Journal of Medical Ethics on Infanticide, Abortion

coverIn January 2012, the Journal of Medical Ethics published a controversial article suggesting that the reasons that support legalized abortion should also be invoked to permit infanticide, something the authors refer to as after-birth abortion. More recently, an American physician was convicted of murder, and now faces the death penalty, for infanticides that he defended as abortions.

The original Journal of Medical Ethics article generated an outcry of opposition from physicians, philosophers, and even on the floor of the United States Congress. The journal’s editor, Julian Savulescu, issued a statement defending the article’s publication, while also affirming his own opposition to infanticide. Now, the journal has released a special edition on the debate, which includes both pro-choice and pro-life responses. For the next month, access to the special edition is free.

Also available is a brief but engaging interview with Nigel Biggar on the topic, conducted by the BBC’s David Edmunds. Download directly from the JME or listen here:

Finally, the issue includes an exchange between Charles Camosy, former McDonald Visiting Fellow, and Princeton’s Robert George—both of whom oppose abortion under any circumstances, but who disagree about how best to engage those who differ. The question of how best to make the public case for or against abortion was previously addressed on this site by the McDonald Centre’s John Perry.

New Book: Peter Singer & Christian Ethics

Peter Singer and Christian EthicsThe first book to emerge from last year’s McDonald Centre conference on Peter Singer has just been published by Cambridge University Press.

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon USA.

No living philosopher is most controversial than Peter Singer. In this book, Charlie Camosy, who is currently Visiting Fellow at the McDonald Centre, offers a critical, but constructive reading of Singer’s arguments on animal rights, euthanasia, poverty, and abortion. He finds important and surprising areas of common ground between Singer and Christian ethics, but he also does not hold back in pressing Singer where his views are lacking. The book is a model of the McDonald Centre’s vision that Christians can in public engage generously, rigorously, and candidly, even with views that they do not share.

From the back cover:

Interaction between Peter Singer and Christian ethics, to the extent that it has happened at all, has been unproductive and often antagonistic. Singer sees himself as leading a ‘Copernican Revolution’ against a sanctity of life ethic, while many Christians associate his work with a ‘culture of death.’ Charles Camosy shows that this polarized understanding of the two positions is a mistake. While their conclusions about abortion and euthanasia may differ, there is surprising overlap in Christian and Singerite arguments, and disagreements are interesting and fruitful. Furthermore, it turns out that Christians and Singerites can even make common cause, for instance in matters such as global poverty and the dignity of non-human animals. Peter Singer and Christian ethics are far closer than almost anyone has imagined, and this book is valuable to those who are interested in fresh thinking about the relationship between religious and secular ethics.

More information is available from Cambridge University Press and Facebook. Camosy is a regular contributor to the blog, Catholic Moral Theology.

Biggar & Singer Debate in Standpoint

Following the recent conference, Standpoint magazine convened a dialogue between Peter Singer and Nigel Biggar. Hosted by Standpoint editor, Daniel Johnson, the conversation spans a variety of topics, including the value of human and animal life, the morality of killing, abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, and others.

Standpoint: We have just been attending a conference in Oxford entitled Christian Ethics Engages Peter Singer. Perhaps we should kick off with a question that you, Nigel, asked at the end of the conference. On what grounds, Peter, would you give greater weight to the interests, the preferences, theneeds of the Jewish victims in the Holocaust, rather than the Nazi perpetrators? …  Read the debate in full.

Public Events: Peter Singer in Oxford

For those who were unable to secure a place at our Peter Singer conference, there remain two other opportunities to interact with him during his visit to Oxford.

Global Poverty: How Much Can You Achieve?
Sponsored by Giving What We Can
Friday, 20 May · 15:00 – 16:30
Examination Schools

When Morality Demands More than Humans are Likely to Do
Wednesday, 18 May · 17:00 – 18:30
Corpus Christi College, MBI Al Jaber Building

Abortion After the Culture Wars

The mission statement of the McDonald Centre lists one of its goals as fostering “conversation, at once charitable and candid, with other traditions of religious and philosophical thought”—on even the most controversial issues, in even the most divisive settings. For this reason, we are eager to share news of an upcoming conference that does just that, organized by some of our American friends at Fordham and Princeton.

Like the McDonald Centre, the conference seeks to create a healthy, generous conversation on one of the most controversial issues of all in the U.S. Culture Wars. It runs 15-16 October at Princeton and is titled, Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Fair Minded Words: A Conference on Life and Choice in the Abortion Debate. With sessions that include John Finnis and Peter Singer appearing on the same stage, this promises to be one of the most important discussions of abortion in recent years. Full details available here.

For an earlier comment from the McDonald Centre on the topic, see Two Minnesota Films on Abortion.