Environmental Ethics: Singer vs Regan
Environmental ethics is defined: as a part of philosophy which considers extending the traditional boundaries of ethics from solely including humans to including the nonhuman world (Wikipedia). For example, this includes the preservation of plants and an increase of animal rights. Peter Singer and Tom Regan both argue that animals need a greater voice than their own in the debate of ethical treatment. Despite their very different philosophical views, Singer and Regan want a similar outcome when dealing with environmental ethics it today’s society.
Peter Singer, an Australian philosopher, takes a utilitarian view on nonhuman liberation. In other words actions should be judged strictly by their consequences. For example if an action benefits the largest number of individuals, over a lesser number, then that action must be good. His central view is that moral consideration should be given to all living things but that “…does not mean treating them alike or holding their lives to be of equal value (Singer p. 58). Singer adds that “We may recognize that the interests of one being are greater than those of another, and equal consideration will then lead us to sacrifice the being with lesser interest, if one or the other must be sacrificed” (Singer p.58). This as a whole sounds brutal but on the positive end of moral consideration is that interest shared by both humans and nonhumans have to be given equal weight. Singer argues that “We can now draw at least one conclusion as to how the existence of nonhuman living things should enter into our deliberations about actions affecting the environment: Where our actions are likely to make animals suffer, that suffering must count in our deliberations, and it should count equally with a like amount of suffering by human beings, insofar as rough comparisons can be made” (Singer p.59). He adds that the conclusion of making these choices will be controversial but there will be a clear cut...
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