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Human Exceptionalism

Center on Human Exceptionalism

Attacking the Ties that Bind

Like everyone else, I have been pondering the recent “senseless” slaughters in places as disparate as Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, and Sutherland Springs—atrocities in which lone sociopathic gunmen icily annihilated their fellow human beings, including babies and children, with all the moral concern of an exterminator eradicating a termite infestation. I distinguish these mass murders from the attacks committed by Read More ›

A Right to the Baby WE WANT

Whenever I write about the underregulated multi-billion-dollar infertility industry, I receive anguished emails from women who can’t become pregnant, declaring that they “would do anything to have a baby.” I can certainly empathize with their sadness, but their willingness to do anything is a problem. This deep and very human yearning has led to the development of technologies that are moving us Read More ›

Death Panels May Be Only Part of Obamacare to Die

Obamacare “repeal and replace” may have failed this year, but that doesn’t mean the Affordable Care Act can’t be significantly defanged. For example, there is still time to excise the Independent Payment Advisory Board from the law before it is up and running. IPAB’s stated purpose is to contain Medicare costs, a laudable goal. But the powers granted to the Read More ›

Euthanasia for Alzheimer’s Patients?

The medically vulnerable have rarely been in greater jeopardy. Alzheimer’s disease patients are at particular risk. In a recent poll from Quebec—where lethal-injection euthanasia is legal—a chilling 72 percent of caregivers favor permitting Alzheimer’s patients to be euthanized, even if the afflicted person never requested euthanasia. If the patient requested euthanasia in writing upon becoming incompetent, the percentage of caregivers Read More ›

Justice for Jahi

In California, Jahi McMath is legally dead. In New Jersey, she is legally alive. Now, the deceased—or profoundly disabled—teenager is the subject of litigation that could make history. A quick rundown: In 2013, the then thirteen-year-old girl suffered a cardiac arrest after undergoing throat surgery. Jahi’s brain was deprived of oxygen, and her doctors at the highly respected Children’s Hospital Read More ›

How the Media Promote (Some) Suicides

I began my work against assisted suicide in 1993. The emotional zeitgeist at the time focused intensely—and exclusively—on preventing all suicides. Since then, I have witnessed a very disturbing transition. Today’s society asks us to support suicide in circumstances involving serious illness, disability, and even advanced age. Meanwhile, despite an increase in suicide rates, the intensity of suicide prevention campaigns has declined. As Read More ›

AI Should Never Have “Rights”

Efforts to expand rights beyond the human realm are ubiquitous and reflect, in my view, a deep misanthropy and a threat to universal human rights. That includes the movement to declare sophisticated artificial intelligent machines (“strong AI,” not yet here) to be “persons,” entitled to entry into the moral community. Today, there is an extensive discussion of this meme in Religion & Read More ›

The Young and the Vulnerable

When I was a small boy, polio terrified me. Each year, it would strike thousands of children like me—and you never knew when or where it would hit next. In the 1952 epidemic, a very bad year, there were nearly 60,000 reported cases in the United States and more than 3,000 deaths. Summer was the worst time, and I recall Read More ›

Let’s Use Pigs as Organ “Donors”

There are approximately 120,000 Americans on the organ transplant waiting list, about as many people as live in Charleston, South Carolina and Hartford, Connecticut. Many of these people’s lives will ultimately be saved, after long and harrowing waits—as former Vice President Dick Cheney’s was. But others on the list will die before their turn comes up and a suitable donor Read More ›