February 24, 2024

Why not bestiality, asks bioethicist

In the footsteps of Peter Singer

As taboos go, bestiality is right up there with incest, smoking and blowing your nose
in the tablecloth. But following in the footsteps of the utilitarian philosopher
Peter Singer, fringe bioethicist Jacob M. Appel contends that there are no
logical reasons to ban it.

Singer has not argued the case for bestiality in academic journals. However,
he did write a short article in 2001 for an on-line magazine suggesting that it
might not be abusive. Since then, some American states and even the Netherlands
have made it a criminal offence.

Now Appel, who is not adverse to taboo-smashing, has defended it in similar
terms. "The burden should be placed upon the prohibitionists to explain why a
small minority of individuals with non-mainstream sexual interests pose a threat
to our overall societal welfare… The test of a truly enlightened civilization
is one that lets people alone, to pursue their own predilections, even when the
majority of us prefer to live our lives very differently from theirs."

In response, bioethics writer Wesley J. Smith argued: "The great
philosophical question of the 21st Century is going to be whether we will knock
humans off the pedestal of moral exceptionalism and instead define ourselves as
just another animal in the forest… Nothing would more graphically demonstrate
our unexceptionalism than countenancing human/animal sex." ~ Oppposing
Views, Mar 15