascinating is who is behind this rise in acceptance:

    Gallup noted that only 12 percent of self-identified Mormons found polygamy “morally acceptable.” The highest percentage of those who said they didn’t have a problem with plural marriage were those who identified as non-religious or did not have a particular faith (about 32%).

    Look, I don’t believe Coyne is all that concerned about infant suffering any more than Dawkins is genuinely concerned about child abuse. These are activists concerned about making cultural changes. Sorry, but I am not about to be played by some activists and pretend we can address this issue completely isolated from any cultural ripple effects.

  34. TFBW says:

    Scott Edwards’ solution to the problem of infant suffering is quick and painless death. What could possibly go wrong? Think of all the suffering we could end!

  35. Scott Edwards says:

    TFBW, I was discussing the choice between euthanasia and death by unhooking a respirator.

    Michael, I was discussing the choice between euthanasia and death by unhooking a respirator. You brought it up by quoting and discussing the Comstock article.

  36. TFBW says:

    @Scott Edwards: so your position is entirely restricted to the special case of the choice between euthanasia and death by unhooking a respirator, backed by no general principle?

  37. grodrigues says:

    @Scott Edwartds:

    “I was discussing the choice between euthanasia and death by unhooking a respirator.”

    No, you are not discussing anything whatsoever, as witnessed by your moral preening, or your question-begging failure to make elementary distinctions, or your elision of any context on “unhooking a respirator” in Catholic hospitals, or your convenient forgetting that Mr. Coyne wrote such things as (emphasis mine) “The notion should be limited to infants with conditions that will kill them soon or, with near certainty, within a *few years*, and will cause them to suffer.”, or that as I pointed out your argument can be used to justify killing just about everyone, etc. and etc. You are exactly what TBFW said, a most tiresome ideologue and to mistake your comments for any kind of serious discussion is to willingly participate in intellectual chicanery.

  38. Regual Llegna says:

    Scott Edwards says:
    “TFBW, I was discussing the choice between euthanasia and death by unhooking a respirator.
    Michael, I was discussing the choice between euthanasia and death by unhooking a respirator. You brought it up by quoting and discussing the Comstock article.”

    If that is true, then your complete argument is reduced to your piety on a personal level. Are you defending Coney argument, Is free will real is not real then enjoy your luck, your words have no valid or personal agency.

    The child is death and many complain, but never had the slightest hope to give.

  39. Regual Llegna says:

    No living being can fix death, the result is fixed, philosophy, science, logic and morality do not change it and will not change it. Zero apologies, only acceptance and denial are possible.

    If people do not care about someone death because apathy/inconvenience/apologies/deflection those people should not complain in their own case, in the anyway that happens and they will complain because in that case their person dies and for many they disappears forever. “Death is the bad and inevitable” is the dogma/truth/focus of life of the nihilist, makes its foundaments endure for the rest of his life.

  40. Scott Edwards says:

    TFBW, the general principle is that one should not inflict more suffering on a child. I’ve answered your question, now answer mine: Why should children suffer for your ideology?

  41. TFBW says:

    @Scott Edwards: “the general principle is that one should not inflict more suffering on a child.” And thus my earlier snark about, “solution to the problem of infant suffering is quick and painless death,” was on point. And yet you dismissed it as being specific to the respirator case. You can’t have it both ways: pick one.

    My ideology is “don’t murder”, and I’m particularly keen that this rule be applied to those least able to defend themselves against it. That ideology may cause suffering from time to time, it’s true, possibly even among children (won’t someone think of the children!), but I think that net suffering is less with that principle in place than not, so perhaps I’m not a complete monster. I’m all for reducing suffering in non-lethal ways, of course.

  42. Scott Edwards says:

    TFBW, I was discussing the choice between euthanasia and death by unhooking a respirator. I guess we just won’t agree that one is murder and the other isn’t. For me, any clever abstract philosophy devised to support that argument pales in comparison to the practical reality of human suffering.

    ====
    When you notice that someone on your side is arguing that children need to suffer in order to serve your ideology:

  43. TFBW says:

    @Scott Edwards:

    I was discussing the choice between euthanasia and death by unhooking a respirator.

    So you’ve said, verbatim, five times now. What you lack in cogency, you make up in repetition.

    Either your specific example has no general application, in which case your decision is an ad hoc one made on the basis of sentiment, or it is based on the general principle, “one should not inflict more suffering on a child.” In the latter case, you have to deal with all the cases which follow from that, and not merely the one that seems to offer you the moral high ground, at least from your own perspective. Repeatedly pointing out that you are discussing the specific case merely draws attention to the fact that you don’t want your principle to be considered in its broader context, which is intellectual cowardice as far as I’m concerned.

    I guess we just won’t agree that one is murder and the other isn’t.

    Correct. I will not excuse murder just because the murderer had sympathetic motives rather than hostile ones. It is a lesser degree of murder, if murder can be said to have degrees (and most seem to think so), but still murder. Mercy killings are for animals, not people. If you cross that line, you have to decide exactly how far you are going to take it — the slippery slope problem, raised early in the OP, which you are assiduously ignoring.

    For me, any clever abstract philosophy devised to support that argument pales in comparison to the practical reality of human suffering.

    Ah — an appeal to emotion, stated quite explicitly. This leaves you open to emotional manipulation, but don’t worry: the bad guys never appeal to emotion to motivate their lackeys. You’ll be fine, so long as you keep your mind free of the corrupting influence of abstract philosophy. To be on the safe side, keep responding with recycled memes rather than cogent arguments, as the latter might engender philosophical tendencies.

  44. Regual llegna says:

    Scott Edwards says:
    “When you notice that someone on your side is arguing that children need to suffer in order to serve your ideology.”

    What “ideology”, is it is the statism that you totally overlook in this case. If is religious ideiology then why people that believe in an afterlife care more than some who don’t with mattters of death in this case? What about Coney non-religious(?) ideology about letting people die because: they maybe not or maybe will not be not offer profit to the society (with extreme relativism about the way some person should die)?

  45. Isaac says:

    The total logical evisceration of Scott Edwards here is why I don’t like to fight on the Internet. In an actual fight, it’s clear to all parties you’ve lost when you physically can’t get up off the floor. On the web someone like Scott can lose an argument in 1,000 different ways and still believe he’s getting the better of it.

  46. Michael says:

    The total logical evisceration of Scott Edwards here is why I don’t like to fight on the Internet. In an actual fight, it’s clear to all parties you’ve lost when you physically can’t get up off the floor. On the web someone like Scott can lose an argument in 1,000 different ways and still believe he’s getting the better of it.

    Interesting point. But don’t underestimate the ability of others to notice. As for myself, it became obvious Scott lost when he actively avoided the core points I made and refused to answer my questions.

  47. Dhay says:

    I see that WM Briggs, in his 10 August 2017 post entitled “Should We Be Allowed To Euthanize Jerry Coyne?” gets it completely wrong in supposing Coyne is probably a dog lover. It’s very unperceptive of Briggs not to notice the ample evidence of Coyne’s love of cats.

    http://wmbriggs.com/post/22373/

    The rest of the post looks perceptive, though.

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