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Once a month or so, I edit a newsletter for the Discovery Institute called The Human Exceptionalist.  The point is to present a variety of stories across a broad array of different issues to illustrate the breadth and scope of the challenges to human exceptionalism.  From my introductory note to the current edition:

Evil, I have heard it said, can be defined as treating any human being as an object.  If so, the struggle to maintain human exceptionalism as the foundational value of society is properly viewed as existential struggle, if not between good and evil, than certainly between right and wrong.

The stories reported in this edition of The Human Exceptionalist illustrates why we at the Discovery Institute are so committed to the cause.  For example, a bill has been proposed in the Maryland Legislature that would allow surrogate decision makers to “donate” the organs of patients diagnosed to be in a persistent vegetative state (erroneous, medical studies show, about 40% of the time).  I know some people will say, “What if it is the patient’s child” or some such. But we can’t do it! We can’t treat incompetent patients as objects for the benefit of others. Such a proposal would objectify these helpless people and reduce them to so many organ farms. 

Meanwhile, Canada has a growing problem with sex selection abortion. I am not quite sure why some view abortion for convenience as okay, but as a means to choose the gender of one’s child as a terrible “feticide,” but surely we see in this practice a form of objectification of children to serve parental desires rather than as a recipient of their unconditional love. 

Human objectification leads to a throw-away-some-humans culture. A recent report published by the official Dutch euthanasia oversight committee shows how far euthanasia has moved the Netherlands away from human exceptionalist attitudes.  For example, the committee approved the euthanasia of an elderly woman with macular degeneration and sporadic incontinence. Note that the committee determined that suffering they see as justifying medicalized killing need not be caused by a serious medical condition!

We also have stories of decadent cannibalism—which some have called a hoax—but does it matter?  Meanwhile, Santa Monica has granted legal rights to “nature,” that could be construed as akin to a right to life.

And finally, I have presented an example of the continuing attempt to redefine human exceptionalism in such a way that no one could support it, e.g. as a philosophy that disregards the value of everything outside the human realm. But of course, that is 180 degrees off kilter. Human exceptionalism actually holds that animals and the environment are of ethical concern and that we–as the only duties-bearing creatures in the known universe–have very serious ethical responsibilities toward animals. Hence, animal welfare laws. Hello?

The cause of human exceptionalism is the cause of human equality and world prosperity.  If it goes down, we will all be much the poorer for it.

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