All Animals Are Equal by Peter Singer: Human Cruelty Towards Animals

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Across the Earth, there are countless specimens who live alongside us humans. There are evident primitive differences between us and many of these species. However, do these differences account for the different values placed on the rights of these different species? Peter Singer argues that it is immoral and unjustified that many humans tend to favor their own interests over those of other species (Singer, P., 1975). The stance taken by Singer regarding this issue is one that I agree with.

Peter Singer argues that humans act immorally when they “allow the interests of [their] own species to override the greater interests of members of other species” (Singer, 1975, p. 6). He supports this claim with a variety of premises including the assertion that equality is not based on similarity. Singer states that if in fact equality was based on similarity, then due to inter-existing differences, humans would also be subject to “different treatments and different rights” (Singer, 1975, p. 2). Furthering his argument, Singer states that the basis of equality should not be physical characteristics or one’s level of intelligence. Singer views equality as a construct for how we should act towards others (Singer, P., 1975). In establishing the validity of his conclusion, Singer mentions that if among humans equality should not be calculated based on appearance or mental capacity, then this argument also applies to members of other species (Singer, P., 1975). The premise of equal consideration is the backbone of Singer’s argument. He contends that there is no moral way to explain ignoring the suffering of any being (Singer, P., 1975). Singer concludes that mankind practices speciesism when we breach the principle of equal consideration through acts such as condoning the suffering of animals in order to further our own interests (Singer, P., 1975). The argument posed is one that is very compelling.

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In regard to the argument posed by Singer, I absolutely agree with him. The human consumption of meat and the process through which meat is acquired do breach the principle of equal consideration. For the general population, it is difficult imagining the rights of different individuals being ranked on the basis of physical characteristics and intelligence. Nonetheless, if instead of comparing the rights of two humans, we were to compare the rights of a human to, for example, a chicken, it is much easier to condone the use of this logic. The process in which meat is obtained is also majorly flawed. Animals are often held in confinement and harsh living conditions. Many animals are also given hormones in order to produce more meat as a means of increasing profit. For the most part, the cruelties animals face before they are slaughtered are ignored but if it were humans who were kept in confinement and in living conditions that strayed far from natural, this would be seen as a major issue. There is a problem with this way of thinking. It is a result of the internal belief that the rights of humans triumph those of other species and is a violation of these species’ right to equal consideration.

Those with a different view on this matter may try to dismantle Singer’s argument in many ways. One may counter the argument by raising the claim that not all raising and killing of animals causes suffering. Such as in cases where an anesthetic is administered when the animal is killed. This so-called lack of suffering argument may seem correct on the surface but in reality, there is no way of truly knowing if the animal is suffering. It can also be held that the living conditions of the animals in industrialized farms are sufficient as they are being fed and are provided a home. In thinking this way, one ignores the suffering inflicted by these environments. The living spaces are usually cramped and are unnatural to the animals’ normal ways of life. Taking into account of Singer’s argument of equal consideration, if it were a human held against their will in a confined space, would this individual not be described as suffering? It is unfair and unjust for humans to entitle themselves with the ability to devalue the rights of other animals due to their suffering not being expressed directly.

Throughout time, humans have time and time again placed a higher value on their personal interests than on the rights of other species. It must be acknowledged that speciesism cannot be justified with arguments such as eating meat is a way of life or that animal suffering does not exist. The process in which humans acquire meat is also in need of adjustments. Allowing atrocities against other species to occur for the purpose of acquiring meat cannot continue. If one expects equal consideration within the human race, why is this expectation not placed across the different species that we share planet Earth with? 

Works cited

  1. Singer, P. (1975). Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals. Harper Collins.
  2. Regan, T. (1983). The Case for Animal Rights. University of California Press.
  3. Francione, G. L. (2000). Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog? Temple University Press.
  4. Garner, R. (2005). Animal Ethics. Polity.
  5. Diamond, C. (1991). The Importance of Being Human. In T. Regan & P. Singer (Eds.), Animal Rights and Human Obligations (2nd ed., pp. 156-162). Prentice Hall.
  6. Beauchamp, T. L., & Frey, R. G. (2013). The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics. Oxford University Press.
  7. Korsgaard, C. M. (2011). Fellow Creatures: Kantian Ethics and Our Duties to Animals. Oxford University Press.
  8. Scruton, R. (2000). Animal Rights and Wrongs. Continuum.
  9. Donaldson, S., & Kymlicka, W. (2011). Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights. Oxford University Press.
  10. Nussbaum, M. C. (2006). Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership. Harvard University Press.

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