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Singer on Practical Ethics

bladerunner060
Posts: 7,126
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7/5/2013 12:55:21 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
I'm curious if someone with more knowledge of Peter Singer (or with their own opinions on the subject, but preferably with some knowledge of the basic topic) can parse a statement I've read that he uses as part of his justification for utilitarianism and ethics-as-obligations-to-the-group. Specifically:

"In a dispute between members of a cohesive group of reasoning beings, the demand for a reason is a demand for a justification that can be accepted by the group as a whole."

Does anyone who's read the Expanding Circle, or who knows his theories better than my summary knowledge, or knows them but has their own opinion, know the justification for ethically requiring that a person be a member of the group? Once the cohesive group is recognized, I get most of the reasoning. But if one expressly wished to NOT be part of the group, what grounds are there for obligation? And, when competing groups exist, what grounds does he give for preferring utilitarianism of the whole over, say, selfishness towards the group one is a part of?
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Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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7/5/2013 5:06:01 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
It's nothing about personhood. Singer specifically states in Practical Ethics that personhood is irrelevant to the debate on abortion: he states the focus on personhood is misplaced, and we should be debating when it is wrong to kill. The life of a person is more valuable than a non-person, of course (that is, a human adult is more valuable than a seal or puppy, no matter how cute they are), but non-persons have the right to life as well. As one of the most prominent advocates of the right to life for animals and non-persons who can feel pain, his conclusion can easily be interpolated: do not kill fetuses, unless there is good reason (severe psychological trauma from the family, I would venture, being the line due to some examples he uses) for the death.
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bladerunner060
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7/5/2013 6:06:42 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/5/2013 5:06:01 AM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
It's nothing about personhood. Singer specifically states in Practical Ethics that personhood is irrelevant to the debate on abortion: he states the focus on personhood is misplaced, and we should be debating when it is wrong to kill. The life of a person is more valuable than a non-person, of course (that is, a human adult is more valuable than a seal or puppy, no matter how cute they are), but non-persons have the right to life as well. As one of the most prominent advocates of the right to life for animals and non-persons who can feel pain, his conclusion can easily be interpolated: do not kill fetuses, unless there is good reason (severe psychological trauma from the family, I would venture, being the line due to some examples he uses) for the death.

I know it doesn't... I wasn't saying it was, and I'm kind of confused what made you think I was going that way? I was more thinking of his other positions on ethics. Which is why this is here, instead of, say, in the comments section of a debate on abortion, since it's not related...
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OMGJustinBieber
Posts: 3,484
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7/5/2013 9:51:46 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/5/2013 12:55:21 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:
I'm curious if someone with more knowledge of Peter Singer (or with their own opinions on the subject, but preferably with some knowledge of the basic topic) can parse a statement I've read that he uses as part of his justification for utilitarianism and ethics-as-obligations-to-the-group. Specifically:

"In a dispute between members of a cohesive group of reasoning beings, the demand for a reason is a demand for a justification that can be accepted by the group as a whole."

Does anyone who's read the Expanding Circle, or who knows his theories better than my summary knowledge, or knows them but has their own opinion, know the justification for ethically requiring that a person be a member of the group? Once the cohesive group is recognized, I get most of the reasoning. But if one expressly wished to NOT be part of the group, what grounds are there for obligation? And, when competing groups exist, what grounds does he give for preferring utilitarianism of the whole over, say, selfishness towards the group one is a part of?

As for the first question, I don't think he covers this and I feel we're drifting more into political philosophy in asking whether someone can just disassociate themselves from everything and run off into the woods.

The second question can be answered fairly simply, I think: the whole is simply greater than the group, and in being greater there's simply more utility at stake.
bladerunner060
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7/6/2013 11:19:29 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/5/2013 9:51:46 AM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:


As for the first question, I don't think he covers this and I feel we're drifting more into political philosophy in asking whether someone can just disassociate themselves from everything and run off into the woods.

The second question can be answered fairly simply, I think: the whole is simply greater than the group, and in being greater there's simply more utility at stake.


But only if you accept the utility of the "other" as equal to your own, despite not being in a group with it. I suppose I answered my own question, though, and that it's presupposed to be a "whole" and an overall group regardless if they're considered separate.
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