Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Singer and the reign

LifeSiteNews had a recent article about Peter Singer's claims that being a member of the human species isn't sufficient for deserving human rights - specifically the right to life. OK, but what is the basis for making that claim?

To be honest I haven't read much of what Singer has written, mostly because I find it to be so much adolescent trash. Utilitarianism just isn't very useful, ironically, for making any sense of the world. In high school a buddy and I made up an ethical framework in an afternoon. We called it "entropism". Just as utilitarianism aims to reduce "suffering", entropism aims to limit entropy.

For the non-physic geek reader, entropy is a concept in thermodynamics that refers to the amount of disorder in a system.  In the universe entropy can only increase, never decrease, and so the universe will eventually reach a state where entropy is high enough that life cannot exists, The goal of entropism was to prolong the useful life of the universe by keeping entropy as low as possible.

A window has less entropy than smashed bits of glass, therefore destruction of property is "wrong" (according to entropism). Higher forms of life are more organized and therefore should be protected. When you think about is, entropism makes every bit as much sense as utilitarianism, and suffers from many of the same problems. In fact, entropism is superior to utilitarianism in that the entropy of a system can be calculated and quantified,while "suffering" is a rather fuzzy subjective concept.

Now if two high school kids were able to come up with entropism, explore its implications, and reject it as stupid in the same afternoon, it boggles my mind to imagine that utilitarianism could exist in the minds of any intelligent person for more than a day or so, let alone be a force that drives large portions of societies or governments (such as Nazi Germany).


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