Flaws of Peter Singer's Arguments

Topics: Animal rights, Utilitarianism, Animal liberation movement Pages: 6 (2564 words) Published: February 20, 2012
James Perlas
Rhet 130
First Draft Final Paper

In this essay, I’d like to argue against the general movement concerning animal rights. This movement aims to give animals more rights than is necessary. One of the main people who advocate this movement is Peter Singer. Singer uses many logical arguments that are reasoned and well thought out but are flawed and it will be very useful to show how the animal liberation movement is misguided and unrealistic.

Peter Singer makes his first point in arguing how humans are animals just as much as cats and rabbits are. He states how the using the term of ‘animal’ refers to non-human animals which include cats, dogs, and even insects. Singer says that there is a slight distinction between animals and humans and that there is no reason to give one more moral weight to the ‘interests’ of one to another. He uses the example of racial and sexual discrimination to compare the situation. Singer says that even though colors of people and gender can be different in many ways, whether it’s genetically or environmentally, they still need to have their ‘interests’ considered equally. He defines having ‘interests’ as having the ability to experience suffering and enjoyment. In applying moral principles, Singer uses the reasoning that any being that is given moral status, must have that same moral status applied to every other being. With this in mind, he uses it to justify all genders and races to have equal political and moral rights. There’s nothing wrong with his argument until he says that since there’s no difference between humans and animals, and since there’s no discrimination between blacks and whites that they should not be exempt from being equal. Singer says that it is necessary for a being to have interest to be able to qualify for moral status. He uses a stone as an example of something without interests which therefore does not qualify for moral status. Since it has no awareness or reaction to its surroundings and is incapable of suffering and enjoyment, it has no interests. Singer argues that animals do have interest: they live to keep themselves alive, reproduce, feel pain, and have the capacity to suffer. He goes on to say that if animals have moral status then they also deserve equal moral status as humans and to have equal consideration of their interest.

He starts his argument with justifying how animals have the capacity of suffering. He uses many sources such as scientific findings to show how animals do in fact feel pain similar to humans. This is already common knowledge because take the nervous system of a monkey for example; it is very similar to our own, especially the parts that deal with the reaction to something such as fire and heat. However, it is important to understand that pain is a simple reaction to something. The heat from the fire causes a reaction within the nerve which sends signals to the brain which translates it to pain. This event happens in every living thing. It isn’t limited to just animals with wings or to just dogs, but rather it happens in all of them. Reaction to an external change is a basic neural process. Taking away a food source from any living thing will cause it to react to the change by finding other sources of food. Moving a plant from exposure to the sun and placing it in the shade will affect the plant’s growth by causing it to grow in a new direction towards the light. Pulling a leaf off the plant will cause it to invest more energy into replacing the leaves with more. Singer continues by saying that the pain humans feel can be more complex and he uses an example of fear. When there’s a killer on the loose, the intense fear people experience is due to the complicated social relationships that people have built up in society. Bearing this in mind, Singer says that just because animals have less complicated suffering doesn’t mean they deserve any less consideration just like an infant must be...
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