Ivy Bridge College
In his interviews with both The Open University and The Colbert Report, Dr. Peter Singer discusses the unethical human use of animals. Most of his claims are highly controversial and are not taken well by most people.
Human Use of Animals: Summary and Critique
The use of animals in modern civilization has been a controversial subject for the past few decades. Author and Philosopher Peter Singer has made his standpoint clear on this particular subject. In his interviews with The Open University and Stephen Colbert he explains why he believes in what he does and gives his reasoning behind it.
Singer’s idea of what defines a person is, “a person is someone who is aware of their own existence over time, and who is aware enough to realize that they are the same being who lived previously and who can expect to keep living into the future.”(Singer 2008) he goes on to give details of what constitutes personhood by stating that infants are not persons because they have not yet become self-aware, but a chimpanzee is a person because it can recognize itself in a mirror. He also states that humans with severe brain damage or someone who is intellectually impaired may have once been a person but is no longer a person. Dr. Singer believes that this is an important argument to the wrongness of killing as he clearly states, “I do think the idea of a being who can envisage his or her own future is morally significant, because if you compare the wrongness of killing a being who is capable of having some anticipation of the future, some desires for the future, perhaps even some projects to complete in the future, and you kill such a person who wants to go on living, you’re doing something wrong to that person which is something you’re not doing if you kill a being who is fully not a person and who can have no wishes or hopes for the future, and therefore you can’t cut off or thwart or frustrate those wishes for the future. So I think the concept of the person points to something that is relevant in the specific context of the wrongness of killing.” (Singer 2008) I disagree wholeheartedly with nearly all of his statements.
He seems to state that in a life threatening situation he would put the interests of a chimpanzee before he would a new-born child, when as far as he knows the human child could grow up to be a great leader or scientist, but just because that child is not yet aware that it is not a person and therefore is not as important as the chimpanzee. Singer states that, “a person is someone who is capable of suffering and therefore it would be wrong to kill them.” If an infant is not a person and therefore is not capable of suffering, then why do they scream and cry when they are injured?
Dr. Singer also states his view on the consumption of meat, saying that “Someone that eats meat is a speciesist because they do not take into account the feelings of the animal which they are eating.” (Singer 2008) Could we not say that every species on this planet is the same way? Wolves do not eat other wolves, though they kill prey animals like deer. Does the wolf think about the deer not living anymore? Of course it does not. The wolf is designed to kill other animals to survive. Human beings may not possess the natural tools for hunting but we evolved to a point where we could make our own tools for that job.
One could also argue that human beings are natural omnivores, which means that we evolved to eat plants as well as meat. From the archeological records, humans have been omnivorous as far back as science can tell. As soon as the domestication of food sources began, meat was part of humanity’s diet. Our teeth are designed to eat multiple types of food, and our digestive system has enzymes to break down meat that herbivores do not have.
Dr. Singer give his view on why we treat animals differently than human beings. “The point about...