Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King--Human Exceptionalist

Martin Luther King was one of the three primary inspirations in my formative years (the other two being Ralph Nader and JKF). He was all about expanding inclusion in the human community, and alas, we now see many in bioethics and in other disciplines seeking actively to shrink it by rejecting human exceptionalism.

We we will never know for sure, of course, but I have little doubt that King would have rejected such dangerous reductionism. Indeed, he embraced the importance of simply being human, stating:
Man is man because he is free to operate within the framework of his destiny. He is free to deliberate, to make decisions, and to choose between alternatives. He is distinguished from animals by his freedom to do evil or to do good and to walk the high road of beauty or tread the low road of ugly degeneracy.

Martin Luther King, Jr., The Measures of Man, 1959
Indeed. We are the only moral species, a crucial intrinsic attribute that is unique to our natures as a species:
Man was born into barbarism when killing his fellow man was a normal condition of existence. He became endowed with a conscience. And he has now reached the day when violence toward another human being must become as abhorrent as eating another's flesh.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Why We Can't Wait, 1963
I will never understand the desire to deny our exceptionalism. It doesn't lead to hubris, as the unexceptionalists claim, but to benevolence and duty.


  1. what if Dr. King meant all other animals by "another's flesh"? Today we may say consuming any carcass must become as unconscionable as cannibalism since we know enough to know the effect after "The China Study" by Dr. T. Colin Campbell went into print. I recommend referring to it if you really want out of "the meatrix", search that name in youtube!

  2. It's only problematic to see all these beings as equals for those who insist on treating a rat, a pig, or a dog with malice and cruelty that would be unthinkable if done unto kids.

    The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals actually preceded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. An ASPCA law was used to remove a child from severe abuse. How again is the devaluation of humyn life rooted in coming to respect all life? Oh, I would need to buy your book, buy you a decadent lifestyle, right?