Letter: `Sanctity' of life

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Sir: Paul Vallely may find Peter Singer's rejection of the sanctity of life disturbing, but it is Professor Singer's views that stand up to closer scrutiny ("The man who would kill disabled babies", 14 May).

Belief that life is in itself sacred would demand an equal respect for all life, be it vegetable, insect or animal. Given that most of us would find that view intolerable, the next logical step is to claim that there is something about human, or advanced animal, life which gives it its sanctity. This cannot be the mere fact of it being human. It is rather that human life has certain features, such as sentience and capacity for pleasure and pain which make it valuable. But then, if a human life lacks these features, it lacks what gives it its value.

The notion that human life is of itself sacred is no more than an honourable but ill-founded fiction.

Dr JULIAN BAGGINI

Editor, The Philosophers' Magazine

London N4

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