"All Animals Are Equal"

Topics: Utilitarianism, Speciesism, Ethics Pages: 3 (981 words) Published: April 29, 2004
In order to understand Peter Singer's article "All Animals Are Equal", one has to look at his viewpoint and perspective. Singer is a utilitarian, which is someone who believes that best outcome is something that causes that greatest amount of pleasure (or the least amount of pain) for the greatest number of people. However, in this definition the word 'people' is used, as to mean only humans. This is the point that Singer is trying to argue. Who is to say that animals don't feel pain or experience happiness? Singer believes in the equal consideration of interests, and that we should extend this basic principle to other species.

In Singer's first point on extending equal consideration, he poses the question, if a lesser intelligence cannot be used to morally discriminate against humans, then how can it be used to discriminate against animals? Singer explains that he's not saying both groups should be treated exactly the same, because there are differences between species, therefore they should have different rights. Singer states, "The interests of every being affected by an action are to be taken into account and given the same weight as the like interests of any other being" (LaFollette, 110). For a being to have interests, they must have the capability to enjoy life and suffer. He points out that any animal would have an interest in not being tormented, so it does not suffer. We could be sure that animals feel pain based on the fact that they show the same signs used by humans that show they feel pain. For example, if a person would to step on a dog's tail he might bark, the same as if a human had their hand slammed in the door they would yell.

Singer brings up the issue of sexism and racism. No matter how we may try to look at it, not all humans are equal. He argues, "...a person's sex is no guide to his or her abilities, and this is why it is unjustifiable to discriminate on the basis of sex" (LaFollette, 109), and the same goes for racism - basing a...
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