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Reactions to Singer

juliasmith's picture

Although I've read this piece by Singer before, I was equally shocked the second time through. Although he presents a clear logical flow for his argument, his entire belief system rests on the assumption that disabled people are worse off than nondisabled people. To me, this assumption is incredibly unfair and I don't have much patience for reading Singer's arguments. 

I find Harriet McBryde Johnson's experiences with Singer particularly interesting because she does come to enjoy Singer's company in a way and even to see him as human even though she is so deeply opposed to his beliefs. For example, Johnson writes "I've come to believe that Singer actually is human, even kind in his way." I've been trying to understand how Johnson comes to appreciate Singer in this way despite the fact that his system of ethics could mean that Johnson wouldn't live past infancy. I keep thinking about the moment where Johnson enlists Singer to help her at the dinner table when her arm slips, and how this was an empowering moment for her instead of a disempowering one. I think she felt empowered because in this moment she showed Singer an example of how simple it can be for her to enjoy daily life. Johson describes how her feelings towards Singer become feelings of sympathy becuase he cannot escape his prejudiced view of disabled lives as worse off and lacking happiness. This made me wonder whether I should be changing my feelings of alarm at Singer's arguments to feelings of sympathy.