In that in this doctrine, Singer has implied that

Defense of Infanticide

when heard of, speaks of an unspeakable and unthinkable crime of killing an
innocent child. It is an act of taking a life of an infant who has yet to grow
and become a full pledged member of the society, contributing their knowledge
and skills for its development. Surely, one can say that infanticide is wrong
for it can be synonymous to the word “murder” which is viewed as an unlawful
act of taking the life of another person. Yet, some people have proposed that
infanticide could be justified and could be morally accepted, presenting defenses
for it. These people are namely, Peter Singer and Michael Tooley.1                                     

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as Non-Human

            One of the main
arguments of Singer and Tooley in defending infanticide is their claim that
infants cannot be considered as humans. Michael Tooley stated that a human being
possesses a serious right to life when that human has a concept of self as a
continuing subject of experiences and mental states. In Tooley’s perspective,
infants do not qualify to those standards.2

wrote in his book Practical Ethics, “Human babies are not born
self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not
persons”; therefore, “the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a
pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.”3
For Singer one must be self-aware to be considered as a human. In doing so, he
gave birth to a doctrine known as functionalism. Functionalism measures a human
based on what that individual can and can’t do. In an article by Scott
Klusendorf criticizing Singer’s claim and pointing out major flaws in his
proposal, he has stated that in this doctrine, Singer has implied that individuals,
who are not functional, infants and mentally disabled people, are not to be
considered as humans for they lack the needed rationality possessed by a human
being. In this sense, individuals who have higher rationality or intellectual ability
could be considered as more of a person than people who has lower rationality
than him/her.4

            For Singer,
killing an infant is not equivalent to killing a person because unlike a person
who has a desire to live, infants are not rational and is not self-conscious
therefore, killing infants is acceptable. Although it may be acceptable to
Singer, he still viewed infanticide wrong in some cases and should have strict
conditions in permitting it.5
But, nonetheless for these two philosophers infants are not human in a sense
that they do not possess the rational mind that divides humans from the rest of




2 Michael Tooley, “Abortion and
Infanticide,” in Rights and Wrongs of Abortion, ed. Marshall Cohen,
Thomas Nagel, and Thomas Scanlon (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press,
1974), 57.


Scott. “Peter Singer’s
Bold Defense of Infanticide” in Christian
Research Journal. Volume 23. No. 3. Available at Accessed: January 14, 2018.


4 Ibid.


5 Ibid.