Analyse & Kritik

Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory

Euthanasie heute - Thema oder Tabu?

1990 (12) Issue 2


Der australische Philosoph Peter Singer soll mit Gewalt zum Schweigen gebracht werden. Er hat mit der Euthanasie ein moralisches Problem zum Thema der öffentlichen Erörterung gemacht, das nach Meinung seiner deutschen Gegner ein Tabu bleiben muß. Die Botschaft, die von diesen Gegnern Singers ausgeht - unter ihnen eine Reihe von Philosophieprofessoren -, besteht nicht darin, daß Singer Auffassungen vertritt, die in der Sache hart kritisiert werden müssen, sondern die Botschaft lautet: Man so...

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Table of Contents

Title: Zwischen Leben entscheiden: Eine Verteidigung
Author: Peter Singer / Helga Kuhse
Page: 119-130

Abstract: We examine the view that all human life is of equal worth or sanctity. We find that this view is a legacy of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and cannot be justified in non-religious terms. We therefore argue that it should be rejected, and that we should openly acknowledge that some lives are of less worth than others. We then consider a common objection: that this will lead us down a slippery slope to Nazi-style atrocities. We give our reasons for finding this objection unpersuasive. We explain why no-one has any grounds for feeling threatened by our proposal. Finally we discuss who should make the decision involved in selecting whether a person should come into existence, and how that decision should be carried out.

Title: Peter Singer und die Pädagogik für Behinderte. Der Beginn der Singer-Affäre
Author: Christopher Anstötz
Page: 131-148

Abstract: The article gives an account of the prelude to an extensive ethical debate in Germany which was sparked off by an invitation to the Australian philosopher Peter Singer to speak at the University of Dortmund. He was to lecture about the right to life of severely handicapped new-born babies. But among special educators this theme provoked violent protests throughout the country; organisations of the disabled and various other groups forced the cancellation of the lecture and discussion with Peter Singer The kind of dispute which follows in special education is not to be judged without consideration of the methodological background of this young discipline. The events around the ,Singer affair, have shown severe methodological deficits, which may or rather must be cured in future.

Title: Philosophie und Öffentlichkeit. Anmerkungen zur Euthanasiedebatte
Author: Ursula Wolf
Page: 149-161

Abstract: This paper attempts to analyse and criticize the arguments and motives of those who reject any discussion of active euthanasia. A distinction is drawn between freedom of discussion in academic and in public contexts. Academic discussion demands unrestricted freedom, whereas in public debates the feelings of the groups concerned should be considered. The author argues that these restrictions are not serious enough to justify suppressing the debate. Problems of euthanasia are too vital to be left to the experts without public control.

Title: Schwierigkeiten der moralischen Aufklärung
Author: Rainer Hegselmann
Page: 162-173

Abstract: The article argues that a central part of moral integrity under the condition of moral enlightenment consists in virtues concerning thinking and discussing about moral problems.

Title: Ein guter Philosoph ist stets darauf bedacht, ob nicht auch ein anderer Böses macht
Author: Hartmut Kliemt
Page: 174-189

Abstract: The fact that Peter Singer was prevented from lecturing in Germany as well as the fact that the discussion of his book ,Practical Ethics, was rendered impossible raises important questions about freedom. Surprisingly some philosophers have joined the political factions which strive to suppress free discussion. In this quite polemical article some of their views are rejected. The only way to weed out error is free discussion.

Title: Das Töten von Tieren und von Föten
Author: Wolfgang Lenzen
Page: 190-204

Abstract: Singer's ,Practical Ethics, is based on a form of utilitarianism which takes into account the interests of a living being if and only if it displays a minimum of rationality and (self-)consciousness. Accordingly aborting a human fetus in an early stage of development is held to be morally acceptable, whereas killing chicken, pigs, and cattle for mere culinary pleasure is not. Singer's view on abortion are refuted because they only consider the actual properties of the fetus but ignore the quality, of its future life. In general the ,principle of replaceability, must be rejected. And although making animals suffer certainly is immoral, mere (painless) killing does not necessarily do so great a harm to them that we have to become vegetarians.

Title: Utilitaristische Ethik und Tötungsverbot. Zu Peter Singers Praktische Ethik
Author: Dieter Birnbacher
Page: 205-218

Abstract: One of the standard criticisms of classical utilitarian is that it is unable to provide an adequate ethical foundation for the wrongness of killing. It is reasoned that the five arguments against killing available to the classical utilitarian are indeed sufficient to provide such a foundation and that recourse to preference utilitarianism is neither called for nor helpful since it generates a number of problems of its own. On this basis, Singer's discussion of selective abortion and the selective euthanasia of newborns is criticized from within utilitarianism for not giving sufficient weight to direct and indirect social side-effects, especially if ,external, criteria are introduced into the valuation of human life.

Title: Singer über Rechte, Recht auf Leben und Euthanasie
Author: Jean-Claude Wolf
Page: 219-225

Abstract: Rights are not redundant elements of a plausible utilitarian theory and the right to life is an inseparable companion of the rights to nourishment and to medical care. The deeper reason for this thesis is the interdependence of values corning vitality. In this perspective it is inconsistent to say that the newborn is unable to have a right to life, but has a right to be fed. The hidden premise of Singer's rebuttal of involuntary euthanasia is a theory of rights as vetoes against imposed benefits. Without openly subscribing to such a theory there is no answer to ,logical slippery slope, arguments and no protection against dangerous ,quality of life, considerations as a basis of decisions over life and death.

Title: Kindstötung und das Lebensrecht von Personen
Author: Norbert Hoerster
Page: 226-244

Abstract: According to the view of Peter Singer, only persons deserve a right to life. As a consequence, a human being can claim such a right only at a certain point of its postnatal development and there is no essential moral difference between infanticide and abortion. Against this view, it is argued that - even on the basis of personhood as the fundamental criterion there are convincing pragmatical reasons for attributing a right to life in social practice at the point of birth. It is also shown how this position can be combined with a morally satisfactory position on the important problem of the treatment of infants who are severely handicapped.

Title: The 'Singer-Affair' and Practical Ethics: A Response
Author: Peter Singer
Page: 245-264

Abstract: This response to the articles in this issue of ,ANALYSE & KRITIK, begins with some general remarks on the ,Singer-Affair, in which I suggest that while the rational discussion of the ethical issue of euthanasia poses no threat of a return to Nazism, there is a real danger in the creation of a climate in which people are ready to use force to suppress ideas with which they disagree. I then state and criticise two popular theses about the wrongness of killing: that there is a crucial moral distinction between an act and an omission, and that all human beings possess an intrinsic right to life that no nonhuman beings have. This serves as a background to the section that follows, in which I take up the detailed criticisms of my views made by Professors Lenzen, Birnbacher, J. C. Wolf and Hoerster.