4 Singer, P. (2011 [1979]) Practical ethics, 3rd ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ... it's worth asking if Peter Singer and his "effective altruism" fit neatly into either of the two above categories. Membership of a species is no more relevant in these circumstances than membership of a race or sex. would be the view we ought to take if only those who can reciprocate are within the bounds of ethics. Perhaps the area in which speciesism can most clearly be observed is the use of animals in experiments. (1996 [1781]) Introduction to the principles of moral and legislation, Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 282n. The suggestion is, in other words, that we treat individuals not in accordance with their actual qualities, but in accordance with the qualities normal for their species. We do not need to eat meat for our health and so meat eating is a luxury, consumed because people like the taste. In that book Singer made a break with the dominant but limited Kantian argument that mistreating animals is a bad – inhumane – thing for humans to do. This reply, which has been dubbed 'the argument from marginal cases' (because grossly defective humans are thought of as being at the margins of humanity) is very forceful, because most of us find horrifying the idea of using mentally defective humans in painful experiments, or fattening them for gourmet dinners. (1999) Ethical explorations, Oxford: Oxford University Press. To the hypothetical question about saving thousands of people through a single experiment on an animal, opponents of speciesism can reply with a hypothetical question of their own: would experimenters be prepared to perform their experiments on orphaned humans with severe and irreversible brain damage if that were the only way to save thousands? Jan Narveson - 1967 - Mind 76 (301):62-72. A stone does not have interests because it cannot suffer. No matter how self-interested the origins of ethics may be, it is possible that once we have started thinking ethically we are led beyond these mundane premises. There is also a sense in which it is the most basic form of animal use, the foundation stone on which rests the belief that animals exist for our pleasure and convenience. Some philosophers have claimed that there is a more profound difference. So, given the many terrible ways in which wild animals are harmed in nature, their plight should be very important to utilitarians, as well as to those who follow certain other ethical approaches. Its skin is thick enough to protect it against a mere slap. In some situations a member of one species will suffer more than a member of another species. That there is a huge gulf between humans and animals was unquestioned for most of the course of Western civilization. If a being suffers, there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration. If we make a distinction between animals and these humans, how can we do it, other than on the basis of a morally indefensible preference for members of our own species? Unless some additional universal element is brought in, one group of people has no reason to deal ethically with another if it is not in their interest to do so. Epicurus 4. (1984) Utility and rights, Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Nothing that we can do to it could possibly make any difference to its welfare. In the previous chapter I gave reasons for believing that the fundamental principle of equality, on which the equality of all human beings rests, is the principle of equal consideration of interests. There seems to be no morally relevant characteristic that such humans have which nonhuman animals lack. (ed.) We are now considering only the application of the principle of equal consideration of interests. It is a view which has never gained general acceptance, but has not died away either. Just as the first mathematicians, who may have started counting in order to keep track of the number of people in their tribe, had no idea that they were taking the first steps along a path that would lead to the infinitesimal calculus, so the origin of ethics tells us nothing about where it will end. The lives of free-ranging animals are undoubtedly better than those of animals reared in factory farms. 1 In this work, and in subsequent development of its ideas, 2 Singer argues that the moral theory known as utilitarianism can be used to justify and defend the moral claims of non-human animals. For most people in modern, urbanized societies, the principal form of contact with nonhuman animals is at meal times. This interpretation of the objection makes two basic mistakes, one a mistake of fact and the other an error of reasoning. Apart from taking their lives there are also many other things done to animals in order to bring them cheaply to our dinner table. The capacity for suffering - or more strictly, for suffering and/or enjoyment or happiness - is not just another characteristic like the capacity for language, or for higher mathematics. For this reason, the first utilitarian theorists, such as Jeremy Bentham,1 John Stuart Mill2 and Henry Sidgwick,3 argued for the moral consideration of nonhuman animals. When we feed these grains to animals, only about 10% of the nutritional value remains as meat for human consumption. He found that in this way he could reduce the monkeys to a state in which, when placed among normal monkeys, they sat huddled in a corner in a state of persistent depression and fear. When I see my daughter fall and scrape her knee, I know that she feels pain because of the way she behaves - she cries, she tells me her knee hurts, she rubs the sore spot, and so on. It is the mental anguish which makes the human's position so much harder to bear. It is true that, with the exception of those apes who have been taught to communicate by sign language, they cannot actually say that they are feeling pain_ but then when my daughter was a little younger she could not talk either. Since animals cannot reciprocate, they are, on this view, outside the limits of the ethical contract. Species membership makes a nice sharp dividing line, whereas levels of self-consciousness, autonomy or sentience do not. They have claimed that animals cannot think or reason, and that accordingly they have no conception of themselves, no self-consciousness. Nor, for that matter, can comparisons of suffering between different be made precisely. Peter Singer (1946) is an Australian moral philosopher and the most influential living proponent of utilitarianism. Suppose that we did hunt for our food, though, and this was part of some natural evolutionary process. Peter Singer: wrote the book Animal Liberation in 1975, which is often credited as being responsible for directing the public’s concern to the oppression of nonhuman animals, thereby inspiring the animal liberation movement. This last point is an important one, for we are not now considering cases in which the lives of self-conscious beings are at risk but cases in which self-conscious beings will go on living, their faculties intact, whatever we decide. Some have found it difficult to accept that the differences between us and the other animals are differences of degree rather than kind. Since the publication of the first edition in 1975, Singer’s work has been read, de Lazari-Radek, K. & Singer, P. (2014) The point of view of the universe: Sidgwick and contemporary ethics, Oxford: Oxford University Press. But we could accept this account, as a historical explanation, without thereby committing ourselves to any views about the rightness or wrongness of the ethical system that has resulted. Humans have much greater awareness of what is happening to them, and this makes their suffering worse. Those who believe in absolute rights might hold that it is always wrong to sacrifice one being, whether human or animal, for the benefit of another. The ultimate reason for entering into the ethical contract is, on this view, self-interest. So it is worse to slap a baby than a horse, if both slaps are administered with equal force. Hence if obligations only exist where there can be reciprocity, we need have no worries about problems like the disposal of nuclear waste. They concluded that young rats under conditions of fatal thirst and starvation are much more active than normal adult rats given food and water. This is why killing animals for meat (and clothing) poses the most difficult animal rights challenge. We also discuss his seminal work, 'Animal Liberation,' first published in 1975, which gave rise to the global animal rights movement. It is interesting that this suggestion should be made in defence of treating members of our species better than members of another species, when it would be firmly rejected if it were used to justify treating members of our race or sex better than members of another race or sex. There is no need to develop new ones which might be dangerous. In assessing this conception of ethics we should distinguish between explanations of the origin of ethical judgments, and justifications of these judgments. The factual mistake lies in the assumption that our own consumption of animals is part of the natural evolutionary process. (1982) Utilitarianism and beyond, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. This might be called the Benjamin Franklin Objection. This book is not the first occasion on which I have put forward the position for which I have argued in this chapter. What has posterity ever done for me?' Animal Liberation. The value of life is a notoriously difficult ethical question, and we can only arrive at a reasoned conclusion about the comparative value of human and animal life after we have discussed the value of life in general. Because it takes so much suffering to produce such momentary pleasures as tasting animal products, using animals does not increase the sum of happiness in the world, but actually decreases it, and very much. People sometimes think that all animal experiments serve vital medical purposes, and can be justified on the grounds that they relieve more suffering than they cause. Scarre, G. (1996) Utilitarianism, London: Routledge. These differences explain why a human dying from cancer is likely to suffer more than a mouse. This might be because the self­conscious creature has greater awareness of what is happening, can fit the event into the overall framework of a longer time period, and so on. The contemporary philosophical arm of the animal rights or liberation movement effectively began in 1975 with Peter Singer’s book Animal Liberation. There is another possible reply to the claim that self-consciousness, or autonomy, or some similar characteristic, can serve to distinguish human from nonhuman animals: recall that there are mentally defective humans who have less claim to be self-conscious or autonomous than many nonhuman animals. We cannot observe behaviour suggesting pain--sensational claims to the contrary have not been substantiated-- and plants do not have a centrally organized nervous system like ours. 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