There is a subtle panic in her eyes: she is trying to read me, trying to understand what it is I could want from her, but she picks up nothing at all from my best encouraging face.
Currently we can feel as though we are trapped in our homes. However, there is a window out of self-isolation into the experience of many others; those who must always do life at a slower pace.
While in some ways the COVID-19 pandemic is unifying the community around the globe, in others it is legitimating archaic values and hierarchies.
These men, despite their depths of hard-won wisdom and delightful companionship, are well-accustomed to strangers keeping their distance in public places. The conditions we ironically bemoan on social media are barely distinguishable from how they have spent most of the days of their lives. They are old pros at quarantine, and they are teaching me.
The Globe and Mail reported a recent Danish headline that reads “Plans to Make Denmark a Down syndrome-free perfect society”. In Denmark the discussion is taking place regarding aborting fetuses with Down Syndrome so their society will be “free of” such people around 2030.
Utilitarianism forms the backbone of Singer’s theories. For him, ethics and the question of personhood should be rooted in ‘quality of life’ rather than in hypothetical ideas about ‘sanctity’. Much of his thinking revolves around the question “can they suffer?” As such, animals and humans are placed on equal terms. For him the question is not between human and animal, but between ‘person’ and ‘non-person’.
One important idea that has been resonating in philosophical circles over the past two decades is a growing conversation regarding the difference between what is ‘human’ and who is a ‘person’. The ideas of what constitutes a ‘person’ are certainly not new. We find the roots of these controversial discussions in the writings of the Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Many of the new ‘ideas’ are simply a repackaging of very old ones.