Agreement between Peter Singer and the Catholic Thought
Peter Singer is an Australian philosopher whose thoughts have been instrumental in major issues like abortion. One of the points of agreement that Singer and the Catholic thought came together was on the protection of life. In consistence with his general ethical philosophy, Singer holds the view that the right to life is essentially linked to an individual’s ability to choose and have preferences. This is inherently inclined to the ability of a person to feel pleasure and pain. Singer has clearly indicated that it is unethical or morally wrong to kill an innocent person. In his thinking, a fetus is an innocent person. He concludes that killing human fetus is not right. This is in accordance with the Catholic thought that has been very vocal against abortion.
Singer makes the declaration that direct abortion that is committed willingly as an end or a means is an act of grave moral misconduct. This can be attributed to the fact that this kind of abortion is considered as taking the life of an innocent human. Singer has even gone on record arguing for the protection of human life. He points out that infants and fetuses should be given legal and moral protection. Besides, he also says that abortion should be categorized under crimes like genocide, torture and slavery. This is an implication that Singer views abortion as an unethical and morally wrong act. Abortion denies an innocent person the right to life. Innocent life should be protected by all necessary means. This is a viewpoint that is shared by Singer and the Catholic Church. However, he also hints on the weighted preference that weighs the preference of the woman against that of the fetus (Camosy 12).
Disagreement between Singer and the Catholic Thought
In his arguments against abortion, Singer points out that the debates are focused on a combination of three factors. One of them is tribal rivalry and the need to see the identity of an individual’s group in opposition to the other. Another factor is increasing fatigue in a very contentious topic that seems to have divided the people. General confusion is also another factor since a lot of people are not aware of what is at stake and even the issues that are being debated. He brings up the argument that the weighted preference is very crucial in the determination of morality and ethics of abortion. He says that before abortion is demonized, people should weigh the preference of both the mother and the fetus. However, he is opposing the act of putting the fetus’ preferences at jeopardy at the expense of the mother’s.
Singer argues that opposition of proposition of abortion should be based on a utilitarian calculation. This brings into comparison, the preference of a female against that of the fetus. This is one of the points whereby Singer is viewed to deviate from the Catholic thought. His definition of preference is anything that people try so hard to avoid or acquire, including all kinds of harm or advantage that is obtained from direct correspondence to the contentment or frustration of the preferences. He is of the idea that a fetus of less than 18 weeks does not possess the ability of having any preferences. His argument is that in such a case, when the preferences of the woman are weighed against the fetus’, the woman is morally correct to undertake abortion is she wishes to do so, provided that the fetus is less than 18 weeks old (Camosy 12).
Morality of Abortion
Weighted preference is the most favorable position in a case about abortion. There is need for the introduction of policies that are aimed at making sure that the interests of both the mother and fetus are protected. Even though several anti-abortion arguments have been inclined towards the right of a person to take the life of another, there are conditions that may facilitate abortion to be done. This is mainly in the event that a pregnancy keeps the life of a mother at risk. There are various circumstances that may force pregnant mothers to secure abortion. For example, if the mother has contracted a health condition that jeopardizes the mother and fetus, this would necessitate abortion.
This has been well articulated by Singer’s weighted preference model. For example, if a pregnancy will kill the mother and the fetus lives, it means that the preferences of both have not been protected. A baby should be born into a world where it would receive the best care. This is the child’s preference that is acknowledged universally. However, in the event that the mother dies and leaves the baby behind, then the interests of the infant are also at risk. The mother should be allowed to live and sire the other children, at a time when she is well placed to take care of them. However, it should be noted that abortion should not be applied as a means or an end to something.
On the other hand, it has been found out that many people take part in abortion for all the wrong reasons. Most of the abortions that are undertaken across the globe are done by people who are not yet ready to become mothers. This is committed without any regards to the preferences of the fetus, and also lack of knowledge on the protection of innocent lives. This is the main reason why most people think that abortion is an evil act. For example, the carelessness of a young couple having unsafe sex is not supposed to be given any consideration for the procurement of abortion. This is because there are various methods of birth control that can be applied by many across the world. When people procure abortions in an effort to correct their mistakes or carelessness, then it can as well be classified as murder that devalues human life.
It has also been argued that when abortion is allowed to gain roots into various moral and legal policies, people would be allowed to continue with their acts of sexual immorality since there is an opportunity for securing an abortion. This is demeaning to the preferences of the fetus. There have been cases of women procuring abortions of fetuses that have attained the age where they can feel pain. This is an indication that the protection of the interests of the fetus should be given precedence and that people should not be given the freedom of procuring abortions just because it is entrenched in the legal and moral structures. Abortion should only be done after considering the preferences and the decision should not be made selfishly with inclination towards the preferences of the mother only but it is also important to look into the interests and preferences of the fetus.
Camosy, Charles C. Peter Singer and Christian Ethics: Beyond Polarization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.