14 November 2006

First, We Kill The Ethicists.


Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart has a low-ish opinion of the ethicists' guild and all its pomps:

" . . . there is good cause to suspect, from a purely utilitarian vantage, that academic ethicists—especially those like Fletcher, who are notoriously mediocre thinkers, possessed of small culture, no discernible speculative gifts, no records of substantive philosophical achievement, and execrable prose styles—constitute perhaps the single most useless element in society. If reproduction is not a right but a social function, should any woman be allowed to bring such men into the world? And should those men be permitted, in their turn, to sire offspring?
Actually, he's just making a point (a good and undeniable one) about the intrinsically vicious and malevolent nature of eugenic thinking:

. . . If I were asked to decide what qualities to suppress or encourage in the human species, I might first attempt to discover if there is such a thing as a genetic predisposition to moral idiocy and then, if there is, to eliminate it; then there would be no more Joseph Fletchers (or Peter Singers, or Linus Paulings, or James Rachels), and I might think all is well. But, of course, the very idea is a contradiction in terms. Decisions regarding who should or should not live can, by definition, be made only by those who believe such decisions should be made; and therein lies the horror that nothing can ever exorcise from the ideology behind human bioengineering. . ."
Here's the whole thing. It's from a two member New Atlantis symposium on John Paul II's "Theology of the Body." The other contribution is from Robert Jenson.
 

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