The field of ethics has been in existence for a long time. This field of moral philosophy is an important guide to morality and living conduct that will not cause harm to others. Today the questions of ethics revolve around such things as abortion, sex outside marriage, pornography, euthanasia and environmental pollution. All these are questions of ethical behavior.
Singer is one of the most influential utilitarian ethicist of the 21st centaury. Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that states that people should act is such a way that their actions maximize the expected satisfaction of interests of the world at large. Among some of his works include Animal Liberation (1975) and Practical Ethics (1979). These books have played a very big role in shaping the arguments of contemporary animal rights activism. In the book practical ethics, Singer discusses the ethical standard that requires those who belong to what may be called a majority group not to exploit those of the minority group. This paper addresses the critical arguments that he gives concerning animals.
Keywords: character, ethics, morality.
Singer's View on Animals
Singer's built his thesis on the thinking that the equality and consideration that we extend to human beings should also be given to animals to avoid the suffering of the non-humans or the animals. According to him, the principle of equal consideration of interest is the fundamental principles for equality of all humans (Singer, 2011 p.17 ).
Singer urgues that these same principal of equal consideration given to people despite their differences, either phsical or mental, should be applied to non human animals. Accoding to him, it is not acceptable to urgue that the rights of humans should takes prcedence over those of animal.
He argues that the thought and belief that issues that affect human shoud take precedence those that affect the rights of animals reflects prejudice againist animals. He compares this to the colonial time when white slave ownerâ€™s neglected of the the rights of their slaves simply because they were not of the same skin color or what is called racism (Singer, 2011 p. 46). Just as expoloiting people simply because they belong to a different group is not justifiable, so is neghlecting the rights of animals simply because they belong to another species. This he calles the principle of equal
The principal of equal consideration says its morally wrong to exploit the members of another species simply they are different from those of your own. Accordng to this principal, the interests of other living things, including animals equal consideration to those of man.
Among the reasons for his argument why all animal are entitled to equal considetion is suffering (Singer, 2011 p. 50). This argument is based on the scientific reality that animals are able to feel pain and suffering in the same capacity as humans. Beacuse the same cant besaid of nonliving things, its absurd to expect someone to take the interests of the non living when they are dealing with them.
The other argument is that of equality (Singer, 2011 p. 51). This principal requires that like suffering be counted equally with like suffering but the principal of relativity be applied. He use the example of tormenting a lab. He said that since the animal will suffer, , there is no moral reason why its interest should be ignored. He uses the term specisists to refer to those who disregard the suffering of non-humans and likens them to slave traders who saw the pain and suffering of their slave as less important as compared that of people who were similar to them (Singer, 2011 p.53).
He however acknowledges the fact that the pain that is felt by animals is different because humans are aware of what is happening to them, and therefore feel pain at a much higher level. This is true of a cancer patient who will suffer more than the lab rat because he is more aware of what is happening to him. Singer insists that in such a case, the principal of equal consideration be applied and that we should work towards relieving the greater suffering felt by animals and not give greater weight to the suffering one species over that of the other.
The other argument that singer gives concerns the sanctity of life, whether that of an animal or humana and using animals for food . these animas are rared in miserable conditions yet the people use their food as a luxury product. This goes against the equity because the interests of other animals ar sacrificed for smaller interst of people for meat (Singer, 2011 p.50).
Other forms of violation opf animal righhts that singer is againist is that of usig them in experiments especially those that lead to the death of animal yet hav litle value to the overall wellbeing of the human.
Everybody has the same opinion when the life of humans is conserned, that life is sacred and thus the life of humans should be protected at all costs. This is howevr the same when aniamls are concerned because they are slaughterd in million to provide food for people. To address this issue, singer seeks to address the question of whether animals are persons whose lives are sacred.
His definastion that he choses for a person is on ewho is ablke to ans is rational and self conscience (Singer, 2011 p. 94). Thefacts that animals are humans was proved when apes were taught to communicate using about 250 signs and could as questiions relevant to s\certain events meaning that they had expectation of the future just like humans and shows that they are self conscious (Singer, 2011 p. 94). He disputes the criteria for qualifying a person based on the ability to speak saying that children donâ€™t also have a language nut also animals have their own unique language which they use to communicate for instance in times of danger.
Considering the fact that some animals exihibit signs of human behavior, singer urgues that the lives of such non-human persons should be given the same special values and claim to protection similar to that of man because they see themselves as continuing selves since som eof the member of the human species are less persons than those of other species. Here, the example of pigs whose mental capabilities is very high and humans who have congenital mental disability is used. According to singer, there is therefore no justification saying that killing an animal which is more person is better than killing one who is less of a person in our species (Singer, 2011 p. 117).
The moral principal tha should be taken to consideratio when dealihng with life is to avoid killling the being if we can do so. Whether the being is a person or not, the death of the animal will cause it pain and affect the other animals within its social circles. The general rule when dealing with sentient being is not to put them in more misery and to reduce their suffering by weighing the benefits of our deeds to the interests that those actions serve. If there interest are minimal, there is no moral justificatioon from killing them.
Singer, P. (2011). Practical Ethics. NEw York, NY: Cambrdge University Press .