Speciesism: Singer's Arguments

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In this essay I will try to clarify Singers essential argument and defend it against some common objections. According to Singer, Speciesism is a position similar to racism and sexism. Just as race discriminates against other race, and sexism against the opposite sex, speciesism discriminates against non-human species. Specisists hold that only humans have intrinsic moral worth, and anything that is non-human has no rights and so for Singer, speciesism is not an acceptable position. He argues that because animals are capable of experiencing pain, and therefore have an interest in preserving themselves, they deserve to be respected and given rights. Singer is a utilitarian which means for him the capacity to feel pleasure and pain is the most important factor for moral consideration. If a being has the capacity to feel pain and pleasure, then Singer thinks we have a responsibility towards them. He rejects moral rights as inherent to every species and proposes that sentience is a requirement for status since he maintains most animals do not care about whether we kill them and use them for our own purposes: they care only about how we treat them when we do use and kill them. Just like humans, animals have interests of their own, a capacity for enjoying things and also for suffering. And “if a being suffers, there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration” (Singer 1975:79) Given the principle of equal consideration of interests, it follows that equal moral concern should be given to the suffering of animals as that of humans. “If only x and y would be affected by a possible action, and if x stands to lose more than y gains, it is better not to do the act” (PE, p21). If this is the case, then suffering caused to animals as a result of their treatment when we regard treating humans in the same way most count as ‘specisist` behaviour : the only difference between humans and animals is their species, and that...
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