Scrutinise Ethics for Children, Before it’s Too Late

Preventing legalisation of euthanasia in a society surely starts with providing kids with sound ethical frameworks by which to evaluate such laws.

In the State Parliament of New South Wales, an Inquiry is ongoing to evaluate the worth of ethics classes provided to children whose parents do not wish them to attend classes based on Scripture.

Recently, Catherine Suttie, the ethics program coordinator at Sydney’s Randwick Public School, appearing as a witness to the Inquiry, on behalf of Parents 4 Ethics.  Suttie professed not to have heard much about the utilitarian philosopher, Professor Peter Singer. She was ignorant not only of Singer’s views on the possibility of sexual relations between humans and animals, but also, more worryingly, of his belief that some children with disabilities should be euthanised.

Whilst children may not be asked directly to consider euthanasia or inter-species sexual relations, the prospect of children being taught utilitarian thinking, as a method equal to any other for organising and making sense of their lives, is disturbing. How would it affect relations between students from different backgrounds, with or without disabilities, many of whom may not be able to see the limitations of such philosophy?

It is to be expected that one of those protesting so much at the scrutiny of  Singer’s philosophy and its place in schools is a Greens MP. Peter Singer co-authored the Greens Party’s Manifesto, which includes the introduction of euthanasia laws as one of the Party’s ideals.

 

 

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About Daniel

I am a man with a disability living in Canberra, Australia. I'm passionate about the lives of people with disabilities - our joys, achievements, sorrows and setbacks. I want to encourage the people who support and love us, and stand firmly against obstacles placed in our way that may even threaten our very existence.
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10 Responses to Scrutinise Ethics for Children, Before it’s Too Late

  1. Another scary man that one! I have always tried to ignore Peter Singer so my blood doesn’t boil, but you have reminded me that one must always keep an eye out for threats such as these! Thanks Daniel.

  2. Joan Apthorp says:

    We’re supposed to think it’s good to be green, but the Greens have a most unpalatable agenda. So kind to animals, so inhumane to humans…

  3. Leonie Holmes says:

    It is a weird world we live in when parents complain about Christianity being available in our schools and yet they allow so much rubbish in with no questions asked. Keep up the good work of making people think. Love Leonie Holmes

  4. I’d like to make the point that the subject of Peter Singer was brought up by the Inquiry committee member to get some controversy and tie him and his ideas to the Ethics Class in NSW.

    Peter Singer and his views are not and never have been part of the curriculum of the Ethics classes and are therefore irrelevant to the discussion.

    • Daniel says:

      I’m glad to hear that Doctor Singer’s views are not included in New South Wales Ethics classes. I do, however, believe that teaching a particular ethical viewpoint steers children towards a view of human life as losing its inherent value if the person ceases to be capable of basic functions. We are people worthy of respect no matter our capabilities.

  5. While I’m at it. We do not complain about Christianity being available in schools, however we do wish to have a worthwhile alternative if we don’t want our children to be exposed to proselytism.

    • Daniel says:

      Thank you for your comment. This ‘blog is not specifically Christian, nor is it tied to any other organisation or Church. It is simply a fact that many who oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide do so from a position of Faith. There are many other legal and ethical reasons for opposing these, and I encourage all to state them.

  6. Catherine Suttle says:

    Dear Daniel and all
    I am the witness you are discussing. Daniel, you say that I was ignorant of Peter Singer’s views on the possibility of sexual relations and his belief that some children with disabilities should be euthanised. This is not correct. I actually said that I was not aware that Peter Singer had justified sexual relations between humans and other animals, because, while he has discussed it, I would not say that he has “justified” this behaviour. You also said that I did not know of his belief that some children with disabilities should be euthanised. In fact, I declined to answer that question on the basis that it was not relevant to the topic under discussion, ethics classes for children. I also pointed out that I did not think these issues would be discussed in those classes. The issue of Peter Singer and his views have nothing to do with ethics classes and nothing to do with the Inquiry.

    • Daniel says:

      Dear Catherine,

      Thank you for your correction, which I unreservedly accept. Whereas I am pleased to know that the views of Peter Singer are not taught in ethics classes for children, I am most interested to have a fuller explanation of the philosophical framework underpinning those classes,so that students can hopefully gain from them a correct understanding of the inherent value of human life. I believe a chance to discuss the treatment of children with disabilities does have some bearing on how children are taught and the formation of the society in which we all live.

  7. Lyle Dunne says:

    Daniel,

    Don’t know if youve seen this on The Drum –
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-08-15/young-case-against-peter-singer/4199120

    but I think you’ll find it interesting. Do you know the author?
    (I always have a bit of an Emperor’s-new-clothes sense with Singer: it feels like he’s just making it up as he goes.)
    Lyle.

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