Evidently Prof Richard Dawkins tweeted a remark this week about Down Syndrome babies that properly horrified thousands if not millions of people. I missed it, but today’s New York Times contains an informative article that refutes his rather casual and frankly nauseating position.
Dawkins has made a career out of stirring up outrage (I’m rather envious, actually), but this time he seems to have done so inadvertently, and issued something of a retraction and apology.
That noted, even in his follow-up, he refers to a Down Syndrome baby as “it” which is inexcusable:
“I personally would go further and say that, if your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare.”
Whatever your views on such matters as abortion, ethics, parenthood, etc., this is no way to talk. It’s also evident that the Professor’s grasp of moral science is elementary at best: that’s as clear a statement of why raw utilitatrianism (“increase the sum of happiness,” etc.) fails miserably as code of conduct. Maybe he should take some time off and enroll in an ethics class — dp univerisities still have philosophy departments, or were they defunded to distribute resources to the athletic programs and coaches’ salaries?
Rather nasty stuff, Professor, although I’m certain most of the Down Syndrome persons I’ve had the pleasure to meet and work with would shrug it off, tell me to chill, and give us both hugs. They’re by and large better people than the rest of us, when it comes to matters like this.